Book Review – Daughter of Fortune & Bonus Questions for Your Book Club
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende – Historical Fiction
About the Author
Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel Allende is the author of eight novels, including, Zorro, Portrait in Sepia, and Daughter of Fortune. She has also written a collection of stories, three memoirs, including My Invented Country and Paula; and a trilogy of Children’s novels. Her books have been translated into more than twenty-seven languages and have become bestsellers across the continents. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Aerts and Letters. Isabel Allende lives in California.
The Synopsis of the Book
Orphaned at birth, Eliza Sommers is raised in the British colony of Valparaiso, Chile, by the well-intentioned Victorian spinster Miss Rose and her more rigid brother Jeremy. Just as she meets and falls in love with the wildly inappropriate Joaquin Andieta, a lowly clerk who works for Jeremy, gold is discovered in the hills of northern California. By 1849, Chileans of every stripe have fallen prey to feverish dreams of wealth. Joaquin takes off for San Francisco to seek his fortune, and Eliza, pregnant with his child, decides to follow him.
So begins Isabel Allende’s enchanting novel, Daughter Of Fortune, her most ambitious work of fiction yet. As we follow her spirited heroine on a perilous journey north in the hold of a ship to the rough-and-tumble world of San-Francisco and northern California, we enter a world whose newly arrived inhabitants are driven mad by gold fever. A society of single men and prostitutes among whom Eliz moves- with the help of her good friend and savior, The Chinese doctor Tao Chien – California opens the door to a new life of freedom and independence for the young Chilean.
Her search for the elusive Joaquin gradually turns into another kind of journey that transforms her over time, and what began as a new search for love ends up as the conquest of personal freedom. By the time she finally hears news of him, Eliza must decide who her true love really is.
This is a wonderful well-written historical fiction that begins in the British community of Chili, a culture I knew nothing about until I read this book. Set in the mid-1800’s we are taken back to a time where women are subjected to disturbing means in order to survive. Our discussion revolved around the strong women characters, the challenges they had to face and the life-threatening diseases they had to overcome.
Eliza, a young woman who was abandoned at birth and raised by a spinster named Rose and her brother Jeremy, enters womanhood and finds what she believes to be her true love. Pregnant with his child, she risks her life to follow him to San Francisco where he hopes to strike it rich by gold mining. But her journey is not easy and death is near.
This book had so many interesting facts about many different cultures which enhanced the story immensely. It was not only a great historical romance but a good history lesson too.
Having lived in the gold rush town of Sonora, I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the book and loved learning many aspects of the gold rush era that took place in California.
There were a lot of facts to process in the book. The chapters were long and the book is almost four hundred pages. For me, it took a while to read, mainly because It was a book I could easily put down and return to at a later time. Others in the group felt the same way. We all felt the ending was abrupt and left some unanswered questions, which was disappointing after investing so much time into the book.
Our Overall Rating
COVER DESIGN – 4 STARS – The cover is fitting for the book. Immediately from the image of the woman, you know it’s historical fiction.
CHARACTERIZATION – 5 STARS – Excellent character development with plenty of backgrounds given.
STORY & PLOT 4 STARS– Not a nail-biting plot, but an interesting one but the ending did fall short.
OVERALL RATING – 4 STARS – Overall we gave this book 4 stars and would recommend it especially if you enjoy historical fiction.
Questions to ask at your book club
Click on the link below for questions to ask at your book club.
Book Review and Bonus Book Club Questions – The Mermaid Chair
As many of you know, I run the book club at our local library. We just finished reading The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. We had quite a discussion about this book. The author is new to all of us and at the end of our review, you will find questions to ask at your own book club.
About The Author
Sue Monk Kidd’s first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, spent more than one hundred weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list, has sold nearly six million copies, and was chosen as the 2004 BookSense Paperback book of the Year and Good Morning America’s “Read This!” Book Club pick. It was adapted into an award-winning movie in 2008.
Her second novel, The Mermaid Chair, a #1 New York Times Bestseller, won the 2005 Quil Book Award for Best General Fiction and was adapted into a television movie. Her novels have been published in more than thirty countries. She is also the author of several acclaimed memoirs and the recipient of many awards, including a Poets & Writers Award. She lives near Charleston, South Carolina.
