Daughter of Fortune

Daughter of Fortune

3.9 142
by Isabel Allende

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From acclaimed international bestselling author Isabel Allende comes this dazzling historical novel, a sweeping portrait of an unconventional woman carving her own destiny in an era defined by violence, passion, and adventure. An orphan raised in Valparaiso, Chile, by a Victorian spinster and her rigid brother, young, vivacious Eliza Sommers follows her lover to…  See more details below


From acclaimed international bestselling author Isabel Allende comes this dazzling historical novel, a sweeping portrait of an unconventional woman carving her own destiny in an era defined by violence, passion, and adventure. An orphan raised in Valparaiso, Chile, by a Victorian spinster and her rigid brother, young, vivacious Eliza Sommers follows her lover to California during the Gold Rush of 1849 -- a danger-filled quest that will become a momentous journey of transformation. In this rough-and-tumble world of panhandlers and prostitutes, immigrants and aristocrats, Eliza will discover a new life of freedom, independence, and a love greater than any ever dreamed.

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Isabel Allende's wide international readership will be well satisfied after the six-year wait for Daughter of Fortune, an ambitious romance laden with drama and sensuality. The Chilean author came to international recognition with her debut novel, the highly acclaimed The House of the Spirits (1985), a multigenerational saga of the Trueba family culminating in the horrors of the country's 1973 military coup. Allende has been consistently carving out her literary niche ever since, through the novels Of Love and Shadows (1984), Eva Luna (1988), and The Infinite Plan (1993); with short stories, a memoir, and eclectic musings on the erotic and culinary interspersed between them. In these works, Allende established an unmistakable voice and a set of concerns that form the essential foundations on which Daughter of Fortune is built, but beyond which the book attempts to expand.

The story begins in mid-19th century Valparaíso, Chile, then a thriving British port and the most compelling of the narrative's many settings. Enter Jeremy and Rose Sommers, a brother and sister pair who have established themselves at the head of expatriate society, valiantly tending the delicate flower of Victorian ways on the harsh alien soil. When an infant is abandoned on their doorstep, Rose considers the child a divine consolation for her forgone motherhood, and the foundling completes their unconventional familial situation. The baby, whom they name Eliza, is destined to become a courageous and deeply individual young woman. She grows up between worlds, spending her days half with her native-Chilean nanny immersed in the bustle of the kitchen and household chores, and half with Rose, practicing the piano, shopping for small luxuries, and bathing in tubs of skin-softening milk. The tension in her divided identity climaxes when Eliza encounters Joaquín Andieta, a destitute but passionate revolutionary, and immediately falls madly in love with him. After a somewhat unfulfilling affair, Joaquín dashes off to California to try his luck at the newly-discovered gold mines. Soon after Joaquín leaves, Eliza discovers that she is pregnant, and circumstances force her to pursue him as a stowaway in the hold of a ship.

The events that follow this crucial decision fall like a series of dominoes set in motion. Eliza meets the traditional Chinese healer Tao Chi'en, who will become a crucial part of her life. She has a miscarriage and nearly dies in the two-month sea journey; upon disembarking, she is forced to disguise herself as a Chinese and later a Chilean youth; under the guise of looking for her "brother" Joaquín, she voyages up and down the bitter landscape of the Gold Rush, eventually settling for a time as a piano player in a brothel of kindly whores. Despite an astonishing amount of historical detail, Allende is weaker on American soil, flattening characters and situations with a heavy hand. Ultimately, Tao tracks Eliza down and brings her back to San Francisco, where together they vigorously set about extricating prostitutes from the evil clutches of the avaricious madams in Chinatown. All this time, Eliza has not ceased her search for Joaquín, but eventually a shocking twist of events causes her to finally relinquish him. Liberated at last, she and Tao are now free to act on the love they have gradually found for each other.

