Daughter of Fortune

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 of panhandlers and prostitutes, immigrants and aristocrats, Eliza will discover a new life of freedom, independence, and a love greater than any ever dreamed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780613277877
Publisher: Demco Media
Publication date: 09/28/2000
Product dimensions: 5.54(w) x 8.16(h) x 1.22(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Isabel Allende is the author of twelve works of fiction, including the New York Times bestsellers Maya’s Notebook, Island Beneath the Sea, Inés of My Soul, Daughter of Fortune, and a novel that has become a world-renowned classic, The House of the Spirits. Born in Peru and raised in Chile, she lives in California.


San Rafael, California

Date of Birth:

August 2, 1942

Place of Birth:

Lima, Peru

Read an Excerpt

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.

Table of Contents

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.


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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Daughter of Fortune 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 184 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.
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Daughter of Fortune is the didactic tale of what happens when you become so obsessed with a thought, a feeling that you carry the obsession long after you remember why or what it was all about. This is the complicated saga of Eliza Sommers, raised as an orphan by a Victorian brother and sister - strict and unfeeling Jeremy and his spinster sister Rose. Secrets abound in Daughter of Fortune. When Eliza falls in love with delivery boy Joaquin Andieta her whole life changes. An obsession to be his "slave" claims her and compels her to follow him from Valparasio, Chile to California during the gold rush of 1849.
taramatchi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was one of those books that I found sometimes sucked me in and at other times seemed to drag on an on. Overall, I liked the story of Eliza and her eccentric family. Her journey to find her love during the Gold Rush in California was the most interesting part of the book for me. I loved learning more about this period in time as well as the interesting people she met along the way. The ending left me unfulfilled though. I just wish the ending was a bit stronger. It was very abrupt, almost making me feel as if Allende just woke up one morning and said "That's it. I'm done. You can decide how you think it ends." Which is why I can't give it 4 stars, but I could I would give it 3 1/2 stars.
MissTeacher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked up Daughter of Fortune hoping to meet a strong, fearless heroine who led me through a mystic world of passion and brilliance. Let's just say that the book did not deliver on that promise. Honestly, though, I am not upset at all! There aren't any magical happenings to speak of, but Allende's grand vistas and perfect imagery are majestic enough. And essentially, the two most prominent females in the book allow themselves to be drug about by the whims of the men in their lives, blinding their own eyes to potential happiness and just, well, accepting their lot. It wasn't until I was about two-thirds of the way through this novel that I realized, "It has to be this way!" The desire for freedom is the pulsing foundation of the novel, in whatever form it needs to take: freedom from status, from gender roles, from an oppressor, from a master, from one's self, from love, lust or duty... The last line of the book is a perfect summation, and was worth all the doubts I had while getting there.
kaionvin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's probably just coincidence of the Latin American writers I've sampled, but I'm just about starting to expect the exaltation of romance. Not just love, but consumming passion, with the sensual promise of tragedy hanging just left of frame.
bethanydhart on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This quietly consuming novel presents a patchwork of detailed characters (if you can resist the temptation to let them slip "out of sight, out of mind") and hallmarks of Allende's style; deliberate pace, a burning heroine, and certain adventure if one can escape societal incarcerations. Quite a treat for those who favor historical fiction and heavy-handed ancestral literature a la Gabriel García Márquez.
patricia_poland on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The background 'character' is the 1849 California Gold Rush - excellent setting. Eliza, the young heroine of Chile, who chases after a young lover who has headed off to seek his fame & fortune, finally realizes (like the Tin Man) that she had what she wanted after all. And that is the love we readers get to watch grow between her and Tao Chi'en, a man who saves her life, helps her whenever and wherever he can. He is a man who lost his wife some years before, who finds himself in a land that is not his but also realizes in the end, that he can have love again. This book has some great characters, like Eliza's favorite Uncle John and her adoptive mother, who have secrets that eventually are revealed; Tao's dead wife, Lin, who comes to him when he calls but urges him to move on. One of those books I hated to see end.
Jaelle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The historical detail in this tangled tale is fascinating, but with the story moving from Chile to China, and finally to California, the parts of the story do not gel together well. Worth reading if you like other Allende works, but not her best.
Carmenere on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