The Synopsis of The Mermaid Chair
Inside the church of a Benedictine monastery on Egret Island, just off the coast of South Carolina, resides a beautiful and mysterious chair ornately carved with mermaids and dedicated to a saint who, legend claims, was a mermaid before her conversion.
When Jessie Sullivan is summoned home to the island to cope with her eccentric mother’s seemingly inexplicable behavior, she is living a conventional life with her husband, Hugh, a life “molded tot he smallest space possible.” Jessie loves Hugh, but once on the island, she finds herself drawn to Brother Thomas, a monk about to take his final vows.
Amid a rich community of unforgettable island women and the exotic beauty of marshlands, tidal creeks, and majestic egrets, Jessie grapples with the tension of desire and the struggle to deny it, with a freedom that feels overwhelmingly right and the immutable force of home and marriage.
Is the power of the mermaid chair only a myth? Or will it alter the course of Jessie’s life? What happens will unlock the roots of her mother’s tormented past, but most of all, it will allow Jessie to come to discover selfhood and a place of belongings as she explores the thin line between the spiritual and the erotic.
Jessie the main character, seems to be going through a mid-life crisis and begins to question her marriage to Huge after twenty years. At the same time her mother Nellie is having mental-health issues. Jessie travels alone to tend to her mother’s needs who has lived alone since the death of Jessie father when Jessie was only six and had always thought it was her fault.
While visiting her mother, Jessie has an affair with a monk called Witt and is ready to leave her husband. The speed at which she came to this decision, seemed unrealistic and was when our dislike for her began. (I believe it was after their first encounter).
The story then unfolds many truths, some of which are shocking. Surprisingly we all had different opinions about the book. One member absolutely loved everything about the book, from the author’s style of writing, the main character Jessie, whom she related to and in some way, Jessie reminded her of herself.
A couple of us didn’t like Jessie or the way she treated her husband and left us feeling only anger toward her. We asked ourselves, Why didn’t she talk to her husband about how she was feeling? A big bombshell was dropped in the story about her father’s death that none of us were expecting and also created more feeling of anger with some of the other characters.
We all felt sorry for Jessie’s husband, Huge because of the way he was treated by Jessie. (Well I know I did.) Huge seemed like a really nice guy but toward the end of the book, he disappointed a majority of us.
Overall it was a good story with some unexpected twists. Parts of it dragged on and became too descriptive for some of us, to the point where we had to backtrack because we had forgotten what the author was describing. This happened numerous times throughout the book and prevented us from keeping engaged with the story.
Our Overall Rating
COVER DESIGN – 5 STARS – It’s an intriguing eye-catching cover that entices you to pick up the book and read more.
CHARACTERIZATION – 3 STARS – We disliked the main character and was disappointed with Huge. Some of their actions seemed unrealistic and rushed.
STORY & PLOT 4 STARS– The storyline was good. At times it dragged on and wasn’t engaging.
OVERALL RATING – 4 STARS – Overall we gave this book 4 stars
Questions to ask at your book club
1. How does a woman like Jessie become “molded to the smallest space possible”? What signs might appear in her life? What did Jessie mean when she said part of the problem was her chronic inability to astonish herself?
2. Jessie comes to believe that an essential problem in her marriage is not that she and Hugh have grown apart, but that they have grown “too much together.” What do you think she means by that? How important is it for Jessie to find her “solitude of being”? How does a woman balance apartness and togetherness in a relationship?
3. How would you describe Nelle before and after her husband’s death? What is your interpretation of the mysterious factors that led her to cut off her finger? What do her fingers symbolize? How does the myth of Sedna—the Inuit mermaid whose severed fingers became the first sea creatures—shed light on Nelle’s state of mind?
4. Jessie feels that she has found a soul mate in Whit. Do you find this word inviting or repellent? When we speak of looking for a soul mate, what do we mean? Is there really such a thing?
5. Why do you think Whit came to the monastery? Would you describe him as having a crisis of faith? In what ways does he vacillate between falling into life and transcending it? What do you think of his decision at the end about whether to leave or to stay?
6. Islands are often places of personal trial and distillation of self—such as Shakespeare’s The Tempest or Golding’s Lord of the Flies. What are the emotional islands upon which each character is stranded? What is the significance of the Egret Island setting? How does each character finally escape the island of his or her making? What does the trial on the enchanted island reveal about each character?