Allende deftly weaves a lush tale of four continents into this absorbing page-turner. Her writing is passionate, earthy, and sensorially overwhelming, richly evocative of exotic locales, sexual exploration, and the driving force of destiny. Yet the novel's epic proportions and scope are at times achieved at the expense of character development and realism: Jeremy and Rose verge on fossilized Victorian clichés, while Tao is far too much the stereotypical Chinaman, another of the "mute ants" invading the American Pacific Coast in droves. Allende's storytelling, while retaining the spellbinding quality of The House of the Spirits, here navigates new territory. Perhaps deliberately attempting to evade the label of magical realism that has been conferred, all too often, upon her earlier work, Allende skirts around the supernaturalism her readers may be expecting. Gone are the clairvoyance and long green tresses of House, the closest Daughter comes to magic is in a brief visitation from Tao's dead wife Lin. On the other hand, the feminism and the emphasis upon journeys of personal liberation which have come to be associated with Allende are everywhere in evidence in this text. In fact, it reads in many ways like a feminist allegory, in which the conventions of Victorian society, Chilean chauvinism, and even American materialism are eschewed in favor of multicultural blending and a blurring of gender roles. In the end, after experiencing the rough new land of exploding possibilities in the guise of a man, Eliza is sufficiently liberated to freely choose her femininity for herself in her new life with Tao. It is an optimistic and triumphant conclusion to an extravagant odyssey.

Monica Ferrell

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HarperCollins Publishers
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4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.16(d)

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Chapter One


Everyone is born with some special talent, and Eliza Sommers discovered early on that she had two: a good sense of smell and a good memory. She used the first to earn a living and the second to recall her life — if not in precise detail, at least with an astrologer's poetic vagueness. The things we forget may as well never have happened, but she had many memories, both real and illusory, and that was like living twice. She used to tell her faithful friend, the sage Tao Chi'en, that her memory was like the hold of the ship where they had come to know one another: vast and somber, bursting with boxes, barrels, and sacks in which all the events of her life were jammed. Awake it was difficult to find anything in that chaotic clutter, but asleep she could, just as Mama Fresia had taught her in the gentle nights of her childhood, when the contours of reality were as faint as a tracery of pale ink. She entered the place of her dreams along a much traveled path and returned treading very carefully in order not to shatter the tenuous visions against the harsh light of consciousness. She put as much store in that process as others put in numbers, and she so refined the art of remembering that she could see Miss Rose bent over the crate of Marseilles soap that was her first cradle.

"You cannot possibly remember that, Eliza. Newborns are like cats, they have no emotions and no memory," Miss Rose insisted the few times the subject arose.

Possible or not, that woman peering down at her, her topaz-colored dress, the loose strands from her bun stirring in the breeze were engraved in Eliza's mind, and she could never acceptthe other explanation of her origins.

"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."

"You, English? Don't get any ideas, child. You have Indian hair, like mine," Mama Fresia rebutted behind her patrona's back.

But Eliza's birth was a forbidden subject in that house, and the child grew accustomed to the mystery. It, along with other delicate matters, was never mentioned between Rose and Jeremy Sommers, but it was aired in whispers in the kitchen with Mama Fresia, who never wavered in her description of the soap crate, while Miss Rose's version was, with the years, embroidered into a fairy tale. According to her, the basket they had found at the office door was woven of the finest wicker and lined in batiste; Eliza's nightgown was worked with French knots and the sheets edged with Brussels lace, and topping everything was a mink coverlet, an extravagance never seen in Chile. Over time, other details were added: six gold coins tied up in a silk handkerchief and a note in English explaining that the baby, though illegitimate, was of good stock — although Eliza never set eyes on any of that. The mink, the coins, and the note conveniently disappeared, erasing any trace of her birth. Closer to Eliza's memories was Mama Fresia's explanation: when she opened the door one morning at the end of summer, she had found a naked baby girl in a crate.

"No mink coverlet, no gold coins. I was there and I remember very well. You were shivering and bundled up in a man's sweater. They hadn't even put a diaper on you, and you were covered with your own caca. Your nose was running and you were red as a boiled lobster, with a head full of fuzz like corn silk. That's how it was. Don't get any ideas," she repeated stoutly. "You weren't born to be a princess and if your hair had been as black as it is now, Miss Rose and her brother would have tossed the crate in the trash."

