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Fortune's Folly Hardcover – April 14, 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-9–Fortunata is the quick-thinking and resourceful heroine of this once-upon-a-time tale set in a fictional realm. The 17-year-old has been fending for herself and her father since her mother succumbed to a fever. Papa, once a renowned shoemaker, now concocts the world's ugliest footwear (he lost his creative genius when his wife died) and that, among other things, causes them to leave town in a hurry. Circumstances force them to join a traveling band of performers led by a cruel taskmaster. Fortunata becomes a fortune-teller and though her new gift consists mainly of trickery and artifice, it makes people happy–until she tells a fortune to a prince that must come true or her father dies. The plot glides along nicely, as does the development of the characters. Fagan's language evokes images of fairy tales and legends, and the protagonist's first-person narrative sparkles with humor. In this book, words are powerful, impressive, mystical, and, sometimes, downright silly. Mixing romance, adventure, and unpredictable plot twists, this heartwarming story is a must for every collection.–Jennifer-Lynn Draper, Children's Literature Consultant, Oshawa, Ontario
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

After her father loses his gift for shoe making, Fortunata spurns wicked Capain Niccolo’s offer to join his household as a maid. She and her father take to the road, and Fortunata becomes an itinerant fortune teller. Soon ensnared in her predictions for Prince Leonato’s future, Fortunata learns she must make them come true in order to save her father’s life. Falling in love with the prince is an unforeseen complication. Interwoven with the slipper motif from Cinderella, this journey story is satisfying in many ways. Forced to take the lead when her father falters, the unassuming heroine discovers parts of herself she has never known. All the characters are flawed in different ways, lending a sense of realism to a narrative that might otherwise have seemed remote in time and place. And, as in a true fairy tale, the ending brings happiness to the protagonists and justice to their antagonists. A pleasing first novel. Grades 5-7. --Carolyn Phelan

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 1 edition (April 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805087427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805087420
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,269,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Fortune's Folly" is a charming fairytale in which a resourceful cobbler's daughter is forced to both make, and make true, a grand prophecy for a kingdom's prince. Along the way, she finds strength, wit and true love, all against an incredibly rich, fully-realized world that is Renaissance Italy, but *not* Renaissance Italy.

This debut is sweet, but not saccharine, smart without being too clever for its own good, and has a happy ending that is earned and not dictated by the author. Fagan's hand on the page is light- Fortunata's voice comes through clearly and consistently, and the story never slips into accidental anachronism.

And it's a refreshing story where our heroine is always smart and resourceful, making those sweeping moments when she needs rescuing swoonworthy instead of distressingly necessary. This is a book I intend to read with my daughter, and to share with my friends' daughters, because every girl deserves a hero like Fortunata on her bookshelves.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fortune's Folly, by Deva Fagan, is a lovely first novel, appropriate for grades 4-8, but entertaining for parents and teachers, as well. Set in a fictional world reminiscent of Renaissance Italy, this is a place where nearly everyone believes in magic...except Fortunata, the titular heroine. When circumstances force Fortunata and her widowed father to leave their home city, matters quickly go from bad to worse, and Fortunata must become "a swindler and a charlatan" if they are to survive.

With elements from many classic fairytales, Fortune's Folly remains fresh, with a plucky and proactive heroine, despicable villains, realistically flawed protagonists, and a fast moving plot. There are issues here worthy of discussion--the line between right and wrong, the power of faith, the fact that logic cannot fully explain our lives--but they are deftly interwoven, with no heavy handed moralizing. As Fortunata struggles to find her way between two evils, she slowly comes to understand that her world is not quite what she imagined...and neither is she.

There is some violence, but nothing graphic, and no "adult situations" beyond a kiss; I would be comfortable reading this out loud to children of 8 and above (the tasteful and understated romance would probably bore very small children), and would recommend it to adults as well. The writing style is reminiscent of Patricia Wrede in her "Dragons" books, but the author has a voice all her own. I hope more books will be forthcoming.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fortunes Folly by Deva Fagan

First I have to offer my congrats to Deva for her literary debut, having worked closely with Deva on many Prophecy projects, I had no doubts that it would be great, and I was not disappointed.

There are many things that I love about this book. The fairy tale-like quality is outstanding. The tone of the book transported me back to my youth and my first collection of Fairy Tales which I read over and over. My dad picked it up at a garage sale, and I still associate the old book smell with that collection. Everything from the world to the character archetypes reminds me of those classic stories. But even better than the overall tone was the main character Fortunata, or Nata as she is called by her friends.

I loved that Nata is an active heroine who rises to the challenges presented in her less than charmed life. Rather than pining away and waiting for other people, or magic, or fairies to solve her problems, Nata seizes control of her own destiny. What is remarkable about this is that it does not go down the self-aggrandizing path of existentialist angst like so much fiction today. Instead it is an affirmation of the power of a person to control their destiny and a reminder that there is magic in the world.

Of course, a review of this book would be lacking without an acknowledgment of the author's expert use of words. Fagan's love of words is as apparent as her wit and humor with words like kerfuffled!

Overall I would give this book five crazy-colored mismatched shoes out of five. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an uplifting and fanciful story. I have passed this book on to the English chair at the Junior High in my district and shared it with many of my students, all of whom really enjoyed it. This is an excellent debut novel, and I can't wait to read more!
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Format: Hardcover
If this is Deva Fagan's first book, I'm certainly amazed and found the book to be a refreshing read. This tale of a young girl who is trying to make a way for herself and her father leads her into a whirlwind of hapchances and experiences that change her life forever. I could not put this book down and relished every minute of it. Deva Fagan adds life to each character and intertwines their lives in various and twisting ways to surprise the reader. The tale has morals, values, prophecy and magic all rolled into one. I found this book to be amazing from a fresh new author making her debut. Well Done!
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Format: Hardcover
Fortunata and her father fall on hard times and must travel with a heartless group of performers to make a living. Fortunata is taught the art of fortune telling and makes her living thus. But, when she finally has to tell a very grand and important fortune she must make sure the fortune comes true or risk her father's life.

There were some good things about this book that I really enjoyed. The endings were far less predictable than I'd expected, and for that I was grateful (and surprised!) I did like the characters, and thought Fagan did an admirable job of making them unique from each other.

The second half of this book definitely moved faster than the first. It started (for me) slow and fairly uneventful. That said, I did feel the ending was wrapped up too quickly, and would have liked the "ta-das" each to have a bigger moment.

And, unfortunately, for much of the book I couldn't get passed the fact that our heroine was telling lies. Yes, I understand that she had to do what she could to feed herself and her father, but it just seemed odd that there wasn't *something* else she could have done. And one of her fortunes was quite dangerous for those entwined in it, making it very hard to justify (IMO). I think Fagan tried to justify Fortunata's lies, and tried to have the resolution come to a satisfactory close - and while it all *almost* did, it didn't *quite*.

Also, we don't really learn (I don't think) Fortunata's age until about half way through the book! From the cover I would have guessed her to be about 12 or 13. Turns out, she's more 16-17. Which, is fine, it just does change one's outlook a little. And, sometimes the events felt a little trite to me, which was too bad because there really was some good characterization anyway.

So, all in all an enjoyable book, but I felt it could have been better.
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