FORTUNE'S HAND by Belva Plain


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Once again, Plain (Legacy of Silence, 1998, etc.) tells a plain story in a style rinsed of ornament and dredged of anything sticking up to break the narrative flow. Southern schoolteacher Robb McDaniels awakens to find his parents dead and himself with a few broken bones, all of them in a car that’s been rammed by a truck. When an attorney offers Robb enough money to go to law school if he—ll not sue the trucker’s firm, Robb accepts and leaves behind the waiting Lily, his sweetheart of five years, to whom he’s more or less engaged. Then, in his final year of law school, he meets the beautiful manhandler Ellen. Will Robb drop Lily for Ellen? Well, yes, and children ensue as Lily marries a doctor, and Robb joins Ellen’s father’s upstanding firm and rises to prominence in the law. Even so, his marriage and career take a long and deadly slide downhill, dotted with Robb’s defaulting from the firm to join a bunch of legal sharks, his dabblings with women (which Ellen recognizes), and, the capper, his involvement in a bank fraud. This brings daughter Julie back into his orbit as she tries to help her doomed father through bad times. Every step, from auto accident onward, shows —fortune’s hand— at work, though the surprising conclusion would seem to underline the notion that character is fate—and Plain as day.

Pub Date: May 4th, 1999
ISBN: 0-385-31692-5
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2000


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