Daughter of Fortune

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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 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 ...
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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review

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

Boston Globe Magazine
Allende is one of the most important novelists to emerge from Latin America in the past decade.
Miami Herald
A passionate storyteller….Her writing is lyrical, mystical, ribald, funny.
Washington Post
Like a slow, seductive lover, Allende teases, tempts and titillates with mesmerizing stories.
Austin American Statesman
. . .a complex, touching and magical tale of real lyrical power,delivered by Blair Brown, one of the most talented audio readers.
Los Angeles Times
An extravagant tale by a gifted storyteller whose spell brings to life the 19th century world. . . . entertaining and well paced . . . compelling.
Philadelphia Inquirer
. . . among the elements a narrator can bring to a book are heightened mood, a different slant on the words, a tone, an atmosphere. Blair Brown does all this and more.
Los Angeles Times
An extravagant tale by a gifted storyteller whose spell brings to life the 19th century world. . . . entertaining and well paced . . . compelling.
New York Times Book Review
A "rich cast of characters . . . a pleasurable story. . . . In Daughter of Fortune, Allende has continued her obsession with passion and violence.
Time
Allende projects a woman's point of view with confidence, control and an expansive definition of romance as a fact of life.
The Boston Sunday Globe
Allende is a unique and staggering storyteller with an enviable talent for intricate narratives . . . Once the reader submits to her wizardry, a florid, detailed universe of hopes and lust, of class struggle and quarreling individual identities, unfolds.
Denver Post
Allende has created a masterpiece of historical fiction that is passionate, adventurous, and brilliantly insightful. And right up to the end, it's suspenseful and surprising.
Miami Herald
The Chilean novelist possesses the eyes, ears, mind, heart and pluck to manufacture generous and feisty fiction. . . . [A] rambunctious picaresque about love and obsession.
San Diego Union-Tribune
Allende interweaves a densely layered tale of passion with the stuff of history and legend.
Entertainment Weekly
Allende details her plot and settings richly.
San Francisco Chronicle
A fast-pased adventure story.
Vogue Australia
Daughter of Fortune is full of energy and vivacity. It holds out a promise of happiness.
Boston Sunday Globe
Allende is a unique and staggering storyteller with an enviable talent for intricate narratives . . . Once the reader submits to her wizardry, a florid, detailed universe of hopes and lust, of class struggle and quarreling individual identities, unfolds.
Philadelphia Inquirer
. . . among the elements a narrator can bring to a book are heightened mood, a different slant on the words, a tone, an atmosphere. Blair Brown does all this and more.
Boston Sunday Globe
Allende is a unique and staggering storyteller with an enviable talent for intricate narratives . . . Once the reader submits to her wizardry, a florid, detailed universe of hopes and lust, of class struggle and quarreling individual identities, unfolds.
Denver Post
Allende has created a masterpiece of historical fiction that is passionate, adventurous, and brilliantly insightful. And right up to the end, it's suspenseful and surprising.
Miami Herald
The Chilean novelist possesses the eyes, ears, mind, heart and pluck to manufacture generous and feisty fiction. . . . [A] rambunctious picaresque about love and obsession.
San Diego Union-Tribune
Allende interweaves a densely layered tale of passion with the stuff of history and legend.
Entertainment Weekly
Allende details her plot and settings richly.
San Francisco Chronicle
A fast-pased adventure story.
Vogue Australia
Daughter of Fortune is full of energy and vivacity. It holds out a promise of happiness.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Allende expands her geographical boundaries in this sprawling, engrossing historical novel flavored by four cultures—English, Chilean, Chinese and American—and set during the 1849 California Gold Rush. The alluring tale begins in Valpara&iacute:so, Chile, with young Eliza Sommers, who was left as a baby on the doorstep of wealthy British importers Miss Rose Sommers and her prim brother, Jeremy. Now a 16-year-old, and newly pregnant, Eliza decides to follow her lover, fiery clerk Joaqu&iacute:n Andieta, when he leaves for California to make his fortune in the gold rush. Enlisting the unlikely aid of Tao Chi'en, a Chinese shipboard cook, she stows away on a ship bound for San Francisco. Tao Chi'en's own story—richly textured and expansively told—begins when he is born into a peasant family and sold into slavery, where it is his good fortune to be trained as a master of acupuncture. Years later, while tending to a sailor in colonial Hong Kong, he is shanghaied and forced into service at sea. During the voyage with Eliza, Tao nurses her through a miscarriage. When they disembark, Eliza is disguised as a boy, and she spends the next four years in male attire so she may travel freely and safely. Eliza's search for Joaquín (rumored to have become an outlaw) is disappointing, but through an eye-opening stint as a pianist in a traveling brothel and through her charged friendship with Tao, now a sought-after healer and champion of enslaved Chinese prostitutes, Eliza finds freedom, fulfillment and maturity. Effortlessly weaving in historical background, Allende (House of the Spirits; Paula) evokes in pungent prose the great melting pot of early California and the colorful societies of Valparaíso and Canton. A gallery of secondary characters, developed early on, prove pivotal to the plot. In a book of this scope, the narrative is inevitably top-heavy in spots, and the plot wears thin toward the end, but this is storytelling at its most seductive, a brash historical adventure.
Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Allende's first novel in six years (The Infinite Plan, 1993, etc.) delivers her gentle, often plush style at extravagant length to tell the life of Eliza Sommers, a Chilean woman who immigrates to San Francisco in the 1840s. Abandoned as a baby in the British colony of Valparaiso, Eliza is raised by Jeremy and Rose Sommers, a prosperous pair of siblings who consider the girl a gift. For unmarried Rose, Eliza is compensation for the child she's always lacked; brother Jeremy is pleased that the infant legitimizes their odd cohabitation. A thriving seaport, Valparaiso welcomes sailors and hucksters in abundance: Jeremy is a ship's captain, and one Jacob Todd a Bible salesman without official sanction. Todd quickly falls for Rose, though she misunderstands him and thinks he's fallen in love with young Eliza. Some 200 pages later, Eliza falls in love with Joaquín Andieta, who her pregnant and then sails for the promise of gold in California. Eliza follows, miscarries during her passage north, and is befriended by Tao Chi'en, a Chinese physician. (His early struggles and departure from Asia are treated in detail.) Meanwhile, Eliza wanders through California with undiminished hope. This takes years, and along the way Tao Chi'en is transformed from his traditional ways, while Eliza adopts the role of a man and encounters dozens of curious people. Back in Valparaiso, the Sommers pair regret their loss but are given hope of tracking Eliza down when Todd—now a newspaper reporter—tells them he's seen her. Finally, after Eliza discovers that Joaquín, having become a bandit, has been murdered, she and Tao Chi'en are free to explore their (so-far unexpressed) lovefor each other. Allende has clearly enjoyed providing rich elaborations that don't particularly advance the story here but affirm her theme of personal discovery. Each of her characters finds "something different from what we were looking for." With this novel, the same may not be said of readers who enjoy Allende's fiction.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380821013
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/28/2001
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende is the bestselling author of twelve works of fiction, four memoirs, and three young-adult novels, which have been translated into more than thirty-five languages with sales in excess of fifty-seven million copies. She is the author most recently of the bestsellers Maya's Notebook, Island Beneath the Sea, Inés of My Soul, Portrait in Sepia, and Daughter of Fortune. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She received the Hans Christian Andersen Literary Award in 2012. Born in Peru and raised in Chile, she lives in California.