At least everyone agreed that the baby came into their lives on March 15, 1832, a year and a half after the Sommers arrived in Chile, and they adopted that date as her birthday. Everything else was always a tangle of contradictions, and Eliza decided finally that it wasn't worth the effort to keep going over it, because whatever the truth was, she could do nothing to change it. What matters is what you do in this world, not how you come into it, she used to say to Tao Chi'en during the many years of their splendid friendship; he, however, did not agree. It was impossible for him to imagine his own life apart from the long chain of his ancestors, who not only had given him his physical and mental characteristics but bequeathed him his karma. His fate, he believed, had been determined by the acts of his family before him, which was why he had to honor them with daily prayers and fear them when they appeared in their spectral robes to claim their due. Tao Chi'en could recite the names of all his ancestors, back to the most remote and venerable great-great-grandparents dead now for more than a century. His primary concern during the gold madness was to go home in time to die in his village in China and be buried beside his ancestors; if not, his soul would forever wander aimlessly in a foreign land. Eliza, naturally, was drawn to the story of the exquisite basket — no...

Daughter of Fortune. Copyright © by Isabel Allende. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Daughter of Fortune 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 142 reviews.
Joan-Gareth More than 1 year ago
When I first read its synopsis three years ago, I was immediately drawn to what seemed to be a puzzling storyline. How can a young girl from Chile arrive in California, especially in the 1800's during the Gold Rush? The summary read "because of love," but in reality, what can love really accomplish? The first half or so of the book gives no mention of California until young Eliza Sommers, raised by wealthy owners of an English import/export company in Chile, falls in love with Joaquin Andieta. It is no coincidence that Joaquin and Eliza meet at the time right before the California Gold Rush fever reaches Valparaiso, Chile. Eliza's loneliness and her sense of pride driver her to follow her lover to California and find him, even recruiting the help of a Chinese man whom she knows little about. Armed with only the pearls and golden jewelry her uncle Captain John Sommers has collected for her over the years, she leaves for California and experiences suffering and hardship, both which make her realize that life is too short-lived and it would be impossible for her to return to the proper world of corsets and milky skin. Over time, she even begins forgetting her lover's identity, clinging to their love letters as she tries to overcome the desperation time imbues in her. Driven by legend and a shell of lost romance, Eliza must eventually decide for herself whether or not to forget the past. The characters themselves are colorful and well-developed. There are chapters in the book devoted to almost every one of them, and Isabel Allende does a wonderful job at developing their history. This significantly builds their development as their attitudes and decisions are driven by their past, and no little detail goes unnoticed. From the stage of the dramatic Italian/English theater to the crowded and buzzing streets of Hong Kong, Allende CREATES a believable world and portrays the characters in a higher dimension. Allende demonstrates a savvy for almost every type of culture, and that knowledge shines through to create a higher level of drama rarely achieved by other authors. As she explains each character, the reader is able to understand them deeply and thus creates a bond between character and reader, enhancing readability. "Daughter of Fortune" is an excellent book, and once picked up, it is difficult to put down. Each page is full of imagery, full of choices, and full of a world nobody remembers and few have seen. I highly recommend reading this novel: A tale about a young girl who is willing to lose it all for something she herself lost.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende is an extremely engaging and colorful novel. It spans several generations and explores the effects and difficulties of unrequited love. I especially enjoyed the author's wonderful imagery which creates a much more vivid and intimate connection for the reader. Allende's personal ties to the setting in Chile make the description exceptionally powerful. The book incorporates accurate facts and details of the time to make this fiction story seem like reality. Allende uses actual dates and events to verify her plot and places her characters in a historically important background. This setting is not only essential to the plot but to themes as well which touch on the role and view of women in society during this particular time period. The characters are very well characterized and developed, adding to the thrilling story-line. Early on, the reader is able to form a connection with these characters because of their aspirations for the future. The struggles that they overcome and the adversity that they face are very easy for the reader to identify with. The story is focused