Fortune is a Woman (Adler)

Discussion Questions
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1. Comment on Lai Tsin's will in which he says, "throughout the years it has been proven to me many times that women are more worthy than men. Therefore I decree that women shall always carry the fortunes of the Lai Tsin family." Does the book bear this belief out? Are the women characters more honorable and trustworthy than the men? Are there any exceptions?

2. In his will the Mandarin leaves his company in the hands of an 18-year-old young woman. Annie questions his judgment when she says: "It's not right to burden a girl with all that responsibility....we don't even know...if she'll even want to run the Lai Tsin Corporation. Francie, it'll just the past all over again, she'll be a woman in a man's world. And you, of all people, know who hard that is." Given how the book turns out, is Annie right or wrong?

3. Describe the two women, Francie and Annie, in this book and their friendship to one another. On what is their devotion to one another based?

4. How would you describe the men in this book, particularly the Harrison father and son—and Annie's father? What drives their hatred of women—especially, their wives, daughters, or sister?

5. What is the relationship between Josh and Sammy. Did you believe, early on, that Josh was the "Moon Killer"? What clues led you to believe he was...or to believe that he wasn't?

6. Why does Tsai Lin feel it necessary for Francie to front his company? What happens to Francie's reputation as a result of her relationship with Tsai Lin? How do the Chinese feel about Tsai Lin's involvement with Francie? What does it say about the values of the times? To what degree, if at all, have those values or attitudes changed?

7. When Lai Tsin returns to visit his brother and to build the temple, he sees his brother debase himself for money. Lai Tsin "knew poverty only too well; he understood that it could turn men to demons selling their souls to find food and shelter for their families or opium for the pipe of oblivion." With his understanding of the demeaning effect of poverty, why does Tsai Lin still despise his brother.

8. How does her brother's death make Francie's feel? What does she say?

9. When Francie and Buck fly over to Hong Kong to visit Lysandra, Philip Chen tells Francie that she is even more beautiful than when he had last seen her. When Francie speaks of her white hairs, Philip responds, "Wisdom arrives with the white hairs, and wisdom enhances beauty." Is that attitude toward aging part of our own culture today? How is aging viewed in the Western part of the world, in the early 21st century?

10. Did Tsai Lin's secret surprise you? Can you trace all the family ties in this novel—who is related to whom?

11. Are you pleased with how the book ends, with the decision that Lysandra makes? Why or why not? Does this then fulfill Annie's fears in question #2?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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