7. St. Senara only becomes a saint once an abbot hides her fish tail and prohibits her from returning to the sea. On one hand, she has lost her wild nature and freedom to swim away, but on the other hand, she has gained sainthood among the humans she has grown to love.
What is the significance of this tale in Jessie’s life? When she leaves her husband to return to Egret Island, is she the wild mermaid or the stranded saint? How does the duality of the mermaid and the saint play out in women’s lives? Can a woman contain both? Why do you think mystics and poets have drawn comparisons between sensual delight and godly delight?
8. The mermaid chair is a central image in the novel. What does it symbolize? What role does it play in the novel? In Jessie’s life? In her father’s? How does it become a place of death and rebirth for both of them, literally and figuratively?
9. How would you describe Jessie’s relationship with her father? How did having an absent father affect her? How did it affect her relationship with Hugh? What do you think Kidd was suggesting, by the image of the Whirley girl?
10. Jessie breaks away from creating her tiny art boxes and begins to paint, finding her true gift. Why is she unable to take up her authentic creative life before this? What role do her paintings play in her metamorphosis? How does Jessie’s series of paintings of diving women reflect her own experience? What role does the motif of diving play in the novel?
11. The novel celebrates the hallowed bonds of women and suggests how a true community of women can become a maternal circle that nurtures a woman toward self-realization and helps her to give birth to a new life. How do Kat, Hepzibah, and even Benne play a role in Jessie’s transformation? What has been the importance of female communities in your own life?
12. In perhaps the most moving and cathartic moment in the novel, Jessie goes to Bone Yard beach and speaks vows of commitment to herself—“’Jessie. I take you, Jessie…for better or worse…to love and to cherish.’” What does it mean to make a “marriage” to your self? Paradoxically, Jessie discovered that belonging to herself allowed her to belong more truly to Hugh. Does an inviolate commitment to oneself enhance one’s commitment to a relationship?
13. In your mind, was Jessie’s father’s death a sin? Jessie isn’t sure if choosing to end one’s life in order to spare oneself and one’s family extreme suffering was horning in on God’s territory and usurping “the terrifying power to say when,” or whether it was usurping God’s deep heart by laying down one’s life as a sacrifice. What do you think?
14. The Mermaid Chair suggests that a love affair may be a common response to a marriage that has lost its way, but that in the end, it is not a solution. In what way do you think the novel is a cautionary tale? Why do you think Jessie is unable to heed the warnings from Kat and Hepzibah? How could Jessie have found awakening without betraying her marriage?
15. Upon her return home, Jessie says, “There would be no grand absolution, only forgiveness meted out in these precious sips. It would well up from Hugh’s heart in spoonfuls and he would feed it to me. And it would be enough.” Why does Jessie return to Hugh? Why is Hugh able to accept her back into his life? How has their relationship changed since she left for Egret Island? How has Jessie changed?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)
Other Articles You May Enjoy
New Reviews for Reckless Beginnings Since My Last Blog
IThis story was easy to read and involved enough to keep my interest. It didn’t take me long to read and I had a hard time putting it down. It’s not deep but it sure isn’t a cozy. It’s a somewhat different storyline with both good and bad characters. Each character has his or her own personalities and even though there are several, I never had one problem keeping them separate. This is a very important aspect for me. Having to turn back to figure out “who is who” is a great irritation to me. I found none of that here.
So, in conclusion…a good storyline, interesting characters, and a very interesting read. Not much more you can ask than that is there? – – Bookaholic
AMAZING STORY. So well written, I could not put it down. I CANNOT WAIT FOR BOOK 2… I sometimes read so fast, I can skim over words.. not this book. I hung on to every single line.. so well written, such good detail, I felt and knew each character and felt each feeling.. was just great.. thank you! Sad I am divine with it! So glad Judy hit him with the poker! – Jennifer Dobos-bubno
I loved this story, it was amazing!! It totally captured me from page 1. After reading the first few chapters I was addicted and couldn’t put the book down. I did nothing for the rest of the day but read even though I had a long list of stuff to get done. Reckless Beginnings by Tina Hogan Grant is a well-written story based on the author’s life. This is such a touching story about surviving. I personally find her work amazing in every way. Her writing is so good. The book is exceptionally well written and beautiful. The characters are all well developed and relatable. you can feel all their emotions and they grow beautifully as the story progresses. – Stewart’s Book reviews
Our book club just finished reading THE WHOLE TOWN’S TALKING by FANNIE FLAGG and as always I like to share our thoughts and review with you.