'Daughter of Fortune' is the story of Eliza Sommers the "adopted" daughter of Rose Sommers a wealthy, British spinster living in Valparaiso, Chile with her bachelor brothers. Eliza lives a semi-privilaged life with her family as she is just as comfortable in the cook's kitchen as she is with a salon full of Valparaiso's finest aristocrats. Eliza's life changes drastically when her young lover sets sail for San Francisco harbor and the promise of a brighter future that the Gold Rush was said to offer. Eliza sets off after him by becoming a stowaway with the help of a Chinese sailor/doctor, Tao Chi'en. Once in California, Eliza realizes just how large and spread out the new territory can be and the difficulty in finding her first love is great. Isabel Allende writes a very convincing historical fiction. Her characters are well drawn and three dimensional. The only problem I had, and it is a small one, is that the story was a little predictable. None the less, I enjoyed following Eliza in her search for her young lover, herself and unconventional love. 3.5 stars
estellen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book reminds me too much of her other work and is somewhat predictable. Still, if you like Allende, this is vintage stuff - poetic and structured, and easily accessible.
litelady-ajh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved this book! Mostly set in Chile, South America. Great main character who sets out on an adventure to California during the gold rush. There is a sequel - Portrait in Sepia, but this book is far superior.
babemuffin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book is interesting in its mix of cultures and races; English, Chiliean, and Chinese mainly. The book is really about the coming of age of Eliza Sommers, of how she grew to embrace her womanhood and herself as a person. However there are tangential background pieces of the people she is closely linked to which brings the whole mix of cultures together. It was an ok read.
lyzadanger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Absorbing and quietly magical, with scads of feminine energy and colonial oppression. An interesting work when paired against Allende's master work, 'The House of Spirits', which I read within a month of this novel. Allende chooses appealing patterns for her characters, giving us something that is both an easy pleasure and a satisfying literary read.'Daughter of Fortune' is not as complex as The House of the Spirits; it can be viewed as the groundbreaking novel's cheerful sister. We have a rebellious, role-breaking heroine (House of Spirits: Ditto) in love with a hopeless, down-on-his-luck socialist/Marxist (House of Spirits: Ditto) while living in an imprisoning and unforgiving society (HOS: Ditto). Where this branches away from The House of the Spirits is in Allende's newer interest in writing about the northern parts of the American continent. We get to go to California and hang out with the go-getters and upstarts of the Gold Rush. This is great fun.There's not a lot of trailblazing artistry in Daughter of Fortune. It does tend to revisit Allende's plot devices a bit too much at times. But Allende's genre is a compelling one, a spiritually calming one. One I find myself wanting to return to, often.
wareaglern633 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved the story but mostly I loved the world history infused into the story.
Alliebadger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A beautiful book. It seems a little dauntingly long at first, but it is well worth every page. Allende describes each character in delicious detail, with entire chapters devoted to characters our main character has minor interaction with. But you barely even notice because it's just so exciting to read and each story is unique and fits into a personality so clear that it's exciting to see that character again later on since you understand why he/she feels that way. The Zorro references are exciting, and the little plot teasers here and there remind you that the ending will be well worth your while.
angela.vaughn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book a while back and I can honestly say that it has stuck with me. It took me sometime to truely get into the story even thought Allende does a great job of weaving a tale that begins with such mystery and carries you through one womans jouney through life never knowing her true value. Then without knowing it, she finds what she has been looking for in the most unlikeliest of places. This book does get better and this is the very reason I never give up on a book. It is a true treasure, and a book that I love to share.
magooles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended historical fiction. I do not always enjoy flowery writing, but Isabel Allende does it in a way that describes both the physical and emotional setting perfectly. Her writing flows so perfectly that she can move around within the timeline of her narrative without skipping a beat (and without the reader missing the point). This book has a wonderful balance of characters where the scoundrels have a great deal of good in them and the respected have scandalizing pasts. If you enjoy this book, pick up the sequel ¿Portrait in Sepia.¿
thelittlereader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
