The Fortune Teller's Daughter
Man, oh, man, this book gets off to one s-l-o-w start, but once things get moving The Fortune Teller’s Daughter is enjoyable fiction with an extremely strong romantic component, a hint of paranormal elements, and an appealing New England setting.
Tired of years of moving from town to town with her fortune-telling mother, Sabine Heartwood has happily settled in Moose River Junction, a Massachusetts town that seems the perfect embodiment of her girlhood dreams. And even though Sabine happily works for the town’s newspaper, she can’t deny that she has inherited – in an even more powerful form – her mother’s psychic abilities.
Danforth Smith, budding film director, sees Moose River Junction very differently. The scion of a prominent area family, he has returned at the request of his just deceased grandmother. Her virtual demand came at a very bad time for Dan – his fast track film career was just about to start moving even faster and his girlfriend, an equally hot actress, doesn’t relish the idea of spending months in the small isolated town.
Not to even mention, Dan has baggage. Big time baggage. Before her death, Dan’s grandmother “guilted” him into promising to keep the family’s money-loosing movie theatre going. Gran also made Dan agree to keep his beloved Uncle Nagy (mentally challenged enough to have remained a child) at home and out of any kind of institution. Of course, both of these promises mean death for his career.
Still, even though both of those circumstances amount to a big enough load for anyone, it’s hard to top this one. Years earlier Gran told the six-year-old Dan that he started the fire that killed both his parents. How’s that for toxic?
Of course, Sabine and Dan are destined to be together. And, intriguingly enough, they are helped to get there by working together to solve what seems to be a haunting of a house built on land belonging to his family for hundreds of years.
Let me say, we all have hot buttons and one of my biggest is plots that hinge on parental units (or, in this case, grandparental units) who use guilt to manipulate the younger generation. Frankly, even though I think we were supposed to like Gran, I didn’t. For me, the dreams of one generation shouldn’t amount to a lifetime of servitude for another. Equally, Gran may not have been fully informed about all the options available for Nagy before so severely limiting Dan’s choices. And that fire stuff? Don’t even get me started!
But, with that aside, on the whole I enjoyed this book. Susan Wilson has a deft hand with characterization and the book is populated with intriguing people who came to life quite nicely. One of the most interesting is Sabine’s mother, a woman’s whose love for her daughter is unquestioned and who has demons of her own with which to contend. And Sabine’s eventual understanding that home doesn’t have to be a place and, at the same time, Dan’s acceptance of his place in the town reflected in a very real way the kind of conflicts and decisions we all face when we fall in love.
Of course, there’s the matter of that very slow start. During the first few chapters the author fairly abruptly moves backward and forward in time – a device I found quite confusing – and takes too long to start setting up the chief elements of the story. But, once the main plot elements are in place, everything comes together well, making The Fortune Teller’s Daughter a kind of quietly satisfying book offering real rewards for readers willing to hang in there.