About the author
Fannie Flagg began writing and producing television specials at age nineteen and went on to distinguish herself as an actress and writer in television, films and the theater. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling Daisy Fay and The Miracle Man, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (which was produced by Universal Pictures as Fried Green Tomatoes). Welcome to the World, Baby Girl, and Standing in the Rainbow. Flagg’s script for Fried Green Tomatoes was nominated for both the Academy and Writer’s Guild of America Awards and won the highly regarded Scripters Award. Flagg lives in California and in Alabama.
The Synopsis of THE WHOLE TOWN’S TALKING
Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening at the cemetery. Still Meadows, as it’s called, is anything but still. The Whole Town’s Talking, tells the story of Lordor Nordstrom, his Swedish mail-order bride, Katrina, and their neighbors and descendants as they live, love, die and carry on in mysterious and surprising ways.
Lordor Nordstrom created, in his wisdom, not only a lively town and a prosperous legacy for himself but also a beautiful final resting place for his family, friends, and neighbors yet to come. “Resting Place” turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, however. Odd things begin to happen, and it starts the whole town talking.
With her wild imagination, great storytelling, and deep understanding of folly and the human heart, the beloved Fannie Flagg tells an unforgettable story of life, afterlife, and the remarkable goings-on of ordinary people. In The Whole Town’s Talking, she reminds us that community is vital, life is a gift, and love never dies.
This is the first time any of us had read anything by this author. No one knew what to expect. We had decided to pick a light-hearted book because the last two were somewhat depressing. This book certainly fit the bill. It’s a quick read and would make a perfect book to take to the beach. We all agreed that it was a cute story and was probably how most people hoped life would be after death.
At times the story was humorous and took us on a trip down memory lane, pointing out certain nostalgic events. The book began well with the founding fathers and we felt like we were getting to know them but as soon as we did, they passed away and the book moved on to the next generation. After that, the book began to go downhill. There was just too much crammed into the story. As soon as we began to get to know a new character, Poof, they died. It was really hard to keep track of them and because of that, we had a hard time connecting with the story. We also felt what happened to the town, in the end, was depressing and quite unexpected. Overall we were somewhat disappointed with this book.
Our Overall Rating
COVER DESIGN – 5 STARS – We all agreed the cover was great with eye-catching colors and a theme that was fitting for the storyline.
CHARACTERIZATION – 3 STARS – Too many characters to keep track of and were short-lived in the book, prevented us from connecting with the characters or story.
STORY & PLOT 3 STARS– It was a cute idea for a story but fell short to engage us or get us excited.
OVERALL RATING – 3 STARS – After having high hopes for this book, we left feeling somewhat disappointed. It was just okay.
Questions to ask at your book club
1- Lordor met his wife Katrina by placing an ad for a mail-order bride. Did this surprise you and does it remind you of online dating?
2 – Why do you think Lordor and Katrina’s marriage was so successful? What did they do that many couples overlook?
3 – The book chronicles the history of one small town in America, beginning in 1889 and ending in 2021. Do you see any similarities between Elmwood Springs and the town you or your parents grew up in? If so, what are they?
4 – Do you know of any towns that have simply turned into ghost towns? Why do you think the towns didn’t make it. Did you live in any of the towns you mentioned?
5 – Do you believe in life after death? How do you vision it?
6 – Were there any particular characters you could relate to? If yes, explain why.
7 – The book spans over many decades. Which is your favorite era and why is it? What do you remember the most about that time?
Buy the Book From Amazon
BUY RECKLESS BEGINNINGS HERE
RECKLESS BEGINNINGS is currently available in paperback only. The Kindle/ebook edition will be available in about six weeks.
Ordering the book is easy from any of these fine online retailers.
I’m pleased to have Goddess Fish Promotions handle the virtual tour for my book Reckless Beginnings. Because of the tour, the book is available NOW! through Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Follow the links at the bottom of the page to order. (Note UK: you can place an order now but the item will not be shipped immediately.
Yes! Reckless Beginnings is available now! Tell all your friends!