primarily on the protagonist, Eliza, however, the other supporting characters full of depth and life. Eliza is strong, independent and full of vigor and her undeterred spirit is a driving force in the novel. She is an exceptional example of a woman, escaping the boundaries of her time, by establishing herself as controller of her own fate and destiny. This novel would be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys historical fiction with an intriguing plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Daughter of Fortune, by Isabelle Allende is very well written. At the beginning, it was confusing when Eliza Sommers was left as a baby at a front door of a business. Jeremy Sommers decided to adopt Eliza when she sees her. She is raised with much discipline and has strict rules. There are also many different points of view from the different characters in the book. In the first part of the book, it mainly talks about Eliza’s upbringing and how she had a hard time growing up. She also falls in love for the first time. Part two and three; get clearer because it becomes more interesting. She goes to find the love of her life, and how she loses all her money. I believe this book stays true to what a girl would do trying to find the love of her life. It is a reflection of reality because she struggles on her journey. For example, one of her main struggles would be when she had a miscarriage. Also, when she has to act and dress like a man for four years. She does this so she can travel safely and get to the destination she wants to get too. Also, I believe it is a good representation of reflection of reality because she falls in love with her best friend that takes care of her when she needs it the most. Even though she is looking for the love of her life in California, it shows the hardships she goes through to choose which one is the best for her. Overall, I would recommend this book, but in the beginning it is not very clear and can somewhat be confusing.   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has been years sibce i read this but i remember enjoying it start to finish.
Chloe_Wespiser More than 1 year ago
I read the book The Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende which was published by HarperCollins Publishers Inc. in New York City in the year of 2002. The main theme of Daughter of Fortune is love. The theme of Daughter of Fortune is love because throughout the book there is a form of love that is apparent, mainly between the main character (Eliza) and her lover(s). The book follows two intertwined love stories and also focuses in on others as the book plays out, but the main two are those of Eliza and her lovers. Eliza is involved in the love of this story because she is involved in love affair that takes her halfway across the world, and if it weren’t for the love that she has with her “lover” there would be no story. Not only was Eliza involved in a love affair that took her to California to follow her supposed love, she also became involved with another man. Not only were these love stories apparent, but Eliza’s adopted mom and Tao Chi’en, a friend of Eliza’s, also had tales of their own romances intertwined within the Eliza’s story. Daughter of Fortune is about a half Chilean, half English orphan who was left with the Sommers family where she grew up gaining knowledge and skills, like playing the piano. As she grows up, she starts to notice changes about herself, including an attraction to boys. Eliza meets a man who she falls in love with as soon as she lays her eyes on him. When the Gold Rush strikes, Eliza’s love travels to California to find his fortune and Eliza decides to follow him shortly after. The young girl sneaks onto a vessel to arrive in California two months later. With the help of a befriended cook, Eliza makes it through the journey, but barely. She suffers from medical complications and stays extremely weak for years after her voyage. Once in California, she set off to find her lover, but has a difficult time because she was a few months later than he was. Being so much farther ahead of Eliza, her love could be anywhere in California, which means it was left to fate. Somewhere in the midst of her journey, Eliza seems to fall for another man who she grew close to. Which lover will she choose in the end? I have very mixed feelings about this book because at times I was very bored and at others I was intrigued and on the edge of my seat, but overall I liked the book more than disliked it. I enjoyed reading this book because the detail was rich and frequent, which made it feel like I was living in the time that it was taking place and experiencing everything the characters were experiencing. At one point, the author says “…whitewashed adobe and red tile roof, entry hall, one large room nearly bare of furniture…” (65). Allende was describing a small home that one of the characters stays in, and I felt like I was there. The suspense about what will happen to Eliza and what choices she will make also adds to the book in a good way. One reason that I found the book boring in times was because there was a lack of voice; “…too poor to worry about details…” (153) just sounds generic to me, which I dislike, I prefer a more original take in what I read, not cliché’s. While reading