Witty, wise, and hope-filled, Five Fortunes is a large-hearted tale of five vivid and unforgettable women who know where they've been but have no idea where they're going. A lively octogenarian, a private investigator, a mother and daughter with an unresolved past, and a recently widowed politician's wife share little else except a thirst for new dreams, but after a week at the luxurious health spa known as "Fat Chance" their lives will be intertwined in ways they couldn't have imagined. At a place where doctors, lawyers, spoiled housewives, movie stars, and captains of industry are stripped of the social markers that keep them from really seeing one another, unexpected friendships emerge, reminding us of the close links between the rich and the poor, fortune and misfortune, and the magic of chance.
Friends, lovers, adulterers, a fortune-teller and even a murderer are objects of gently sardonic fun in Gutcheon's stylish new comedy (after Saying Grace) about five women who meet at The Cloisters, a posh $4000-a-week health spa in Arizona. Octogenarian Rae Strouse, a former fan-dancer and now a wealthy San Francisco matron, returns for her 22nd visit. A birthday gift for outsized (six feet and 180 lbs.) L.A. PI Carter Bond allows her a week in the hallowed hot tubs. Amy Burrows and her obese teenage daughter, Jill, come tangled in dirty laundry from their privileged Manhattan life, while anomalous, athletic Idahoan Laurie Lopez comes to grieve over the death of her husband, a politician and once a tennis star. "Fat Chance" is an apt nickname for this temple of rejuvenation: most of the guests haven't a prayer of living up to the example of their enthusiastic, neon-clad fitness instructors--one of whom is so thin "her body looked like a collection of bicycle parts." At the end of their frog march through the fat farm's regimen, the women meet in secret with a mysterious palm-reading masseuse, whose predictions will follow them long after they have completed their tour of duty at The Cloisters; by then, we are as caught up in this fast-paced story as these women are in each other's lives. UK, translation and serial rights: Wendy Weil.