Biography

In Isabel Allende's books, human beings do not exist merely in the three-dimensional sense. They can exert themselves as memory, as destiny, as spirits without form, as fairy tales. Just as the more mystical elements of Allende's past have shaped her work, so has the hard-bitten reality. Working as a journalist in Chile, Allende was forced to flee the country with her family after her uncle, President Salvador Allende, was killed in a coup in 1973.

Out of letters to family back in Chile came the manuscript that was to become Allende's first novel. Her arrival on the publishing scene in 1985 with The House of the Spirits was instantly recognized as a literary event. The New York Times called it "a unique achievement, both personal witness and possible allegory of the past, present and future of Latin America."

To read a book by Allende is to believe in (or be persuaded of) the power of transcendence, spiritual and otherwise. Her characters are often what she calls "marginal," those who strive to live on the fringes of society. It may be someone like Of Love and Shadows 's Hipolito Ranquileo, who makes his living as a circus clown; or Eva Luna, a poor orphan who is the center of two Allende books (Eva Luna and The Stories of Eva Luna).

Allende's characters have in common an inner fortitude that proves stronger than their adversity, and a sense of lineage that propels them both forward and backward. When you meet a central character in an Allende novel, be prepared to meet a few generations of his or her family. This multigenerational thread drives The House of the Spirits, the tale of the South American Trueba family. Not only did the novel draw Allende critical accolades (with such breathless raves as "spectacular," "astonishing" and "mesmerizing" from major reviewers), it landed her firmly in the magic realist tradition of predecessor (and acknowledged influence) Gabriel García Márquez. Some of its characters also reappeared in the historical novels Portrait in Sepia and Daughter of Fortune.

