Reviews for Daughter of Fortune

by Isabel Allende

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

The latest novel by one of the most internationally appreciated writers draws on two of the environments about which Allende knows much: Chile, her native land, and California, where she currently resides. Allende proves she has learned history well and that she knows characters instinctively as she reaches back into both Chile's and California's past to construct a story of family conflict, romantic love, and true adventure, all these threads spun into a fine, even beautiful, narrative of admirable force. Her tale begins in an intriguing milieu: that of the British colony in the Chilean city of Valparaiso (for which, of course, Allende has a wonderful feel) at the middle of the nineteenth century. A year and a half after Rose and Jeremy Sommers, sister and brother (the latter in the import-export business), arrived at the Chilean port city, they took in an orphan left at their doorstep; and little Eliza is raised with privilege, with the hopes of her making a smart marriage. But, as one might have predicted, Eliza falls for a young man much lower on the social scale than she; and when he goes popping off to California to partake of the gold rush there, Eliza, left pregnant, decides to steal away to follow him. En route she meets her soulmate, a Chinese herbalist called Tao Chi'en; and learning from both his and her own experiences in the California goldfields, Eliza grows up quickly, gaining an incredible reserve of strength and character. --Brad Hooper


Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Allende expands her geographical boundaries in this sprawling, engrossing historical novel flavored by four culturesÄEnglish, Chilean, Chinese and AmericanÄand set during the 1849 California Gold Rush. The alluring tale begins in Valpara¡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¡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 storyÄrichly textured and expansively toldÄbegins 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 Joaqu¡n (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 Valpara¡so 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. Major ad/promo; BOMC dual main selection; 11-city author tour. (Oct.) FYI: This book will also be released in a HarperLibros Spanish edition, Hija del la Fortuna (ISBN 0-06-019492-8). Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Allende expands her geographical boundaries in this sprawling, engrossing historical novel flavored by four culturesÄEnglish, Chilean, Chinese and AmericanÄand set during the 1849 California Gold Rush. The alluring tale begins in Valpara¡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¡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 storyÄrichly textured and expansively toldÄbegins 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 Joaqu¡n (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 Valpara¡so 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. Major ad/promo; BOMC dual main selection; 11-city author tour. (Oct.) FYI: This book will also be released in a HarperLibros Spanish edition, Hija del la Fortuna (ISBN 0-06-019492-8). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

The latest novel by one of the most internationally appreciated writers draws on two of the environments about which Allende knows much: Chile, her native land, and California, where she currently resides. Allende proves she has learned history well and that she knows characters instinctively as she reaches back into both Chile's and California's past to construct a story of family conflict, romantic love, and true adventure, all these threads spun into a fine, even beautiful, narrative of admirable force. Her tale begins in an intriguing milieu: that of the British colony in the Chilean city of Valparaiso (for which, of course, Allende has a wonderful feel) at the middle of the nineteenth century. A year and a half after Rose and Jeremy Sommers, sister and brother (the latter in the import-export business), arrived at the Chilean port city, they took in an orphan left at their doorstep; and little Eliza is raised with privilege, with the hopes of her making a smart marriage. But, as one might have predicted, Eliza falls for a young man much lower on the social scale than she; and when he goes popping off to California to partake of the gold rush there, Eliza, left pregnant, decides to steal away to follow him. En route she meets her soulmate, a Chinese herbalist called Tao Chi'en; and learning from both his and her own experiences in the California goldfields, Eliza grows up quickly, gaining an incredible reserve of strength and character. --Brad Hooper


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Allende expands her geographical boundaries in this sprawling, engrossing historical novel flavored by four culturesÄEnglish, Chilean, Chinese and AmericanÄand set during the 1849 California Gold Rush. The alluring tale begins in Valpara¡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¡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 storyÄrichly textured and expansively toldÄbegins 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 Joaqu¡n (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 Valpara¡so 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. Major ad/promo; BOMC dual main selection; 11-city author tour. (Oct.) FYI: This book will also be released in a HarperLibros Spanish edition, Hija del la Fortuna (ISBN 0-06-019492-8). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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