i read this for The Olive Reader English 101 April monthly selection and i am so glad i did. it is not a book that was even on my radar, but it turned out to be one of my favorite reads of last month.this story is a sweeping saga that centers around Eliza Sommers, a Chilean girl, orphaned and raised by the English Sommers family, Rose and Jeremy, a stiff Victorian-esque brother and sister pair in Valparaiso, Chile. the family expectations of their perfect `daughter¿ are disrupted when Eliza falls in love with and chases after a peasant boy who runs off to the gold rush crazed California. when Eliza befriends Tao Chi¿en, a Chinese doctor, and finds herself in the California landscape, the journey becomes something altogether different, a quest to find and know herself amidst the obsession to find her lost lover."She had grown up clad in the impenetrable armor of good manners and conventions, trained from girlhood to please and serve, bound by corset, routines, social norms, and fear."despite the loaded cast of characters and long and irregular timeline, i found Daughter of Fortune to be vivid and engaging throughout. it is, at the core, a story of first love. Eliza¿s character is stubborn and at times, immature in her obsession with her lover, but this gives her plenty of room to develop and grow, which she indeed does. on a more holistic level, this is a book about being out of ones element, facing fears and desires and chasing dreams. each of the characters is in some way affected by this and Allende approaches this without distracting from the flow of the novel at all, which was very impressive. through the various characters, we see every imaginable clash of cultures ¿ from the English in Chile to the Chinese in America and more, crafting a tale of cultural appreciation and tolerance and ultimately, love and forgiveness.my favorite thing about this book was the writing style ¿ absolutely stunning, with heavy descriptive passages and emotional depth, though it may be a little too literary for some readers. Allende¿s characters are well developed and they effortlessly breathe life into the story, winding and weaving their histories into a collective story that is un-put-downable. spanning several decades and multiple continents, this is a book that is far from formulaic and definitely delivers a punch. if you enjoy language that you can chew on, you will probably enjoy this, but if heavy handed writing is not your thing, you may not enjoy this so much.i found it interesting that the book was wrought with heavy foreshadowing, which served to pull the story along. because of this, much of what happened was expected, but the ending came as a complete surprise to me. it was not a nice, tidy ending, but i don¿t think a book always needs that to be considered great, and i was satisfied. it definitely left room for interpretation and speculation and it had me pondering on it long after i¿d put the book down, which for me, wasn¿t a bad thing.though this was my first Allende book, it will definitely not be my last!
jayde1599 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well I am still thinking about this book. It had a slow beginning. Allende introduces many characters with detailed backstories, so the plot takes a while to get going. Set in Chile, the book is about Eliza Sommers found on the doorstep of siblings Rose and Jeremy Sommers as an infant. When Eliza is 16, she falls in love with Joaquin,a poor clerk and discovers she is pregnant, but not after Joaquin has run away to America to join the gold rush. Eliza chases after him accompanied by a Chinese doctor, Tao Chi'en.Once Eliza set off for California, the book really started to pick up pace and I began to enjoy it. However, it took about 230 pages of multiple-person back stories to lead up to that point. It wasn't that the backstories were bad, they just felt monotonous. Especially with how quickly the conclusion of the book went, I wish that the beginning was like that too. The only other Allende book that I have read is Zorro, which was also intricately written, so I guess that this is just her writing style. I think I liked Daughter of Fortune enough to try other works by Isabel Allende.
booksandwine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first Allende, and I can say with confidence, it definately will not be my last. Allende has masterfully weaved a story of fate and societal restrictions based on gender and class. Eliza Sommers is the adopted daughter of a victorian spinster and her brother, who live in 1840s Chile. The story spans Chile and California, and deals with the issues of class and gender. At it's core, I guess you could say this story is a romance, but really it's more layered and complex than that. Allende certainly has a talent for words, I was captivated from beginning to end, enchanted by Eliza Sommers and Tao Chi'en. This book is definately worth a read, especially for anyone interested in the station of women during the gold rush.
amandacb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm surprised Allende's Daughter of Fortune has an average star rating that is so low. Usually Allende's works are very slow-paced, but the slow pace works for this novel, as the characters are developed so thoroughly. I adored them all, even the despicable ones. It's a saga without the excessive length but with the full gamut of emotion and drama.
Awesomeness1 on LibraryThing 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.
lgbatmaz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Got the hardback edition, and I am keeping it as part of my permanent collection. Very good read overall, although since each chapter is on the long side and more cerebral than your average weekend reading, this one took weeks for me to finish.
katiekrug on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Beuatifully written/translated and very evocative of time and place. Enjoyed first half more than second and the ending felt somewhat rushed and abrupt. Would recommend it to those interested in 19th c. South America and the California Gold Rush.