"It's strange that my work has been classified as magic realism," Allende has said, "because I see my novels as just being realistic literature." Indeed, much of what might be considered "magic" to others is real to Allende, who based the character Clara del Valle in The House of the Spirits on her own reputedly clairvoyant grandmother. And she has drawn as well upon the political violence that visited her life: Of Love and Shadows (1987) centers on a political crime in Chile, and other Allende books allude to the ideological divisions that affected the author so critically.

But all of her other work was "rehearsal," says Allende, for what she considers her most difficult and personal book. Paula is written for Allende's daughter, who died in 1992 after several months in a coma. Like Allende's fiction, it tells Paula's story through that of Allende's own and of her relatives. Allende again departed from fiction in Aphrodite, a book that pays homage to the romantic powers of food (complete with recipes for two such as "Reconciliation Soup"). The book's lighthearted subject matter had to have been a necessity for Allende, who could not write for nearly three years after the draining experience of writing Paula.

Whichever side of reality she is on, Allende's voice is unfailingly romantic and life-affirming, creating mystery even as she uncloaks it. Like a character in Of Love and Shadows, Allende tells "stories of her own invention whose aim [is] to ease suffering and make time pass more quickly," and she succeeds.

Good To Know

Allende has said that the character of Gregory Reeves in The Infinite Plan is based on her husband, Willie Gordon.

Allende begins all of her books on January 8, which she considers lucky because it was the day she began writing a letter to her dying grandfather that later became The House of the Spirits.

She began her career as a journalist, editing the magazine Paula and later contributing to the Venezuelan paper El Nacional.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Eliza

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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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Chapter One
Eliza

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 accept the other explanation of herorigins.

"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 one in her right mind would want to have begun life in a common soap crate-but out of respect for the truth, she could not accept it. Her bloodhound nose remembered very well the first scents of her life, which were not clean batiste sheets but wool, male sweat, and tobacco.The next smell she remembered was the monumental stench of a goat.

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Introduction

October 1999

In 1985, Isabel Allende published The House of the Spirits, a fantastical, political Chilean novel that hit the bestseller lists and established her as one of the best Latin-American writers. Now, with Daughter of Fortune, Allende again returns to writing fiction, and in this book she combines the Latin-American lifestyle with the setting of the United States during the gold rush of the mid-19th century. Eliza Sommers, a young Chilean woman brought up by an upper-class British family, heads for California to find her lover, a lower-class man who had set out for America to find his fortune. Read an excerpt from the first chapter of Daughter of Fortune below.
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Reading Group Guide

Plot Summary
Can we control our own destinies? What does it take to change the course of our lives so that we may pursue our dreams? And how do we know that our decisions are the right ones, especially if we hurt others or ourselves in the process? These are the questions posed by Isabel Allende's fascinating story of bravery and passion, of a young woman's incredible journey from one world to another, from innocence to wisdom. Born into a 19th-century society that values birthright above character, Eliza Sommers is at a startling disadvantage. An orphan of unknown heritage, Eliza is raised in the British colony of Valpara’so, Chile, by the Victorian spinster Rose Sommers and her brother Jeremy. She is not even sure how she arrived at the Sommers household-only that she is lucky enough to be cared for, educated, and even loved by her adopted family. So when Eliza exhibits the signs of a first love, the women in her life come to her "rescue," certain that this adolescent passion will lead to trouble. But Eliza's feelings for Joaqu’n, a young, penniless revolutionary, are all-consuming. Meanwhile, in America, gold has been discovered in the hills of northern California, and by 1849, everyone is swept up in the promise of the Gold Rush. When Joaqu’n leaves Eliza in hopes of striking it rich in California, she is determined to follow him there, risking every comfort and certainty she has ever known.

Allende's portrait of California illustrates the chaos and excitement of the Gold Rush-the promise of wealth, and of a new world. Like Valpara’so, San Francisco is a major port into which foreigners stream daily. But Eliza is a stranger in California. Cloaking her identity-and hersex-she must carve out a new life for herself by whatever means possible. Like thousands of other newcomers, and like her Chinese friend Tao Chi'en, she is thrust into a melting pot of unfamiliar languages and customs. But Eliza and Tao Chi'en quickly learn the value of assimilation, gradually discarding their own suspicions and prejudices. Eliza's love for Joaqu’n leads her to California, but the majesty of the land, the opportunities it holds, and the chance to reinvent herself as a woman in control of her own life are forces that eventually usurp her youthful infatuation. Spirited and sensual, willful and determined, Eliza is a modern woman living in a world that is just learning to be modern. Her courageous story compels us to look beyond the boundaries imposed on us by others and by ourselves. And it teaches us that by opening our minds - and our hearts - we are opening ourselves up to golden opportunities for love, happiness and good fortune.

