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
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