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Daughter of Fortune Paperback – 1 Apr 2008


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Daughter of Fortune + The House Of The Spirits + Portrait in Sepia
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; New Ed edition (1 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006552323
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006552321
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 186,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel Allende is the author of nine novels, including Inès of My Soul, Daughter of Fortune, and Portrait in Sepia. She has also written a collection of stories, four memoirs, and a trilogy of children's novels. Her books have been translated into more than twenty-seven languages and have become bestsellers across four continents. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Isabel Allende lives in California.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Until Isabel Allende burst onto the scene with her 1985 debut, The House of the Spirits, Latin American fiction was, for the most part, a boys' club comprised of such heavy hitters as Gabriel García Márquez, Jorge Luis Borges, and Mario Vargas Llosa. But the Chilean Allende shouldered her way in with her magical realist multigenerational tale of the Trueba family, followed it up with four more novels and a spate of non-fiction and has remained in a place of honour ever since. Her sixth work of fiction, Daughter of Fortune, shares some characteristics with her earlier works: The canvas is wide, the characters are multigenerational and multiethnic, and the protagonist is an unconventional woman who overcomes enormous obstacles to make her way in the world. Yet one cannot accuse Allende of telling the same story twice; set in the mid-1800s, this novel follows the fortunes of Eliza Sommers, Chilean by birth but adopted by a British spinster, Rose Sommers, and her bachelor brother, Jeremy, after she is abandoned on their doorstep.

"You have English blood, like us", Miss Rose assured Eliza when she was old enough to understand. "Only someone from the British colony would have thought to leave you in a basket on the doorstep of the British Import and Export Company, Limited. I am sure they knew how good-hearted my brother Jeremy is and felt sure he would take you in. In those days I was longing to have a child and you fell into my arms, sent by God to be brought up in the solid principles of the Protestant faith and the English language."

The family servant, Mama Fresia, has a different point of view, however: "You, English? Don't get any ideas, child. You have Indian hair, like mine." And certainly Eliza's almost mystical ability to recall all the events of her life would seem to stem more from the Indian than the Protestant side.

As Eliza grows up, she becomes less tractable and when she falls in love with Joachin Andieta, a clerk in Jeremy's firm, her adoptive family is horrified. They are even more so when a now-pregnant Eliza follows her lover to California where he has gone to make his fortune in the 1849 goldrush. Along the way Eliza meets Tao Chi'en, a Chinese doctor who saves her life and becomes her closest friend. What starts out as a search for a lost love becomes, over time, the discovery of self; and by the time Eliza finally catches up with the elusive Joachin, she is no longer sure she still wants what she once wished for. Allende peoples her novel with a host of colourful secondary characters. She even takes the narrative as far afield as China, providing an intimate portrait of Tao Chi'en's past before returning to 19th-century San Francisco, where he and Eliza eventually end up. Readers with a taste for the epic, the picaresque and romance that is satisfyingly complex will find them all in Daughter of Fortune.--Margaret Prior, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

‘As broad ranging and lyrical as “The House of the Spirits.”’ Daily Telegraph

‘A masterpiece of historical fiction.’ New York Times

‘An extravagant tale by a gifted storyteller whose spell brings to life the 19th century world…Entertaining and well paced…compelling.’ Los Angeles Times

‘It is packed with incident, rushing from one highly coloured scene to the next … If you like your passions grand and your views panoramic, then “Daughter of Fortune” will be irresistible…you'll find it hard not to be beguiled by the charm and ingenuity of Allende's storytelling.’ The Times