this I learned a lot about what it was like in the time of the Gold Rush. I learned more about my own country during the Gold Rush, which was a subject I never learned much about, except for now. For example, it was put into perspective how many people came to California during this time, and of how many races (Chinese, Chilean, Mexican, ect.). I also learned how to build on my own writing techniques through this piece because I could analyze Allende’s strategies and decide if they were effective for my own use. For example, Allende wove separate stories through the book, which to me was a way to intrigue the audience, and now I can try and use that. I would recommend this book, but only to a certain audience. I don’t think that anyone below the high school level should read this because the subject matter is very mature and there are very vivid graphics that may not be appropriate for children. Also, the way the author portrayed the story was very complex, and may be hard for younger readers to understand. Although, for high school, it was very age appropriate and it is relevant to education so you can learn a lot from it.
kristina81598 More than 1 year ago
The story starts off during the 1840's in chile, When a young Chilean girl named Eliza was dropped off at the doorstep of Rose, John, and Jeremy Sommers home. They lived in a port of Valparaiso and she grew up learning everything she knows from Mama Fresia the Sommers cook. As Eliza starts to get older she falls in love with a young Chilean man named Joaquin Andieta. The couple had an affair resulting in Eliza becoming pregnant. Joaquin had already left to go California in search of gold and fortune. So Eliza sets off with her friend Tao Chien to search for her love.During there journey Eliza becomes very sick and suffers a horrible miscarriage. Eliza is then disguised as a Chinese boy that she carry's on during there stop in San Fransisco.While in San Fransisco Eliza earns some money by selling snacks and Tao becomes a successful physician.But while Eliza is gone rose and Jeremy are wondering where Eliza is.John Sommers then also catches on the Eliza is missing so Rose and John decided it was time to tell Jeremy there shocking secret about Eliza. John is Eliza's father. This was something that Rose and John have kept from Jeremy from the day Eliza showed up on there doorstep.John then sets off to San Fransisco to go find his daughter with one of his good friends Paulina Rodriguez de la Cruz . After a while Eliza losses her love for Joaquin but she just doesn't want to stop her journey so she keeps on moving and becoming more disguises. Eliza soon meets up with a women named Joe Bonecrusher. She is the owner of a traveling brothel that employs Eliza as a cook and piano player. The members of the group all believed that Eliza is a homosexual man from her disguise.Tao then decides to move back to china but soon realizes once he got there he missed Eliza. Meanwhile in San Fransisco John Sommers meets a journalist named "Jacob Freemont" his real name Joe Todd promises that he will search for Eliza. Jacob starts to write articles about a name named Joaquin Murieta who's description is almost the exact same as Joaquin Andieta, Eliza's old love.Tao returns to Eliza and they soon fall in love.They started to help out young prostitutes escape and start new lives. The articles started to catch Eliza's eye when Jacob the journalist started to write that Joaquin Murieta was shot and her and Tao set off to see if it was Joaquin Andieta . Jacob was then able to tell the sommers that Eliza is happy and alive. i thought that this book was ok, some parts of the book i didn't quite get but at the end it started to get a turn of events when Eliza and Tao fell in love and i liked how that played out.i learned that if you keep searching for something in particular something better might come along and from that Eliza was searching for Joaquin and ended up with Tao.
xoxoancailindeasxoxo More than 1 year ago
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende, is short terms is about a girl in the 1800's who decides to follow her heart and go to California from Chile with her poor lover to live there during the gold rush, hoping to strike it rich. Eliza Sommers was raised by European brother and sister, Rose and Jeremy Sommers after being found on their doorstep on day. They are from England but live in Valparaiso, Chile. Rose wants to raise Eliza ad a proper English woman, but Eliza often spends her days (and nights) with Mama Fresia, the cook. Over most of Part I, Eliza's upbringing and her maturity are told. Eliza falls in love with Joaquin Andieta, a Chilean man living in poverty. They have an affair and Eliza gets pregnant. When news of gold being discovered in California reaches Chile, Joaquin goes out to California in search of a fortune. Wanting to follow her lover, Eliza goes to California, with the help of her Chinese zhong yi (physician) friend, Tao Chi'en. She is hidden in the bowels of a ship headed by a Dutch Lutheran captain, Vincent Katz. In the beginning of Part II, Tao's past is revealed, from his early life in poverty, to his apprenticeship to a master acupuncturist, and his ill-fated marriage to a young and frail girl who dies after a brief marriage. Lin's spirit later