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on 5 October 2000
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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on 15 November 1999
Being an faithful reader of Isabelle Allende's work I bought her last book as soon as it became available in the bookstore. As always it has been a great pleasure traveling with its heroes, Eliza, Toa Chi'en and others through the society and nature of the Americas at the turn of the century. It allows you to taste of the European life transferred into the New World as well as the harsh, but open to all possibilities, conditions of those taking part in the Californian goldrush. I especially enjoyed the growing character of Eliza open to the different types of wisdom of those she encounters on her voyage. I am sure you will enjoy being on the road with her.
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on 15 March 2002
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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on 19 August 2001
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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on 14 January 2003
This is a very colourful work, not least because of the larger-than-life characters whom Eliza meets on her travels. The tale broadly takes in a panoramic view of the culture of the time. Allende has clearly done her homework here and yet the book comes to resemble nothing so much as the fictional journalism of her character, Jacob Freemont. She has no interest in expending energy on the creation of mood and depth and, paradoxically, this leads to the present book's feeling somehow smaller in scope than the more domestic "House of the Spirits". Eliza herself is admirable (for her sheer bravery and determination)rather than truly sympathetic. In all, the book reads like a good old-fashioned adventure story with social commentary thrown in for good measure. Yet there are far worse books with which to wile away a few rainy afternoons; Isabel Allende remains, as ever, an engaging storyteller.
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on 28 August 2001
The book follows the style of other Allende novels following the lives of Chilean families. On this occasion the narative takes us further afield to the Gold Fever of California. The picture painted of the world at this time was interesting and vivid. The story races along and the readers interest is maintained.
This may not be the finest work of Allende (House of the Spirits or Paula are a better introduction to her work due to their more personal and heartfelt content) but is well worth reading, provides some food for thought and is easy reading.
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on 3 December 2000
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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on 27 November 2000
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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on 26 August 2011
There's plenty to like about this book in principle but it falls flat, and ends up seeming very ordinary. The story is a good old adventure yarn, but never quite seems believable, and the characters are unengaging. It's very much 'told', so you get plenty of pages of plot, but no real sense of how the characters are feeling, reacting, developing, and the authorial voice is simply not brilliant enough to draw the reader in over the length of the book. Not an unpleasant read by any means - but not a memorable one either.
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on 9 July 2007
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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