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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 19 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
I came to this book aware of the negative criticism it had received, but determined not to allow it to influence my judgement. Unfortunately, I must agree that this novel is extremely disappointing. The comparisons made with House of Spirits are entirely off track, Eliza is not up to the standard of Clara, nor does this plot equal the one of House of Spirits. It lacks the depth and spirituality that make House of Spirits a universal experience. While reading Daughter I couldn't help feeling that this book was written to produce a marketable best-seller, with little concern for literary value. Allende's acute awareness of the PC, as well as her choice of language, often unrealistic for the historical period, (although this peculiarity may be in part the translator's doing) seem to confirm this novel was written for the page-turning masses. I find all this sad: Allende, with an overabundance of telling, falls short of showing in this novel, thus falling short of her own talent as a writer. I hope she can rediscover a rich new vein and stop pawning off fool's gold for the real thing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Mar. 2002
Format: Paperback
I love her work. All of it. Every word, every turn of phrase, every character.... you can *smell* her characters, feel the clothes on their back, run your hands through their hair...
Her depictions of life in 18th century Chile and California are so convincing that there could be no other truth than hers in the nature of life and society at that time.
The story draws you in, inviting you readily into the back streets of San Francisco, the dark drawing rooms of the Chilean social "elite", the brothels of frontier California and the deep confines of the ship's hold.
If you like your narrative passionate, if you enjoy romance and tragedy and if you are inspired by novels to free your imagination, then this book is for you.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By OllyOctopus on 3 Dec. 2000
Format: Paperback
Some of the other reviewers have questioned whether Eliza is an extraordinary character, and have found she is not interesting enough to carry the story. I disagree with these reviewers as I admired her for setting out to find her lover Joaquin by stowing away when she has hardly left her home in her life. To become the companion of a Chinese physician, disguising herself as a Chinese man, and taking part in the California gold rush, is extraordinary in itself, and deserves to be praised.
I particularly enjoyed the historical content of this novel and it left me wanting to read more about the Chilean society and the American gold rush. Therefore, it was like reading two novels in one.
My favourite character was Rose who was a truly remarkable and passionate woman. I would love to read a novel just based on her as I think she merits this study. Allende is masterly in crafting the secrets of this woman and only revealing them towards the end of the story.
I haven't read any other Allende novels but I certainly shall after reading Daughter of Fortune.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dryad on 27 Nov. 2000
Format: Paperback
I like Isabel Allende's writing, really I do, and I was somewhat disappointed by Daughter of Fortune. I think I expected some richer, and this felt really lightweight. I've thought of giving this to a friend for Christmas, as she's never read Allende but loves Latin and Caribbean fiction, yet I hesitate to send this to her as I don't think she'd care for it, and Allende is worth reading.
The biggest problem with Daughter of Fortune is the main character, Eliza, who, to be honest, just isn't very interesting. Most of the other characters, particularly Rose Summers and Tao Chi'en, are far more interesting, and I would rather have read about them than Eliza. Eliza is considered extraordinary by all who meet her...unfortunately she's anything but extraordinary. Allende would, I think, have done better to keep out of Eliza's point of view, keeping her mysterious.
Should you read this book....only if you're a fan of Allende and want some light reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By N. Sciortino on 9 July 2007
Format: Paperback
I love Allende's use of language - very descriptive, sweeping but always accessable. You are drawn into the book & its characters from the very first pages. She handles the numerous different characters, cultures & countries with her characteristic ease. Here are the majestic beauty & brutality of the newly developing Californian in all its glory.
The characters, as with all Allende's novels,are sympathetic & well drawn - you want to know what will happen to them. The chief character Eliza ties the novel together, drawing the disparaging cultures together - Chilian, Indian, English, Chinese & "American".
The minor characters add richness & substance, not detract from the epic sweep of the novel which often happens with other books. This is Allende at her glorious best.Enjoy.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
This book was the first I have read by Allende, and I must say I was very impressed. Such beautiful language and imigary, unlike anything I have read before
The tale is set in the colourful lands of Chile and California, during the time of the Californian gold rush. The main character is a girl called Eliza, who was adopted by English colonials in Chile, and looked after by their cook, a Chilian Indean. The tale runs along quite sedately until Elizer reached womanhood, when she fell in love with a poor Chilean worker called Joquian.
After that things were never the same again, Elizer suffering with the kind of painful, obsessive love that only a true heroine can.
When Joquain got gold fever and went to California to find fortune, Elizer was not far behind, and the story then turns into an exciting tale of a womans search for her lover.
This is a story with many twists and turns, with excitement and romance, with characters full of life and passion. It is a story about a womans search for love and freedom.
This is a book I would recommend to anyone who enjoys colourful, discriptive writing with rich, very real characters and a plot that won't let you put the book down for a moment.
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