Topics for Discussion

1. Eliza thinks that the facts of her birth don't matter: "It is what you do in this world that matters, not how you come into it," she claims. Ta Ch'ien, on the other hand, cannot 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." How do these different beliefs determine the way Tao Chi'en and Eliza make decisions about their lives? What are your own feelings about ancestry and self-determination?

2. Eliza grows up under the influence of a number of strong individuals--Mama Fresia, Rose, Jeremy Sommers and his brother, John. What does she learn from each of people? How do their differing philosophies contribute to Eliza's experience of the world? How do they shape her personality?

3. In 19th century Chile, a married woman could not travel, sign legal documents, go to court, sell or buy anything without her husband's permission. No wonder Rose doesn't want to get married! How would the lives of the women you know be different under those conditions? What are the consequences in a society that limits the freedoms of a segments of its citizens?

4. What do you think Allende means by referring to Eliza as a "daughter of fortune?" How are the different definitions of the word "fortune" significant in Eliza's story and the novel as a whole?

5. How is Tao Chi'en a "son" of fortune? What are the crucial turning points in his life, and where do they lead him? To what extent is he responsible for his own good and bad fortunes?

6. "At first the Chinese looked on the foreigners with scorn and disgust, with the great superiority of those who feel they are the only truly civilized beings in the universe, but in the space of a few years they learned to respect and fear them." writes Allende about the arrival of Western peoples into Hong Kong. How is this pattern of suspicion, fear, and resigned acceptance repeated throughout the novel? How does Allende illustrate the confusion of clashing cultures in Valparaiso, on board Eliza's ship, and in California? Do you think people of today are more tolerant of other cultures than they were 150 years ago?

7. While Eliza is vulnerable in California because of her sex, Tao Chi'en's prospects are limited because of his race. How do both characters overcome their "handicaps?" What qualities help them make their way in a culture that is foreign and often unwelcoming?

8. What do details such as Mama Fresia's home remedies and her attempts to "cure" Eliza of her love for Joaqu’n, or Tao Chi'en's medical education and his habit of contacting his dead wife say about the role of the spiritual in the everyday life? Must the spiritual and the secular remain separate? What about the spiritual and scientific worlds?

9. How have the novel's characters - Rose or Jacob Todd, for instance - managed to create opportunities out of the obstacles they've faced? What do you think Allende is saying about the role that fate plays in our lives, and about our capacity to take control over our own destinies? How are we all sons or daughters of fortune?

About the Author Nacida en Perú, Isabel Allende se crió en Chile. Algunos de sus libros,La casa de los espíritus, De amor y sombra, Eva Luna, Cuentos de Eva Luna, El plan infinito, y más recientemente, Paula, traducidos a más de 25 lenguas, en cabezan la lista de bestsellers en varios paises de America y Europa. Isabel Allende reside actualmente en California.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 140 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(55)

4 Star

(48)

3 Star

(22)

2 Star

(9)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 140 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reading this is an adventure on its own.

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2009

    A vast novel full of insight and adventure

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 11, 2013

    I read the book The Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende which

    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.

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  • Posted May 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    It Was Okay, and Slightly Boring

    Overall I felt this book was well researched. Although I didn't learn much regarding the time period, I did feel that Isabel Allende captured the mood of the gold rush well. The story was interesting and rather intense, however, some parts seemed too rushed while other parts seemed too slow. I also wished I could have learned more about the characters. Rather than allowing readers to get to know the characters through their dialogue and actions, Allende took the more artificial rout and tried to force their history into the narrative. I wish it were a more natural experience.

    Overall I grew very bored with the book, but I felt that the combination of the well researched history and the elegant writing style should be given three stars.

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  • Posted December 12, 2012

    The story starts off during the 1840's in chile, When a young Ch

    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.


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  • Posted February 6, 2012

    have not read this one yet

    This was recommended by a friend. I have not read it yet.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 7, 2011

    Not the Brightest Shine of All

    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

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2011

    Wonderful book!

    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!

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  • Posted March 18, 2011

    What is with these abrupt endings..??

    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

    Posted December 13, 2010

    Daughter Of Fortune

    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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  • Posted May 29, 2010

    You will like this book-

    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!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2010

    Un libro Extrordinario.