The tour will run from October 1st – October 26th, 2018. Making stops at twenty-six websites. Prewritten guest blogs and interviews, along with promo posts, and reviews will be featured on each blog post.
Follow the Tour and Enter the Giveaways
Prizes for the tour are as follows:
• One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.
• One randomly chosen host will receive a $25 Amazon/BN.com gift card.
You have a chance of winning the $ 50.00. prize by simply following the tour each day and entering the giveaway on each stop. That’s twenty-six chances of winning! Be sure to share with your friends
Audrey J. Cole is a registered nurse and a writer of thrillers set in Seattle. After living in Australia for the last five years, Audrey now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children.
My Bookclub’s Review – The Rooster Bar – by John Grisham
The book club I belong to at our local branch library has just finished reading The Rooster Bar by John Grisham. We discussed everything from the cover, the plot, characters and also compared it to his other books. I’ve posted our review along with questions you may want to ask at your own book club.
Interview and Book Review With Author Debralynn Fein – Author of Aaron and Me, Works in Progress
I had the pleasure of reading Fein’s latest novel. Below you will find my honest review and an interview with the author. The interview is entirely in the author’s own words.
About the Author
(Copied from the author’s page.) I’ve been writing professionally since 2002. My articles and stories have appeared in The Wee Ones Magazine, and Hackwriters.Com, run from Falmouth College of Arts. I also published a short story in the Greenwich Village Literary Review, entitled Family Pictures and articles in Early Childhood Examiner. I attended Stony Brook University in 1978 and 1979 with a major in English Literature, and, also earned a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Queens College, City University of New York, in 1987. I have a fresh voice, readers will enjoy. Continue reading “Interview and Book Review With Author Debralynn Fein”→
Author’s Corner – Interview & Book Review with Author Debbie A. McClure
It was an absolute pleasure to read Debbie A. McClure’s book The King’s Consort – The Louise Rasmussen Story. Below you will find my honest review and the interview with Debbie which is entirely in her own words.
About the Author
Copied from Author’s page – Debbie McClure Lives in London. Ontario, Canada with her husband and is the author of paranormal romance and historical fiction novels. a contributor to several international non-fiction anthologies, a motivational speaker and writing workshop host/facilitator. In addition, she frequently interviews other writers from around the globe for a popular third-party blog. Continue reading “Interview & Book Review with Author Debbie A. McClure”→
Mabby the Squirrel’s Guide to Flying by Matthew Claybrook
Up for review, this week is Mabby the Squirrel’s Guide to Flying by Matthew Claybrook. After reading the book I had the pleasure of interviewing Matthew and writing an honest review. The entirety of the interview is in Matthew’s own words.
About the Author
(Copied from author’s page) Matthew Claybrook is proudly married way over his head. Matthew was a dedicated underachiever in school. After that, he joined the U.S Navy, traveled the world a little bit and worked as a volunteer minister. After the services, he worked briefly as a guitar maker and soon entered college to study theology. Then while in college and at the behest of his gorgeous girlfriend ( now wife), he finally turned to his childhood passion; writing. He self-published his first threat to the public, The Palmyra Chronicles in 2013. Now he maintains his blog matthewclaybrook.com
Matthew is working on several new projects to include, “The Voyage of Gethsarade” a prequel to Mabby. Currently, Matthew is undertaking his Master of Divinity at Oklahoma Graduate School of Theology. He can be found at facebook.com/mgclaybrooktwitter.com@mgclaybrook.
The Synopsis of Mabby the Squirrel’s Handbook to Flying
There are only a few books representing Aspergers and learning disabilities in young people, especially stories that illustrate Asperger’s symptoms. Mabby The Squirrel’s Guide to Flying is an inspiring and encouraging story about high functioning autism in the metaphor of a city of flying squirrels, for the high functioning autistic child and parent, by an Aspie who found a way. Because it’s about time.
Reality Wedding is the third book in a reality series by Laura Heffernan. I have not read book one – America’s Next Reality Star or book two Sweet Reality. However, after reading the last book in the series I plan on reading the others so I have a full scope of the story.
After reading the novel I had the pleasure of interviewing Laura Heffernan and write an honest review of her book. All her answers are in her own words.
About the Author
(Copied from author’s page) Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off. When not watching total strangers get married, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys board games, travel, board games, baking, and board games. She lives in the Northeast with her husband and two furry beasts.