comes in to help her widowed husband at crucial points for Tao in later parts of the book. During the journey to California, Eliza, due to her pregnancy, is frail and sick, and later suffers a miscarriage. To leave with ship without suspicion, Tao disguises Eliza as a Chinese boy, a disguise that she maintains in San Francisco where they have landed. Eliza earns money by selling some Chilean snacks and Tao becomes a successful zhong yi. Tao, after seeing the greed and brothels in San Francisco, loses most of his faith in America. Eliza sets on her journey to find Joaquin, using a male cowboy's disguise and the moniker Elias Andieta, and claiming to be Joaquin's brother. Meanwhile in Valparaiso, Rose and Jeremy are shocked to find that Eliza has disappeared. Part III finds Eliza broke after still trying to search for Joaquin; she occasionally sends letters to Tao describing what she sees in her journey. Although she has fallen out of love with Joaquin, she cannot stop journeying. In an outskirt town, Eliza meets up with Joe Bonecrusher's travelling caravan of prostitutes and ends up travelling with them as cook and piano player. Themes in this book are freedom, love, and determination to fight for what you believe in and not give up. This book was okay in my opinion. This isn¿t a genre of book that I usually read. I mostly read young adult books, but when I looked at this book, I was shocked to see the words so much smaller. It definitely took me a much longer time to finish it. At times I was confused on what was going on and whose point of view I was reading from. I also had to stop several times to go and look up a Spanish word that I didn¿t know and that impacted my ability to read it, especially if there wasn¿t a dictionary in my hand. I do like history and the time period from the signing of the American Constitution and the end of the civil war. I thought that by reading this, I would learn about some history or event that happened in a Spanish country and what I got was a Chilean immigrant going to California in the midst of the gold rush to search for gold and gain freedom. Not exactly what I wanted. I like Isabel Allende though. I asked a couple of my adult
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is one of my all time favorites. I love the way the fictional story is intertwined with the history of the 1840's gold rush. Definitely something I would reccomend to historical fiction lovers!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ChesapeakeCon More than 1 year ago
I liked the book very much although it was not an easy read. I'm really losing patience with authors who write and write and write drawing the reader in only to drop the ending like a hot potato. I am left guessing as to what happened with each one of the characters we had gotten to know..
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Isabelle Allende's Daughter Of Fortune is a well-written, page turning novel about an orphan from Valparasio, Chile's grueling journey to California in search of her true love. Eliza Sommers is described as a small, slender girl with features as delicate as a quill drawing. With a strong will and blind optimism, she's an ideal character. From the get-go, she knew she never really belonged to the family. When her destined love, Joaquin Andieta set off to find gold in California. Eliza didn't hesitate to follow him. Eliza was sent as a stow-away by ship toward California, and during her voyage, she dealt with a tragic terminated pregnancy in the midst becoming very close with Tao Chi'en, a Chinese doctor who seemed to be able to heal anything and everything. Someone she would never consider loving turned out to be not only her best friend but her possible true love. After spending much time in California, living and working with Tao, and being exposed to living on her own, she realizes she has an ultimate decision to make.. Continue her virtue for Joaquin in hopes that one day they'll reunite, or pursue Tao? Has she become too accustomed to living without Joaquin, and let herself believe Tao be an adequate replacement or is it really meant to be? I would highly recommend this, more to young adults due to the content, and I am defiantly considering and plan on reading more books by this author. Isabelle Allende really captured the emotions of the characters in the book, many times I felt like I was apart of the story, and it was very relatable. The novel is a perfect example of how much someone would go through for what they consider to be their "true love", tangled feelings, and how the power of love can change so much.
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tchrreader More than 1 year ago
This is a good book that I thought was entertaining and fun to read. I really like historical fiction and this was a good one. This is the story of an orphan raised by a single woman and her brother. Eliza follows her lover to California during the Gold Rush of 1849. On a ship she has to fight for her life and ends up making friends with a Chinese doctor. This was a really good story, I really liked Eliza. The end leaves you wanting to know more! You will like this one!
emily_bean More than 1 year ago
