DAUGHTER OF FORTUNE by Isabel Allende

DAUGHTER OF FORTUNE

KIRKUS REVIEW

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 Joaqu°n 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 Joaqu°n, having become a bandit, has been murdered, she and Tao Chi’en are free to explore their (so-far unexpressed) love for 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. (Book-of-the-Month Club dual main selection; author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1999
ISBN: 0-06-019491-X
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1999




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