    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.

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  • Posted November 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

    I believe Isabel Allende purpose for writing this book was to show people how hard it was to be a women and a feminst during this time. Isabel Allende wrote on the subject of feminism rather than another subject, beacuse sh probably supports this subject more than anyother subject And she probably has an emotional tie on this subject. The Daughter Fortue was about a girl named Eliza who was on a journey to find her one true love and she did but it wasnt the person she expected. Eliza was left on the doorstep of her adoptive parents as a baby. She led a comfotable rich life, until she met her first love, a poor man.She feel in "love" with this man She lost her innocence to this man. Soon her dream man left to california in search of gold, Eliza finds out she is pregnant. This is a horrifing thing to happen to her, because it is unexceptable for a girl her age, unmarried, rich, and very educated to be pregnant. So Eliza leaves her family in secret and stows away on a boat with the help of a chinese friend, Tao,who was forced into labour. Months in pregnancy and still on the boat hidden, Eliza has a miscarriage. She is devasted and ill. Luckily, Tao used to be a doctor in his home in China, he helped her trough out this difficult time in her life. Once she gets to California she is still determind to find her lover. Tao also jions her on her mission.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2009

    A beautiful epic story, sweeping through several countries and cultures, packed with intrigue, mystery, and romance. Never a dull moment

    I could not put this book down. The writing is beautiful, and the story easily carries you along. The characters are fully developed; you will come to feel that you know them and care about what happens to them. This was one of those books that I enjoyed so much, I was sorry when I finished. Later, I happily discovered there is a sequel - Portrait in Sepia. Portrait in Sepia is good, but Daughter of Fortune is much, much better. The audio version is excellent, too. I listened to it on tape and it was great.

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  • Posted March 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    you can not put the book down!

    It's a very interesting book. You can not put it down, there is an interesting scene in every page of the book. There's so much to learn from the historical point in time. Very vivid and captivating.

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  • Posted January 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    nice surprise

    A new favorite. I was not expecting much from this book. I was just looking for a way to pass ahot summer's afternoon. Litlle did I know this would become one of my favorite books. I cried, I laughed, and cried some more. I was a little disappointed with the ending, but I normally am.

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  • Posted December 18, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I Fell In Love

    I got this book, originally, as a library sale. I love period books & this is definitely one of those kinds of books. What I like about the book was that it not only intrigued my emotions & my free spirit, but it brought some history to light for me. I could image the harbors, the mountains, how California must have looked at that time, etc. This book spun me into a deep passionate reader of Isabel Allende's. You have to have a flare for history in many cultures to appreciate this books, as well as many of her other titles.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2008

    Dragged on and on

    Although I was compelled by some of the characters I felt the story dragged on forever with a less than satisfying ending. I wish I hadn't taken the time to read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2008

    daughter of fortune

    Daughter of Fortune takes place in Chile from 1943 to 1853. Eliza Sommers is adopted by Miss Rose Sommers she takes her in on March 15, 1832. Eliza has two uncles, John and Jeremy. John is a sea captain and when he comes to Chile he gives Eliza jewels from other countries. Jeremy lives with Miss Rose and together they take care of Eliza. When Eliza is a young lady Miss Rose starts to search for suitors to be Eliza¿s husband. Eliza does not know that planned marriages are going on behind her back, but she soon finds out. Miss Rose finds Michael Steward who does not wed Eliza because he has fallen in love with Miss Rose. They send him off and Eliza swears to never love another. Joaquin Andieta comes into Eliza¿s life when she is sixteen and steals her heart with one look. Joaquin is a poor man and Miss Rose despises that Eliza has feelings for him. She forbids Eliza to see him, but little does she know they have many meetings behind her back. In 1849 the gold rush struck. Joaquin left Chile for California in order to find gold to bring back for his mother and Eliza. But Eliza is pregnant and cannot wait for his return. She boards her Uncle John¿s boat in secrecy with the help of Tao Chi¿en a Chinese doctor. Tao helps Eliza survive the trip there on the way she has a miscarriage, which makes her very ill. Eliza was lucky to live through the voyage because of how sick she had gotten Once the boat arrived in California Tao stays with Eliza and helps her search for Joaquin for many days not knowing when or what they will find. This book was enjoyable at times, and seemed to drag on at others. The book had many interesting people, but some facts about them were unnecessary.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2007

    A reviewer

    I kept waiting for it to climax but it never did. I wanted to stop reading but once I've started a book I have to finish it. There are so many other books worthy of time I would encourage you to pass on this one.

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