"Daughter of Fortune" by Isabel Allende, published by HarperCollins Publishers, is the story of a Chilean orphan named Eliza Sommers who is taken in and raised by a rich socialite named Rose and her two brothers, John and Jeremy. The plot of the book revolves around the relationship between Eliza and her adoptive family, and her struggle to find her lover once he leaves for California in the Gold Rush of 1849. Eliza was a very unconventional girl growing up in Chile in the 1840s; she was outspoken, opinionated, and, for the sucker punch, falls in love with a poor man from the slums of Valparaiso, the city in which she lives. In the beginning of the book, Eliza starts off as a young girl, completely under the control of her adoptive mother, who gave her the education that was expected of young women of the time; housework, playing musical instruments, perfect posture, and obedience to the men in her life. From an early age, though, Eliza knew that this was not how she wanted to live her life. As the story progresses, Eliza makes the decision to abandon her socialite lifestyle in Chile and follow her lover, Joaquin Andieta, to California. She learns to live a completely different life than the one she was brought up in, but she comes to enjoy and cherish her new life even more than her prior. By the end of the story, she has come to terms with her past relationships and looks ahead to a bright future. As Eliza tries to leave Chile to go in search of Joaquin, she meets a young man from China by the name of Tao Chi'en, the cook on her Uncle John's ship, and he helps her get to California and looks after her to the best of his abilities while she is there. As time progresses, they develop a very close friendship, and they feel it is their duty to look after one another. Tao originally wanted to travel to California to study Western medicine, because in China he was a celebrated zhong yi, which was a Chinese doctor who used methods such as acupuncture to cure ailing patients. But because of things he learned and people he met in California, he realized that there were more important things to life than studying medicine. After reading this book, I had mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I liked the plot of the story and its eventual outcome, but on the other hand, I felt that the author took too long to explain trivial points that didn't quite need to be expanded upon in my opinion. She would explain almost every detail of each character's back story, and by the time she was finished, I had forgotten what she had originally been talking about and I had to flip back a few pages and reread. Overall, though, the story itself was engaging and it was very well written. From reading Daughter of Fortune, I learned that a woman's role in society was very different from that of women today. I knew that the roles were different before I began reading, but I didn't quite know to what extent. Basically, their only goal was to become good, obedient wives for their husbands and bear children. Eliza took pride in defying that expectation, making a life for herself free from the restrictions of her high-society life in Chile. I recommend this book to higher level readers, probably 9th graders and higher, just because of the depth the author goes into, and some scenes in the book should be for mature readers only. Also, higher level readers will be able to appreciate the characters' struggles more, and possibly be able to relate to some of
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Un dia, no sabiendo que libro escojer de esta escritora. Me encontre este magnifico libro. Isabel Allende lo volvio hacer de nuevo. Cada pagina esta llena de detalles. Una aventura de una mujer en busca de su amor, que enbarca hacia los mares para inciar sus busqueda.
Awesomeness1 More than 1 year ago
I'm a sucker for historical-fiction so when I saw this book at the library it looked like candy. An orphan, Eliza Sommers is raised in the Chilean house of a Victorian spinster, Miss Rose, and her rigid brother, Jeremy. At the age of 16, Eliza falls for dirt-poor Joaquin Andieta, a clerk for her uncle Jeremy. In the year of 1849, Joaquin decides to search for his fortune in the Californian gold mines, and Eliza, pregnant with his child, follows him. This book was slow-going for me. The writing was good, but I would have loved to read this book in its original language. The beginning was rather dull, but did get progressively better when Eliza finally arrives in California. Each character has a detailed back-story and their own share of vices. My favorite aspect of the book, being a romantic, was the relationship between Eliza and Tao Chi'en, and I wished that was the main focus of the book. The book could become a bit tedious, at times appearing to be a documentary of California during the Gold Rush. I also felt Allende was a little preoccupied with prostitutes. She tried to account for every single hooker that set foot on California soil. But still, the only part that really pissed me off was the last page. It was just so abrupt, letting the reader, in this case me, to make their own happily ever afters. I HATE THAT. I spent this whole book waiting for the thing that Allende kept hinting at to happen, but then I get nothing. It was just so frustrating. This book got three instead of four stars because of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago