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Daughter of Fortune (1998)

by Isabel Allende

Other authors: Jerry Bauer (Photographer), Anita Karl (Cartographer), Jim Kemp (Cartographer), Margaret Sayers Peden (Translator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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A Chilean woman searches for her lover in the goldfields of 1840s California. Arriving as a stowaway, Eliza finances her search with various jobs, including playing the piano in a brothel.
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English (147)  Spanish (9)  Italian (4)  Dutch (3)  German (3)  Lithuanian (2)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Catalan (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (173)
Showing 1-5 of 147 (next | show all)
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Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende is a historical fiction story following a young Chilean girl following the love of her life to California during the Gold Rush. Ms. Allende is a Chilean-American novelist, known for focusing on women’s experiences in Latin America.

Eliza Sommers was found in a soapbox on the steps of the Sommers family. Living in Valparaíso, Chile Miss Rose raised Eliza to be a lady. When the young Eliza meets the poor clerk Joaquín Andieta she falls in love.

Joaquín Andieta, however, has his sites on the gold in California and leaves Eliza to follow his dreams. Not soon after, Eliza runs away to look for Joaquín in the wide-open spaces, and very dangerous, California.

I enjoyed Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende very much, this is most likely the favorite book I read by the author – so far. The story is fascinating, great characters, and multi-layered.

As always, Miss Allende explores multiple themes throughout the narrative, focusing on women’s issues in Latin America. However, Miss Allende does not beat the reader over the head with what she wants to convey, she just tells a good story. in the book, we follow several women of different social, and cultural, stature. Each of them, however, is strong, independent, and daring rebelling against the social confines which they find obstructive.

The translation by renowned translator and professor Margaret Sayers Peden is flowing, while keeping to the original intent, I believe. Even though I read the book in English, I could certainly tell it was not only being told from a Latin perspective, but a Latin person.

The copy I had, however, had several typos and grammatical errors which bothered me. This was not the first edition (I read Oprah’s Book Club edition), nor is it by an independent author. It’s was a paperback published by a major publishing house and I cannot fathom how these mistakes weren’t caught.

That being said, this is historical fiction at its best. There are many interesting facts, cultures, and characters which enhance the whole experience.

I like these types of books where each character has their own story. The readers get introduced, briefly, to one character with a “more to come” type of tease several chapters later, however, we get a whole backstory on him/her and how the fit in the overall narrative.

I also didn’t realize that this novel is the first part of the Involuntary trilogy. I already ordered the second book, and will certainly read it, as well as the third in the series. ( )
  ZoharLaor | Dec 23, 2021 |
I really enjoy Isabel Allende, and know she's well versed in the tragic love story, but this has been a little different. I was hoping for a little more with the relationship, but it turned out just fine. I also liked a lot of her added info about America in that time period, and would be curious now to read more about it. ( )
  Annrosenzweig | Oct 15, 2021 |
Very good historical fiction literature set mostly during the gold rush in California. The coming-of-age story about a young Chilean girl that travels to San Francisco. It was interesting to read about the different cultures in San Fran in the mid-1800s. ( )
  Beth.Clarke | Oct 12, 2021 |
I do love a good historical fiction tale and Isabel Allende is a master of the genre so this was good read for me. I learned quite a lot about the California gold rush and even more about Chinese medicine which has been practised for quite a bit longer than western medicine.

Eliza Sommers was left as an infant on the doorstep of an English trader in Valparaiso Chile. Jeremy Sommers was a bachelor but lived with his sister Rose. Rose and Mama Fresia, the Chilean who supervised their household, raised Eliza between them. From Rose Eliza learned how to be a proper English lady but from Mama Fresia she learned about cooking and baking and healing with native herbs. When Eliza was just starting to notice men into her life came a poor clerk from Jeremy Sommers company. Joaquin Andieta was full of revolutionary ideas and had the heart of a poet. Of course Eliza fell madly in love with him. Secretly they met and made love. When the news of the 1849 California gold rush reached Valparaiso Joaquin saw this as his way to rise out of poverty so he could marry Eliza. Shortly after he left Eliza discovered she was pregnant. Confiding in Mama Fresia they found a way for Eliza to smuggle aboard a ship bound for California. The cook on the ship, Tao Chi'en, was persuaded to take her aboard and hide her in the hold. Tao Chi'en was not just a cook though; in Canton, China he had been trained as a physician, a zhong yi. When his aged mentor died Tao Chi'en left Canton for Hong Kong where he became quite renownes. He even had an English physician as a friend as so he learned about Western medicine as well. One evening he was shanghaied aboard a sailing ship on which he served for two years. When his contract ended he was in Valparaiso and so came into contact with Eliza. That was a fortuitous meeting for both of them. Eliza, especially, was lucky to have Tao Chi'en to look after her when she had a miscarriage and nearly died on board. They stayed together for a while in San Francisco but Eliza was determined to find her lover so she travelled to the gold fields. She saw the lure gold had on the thousands who had travelled to California but she was never interested herself in trying to find gold. She also managed to avoid the fate of most of the other women there at that time by dressing as a boy and claiming to be Joaquin's younger brother. Tales of a highwayman named Joaquin spread like wildfire and Eliza travelled all over during the summer months trying to find him to see if it was her Joaquin. Meanwhile Tao Chi'en practised medicine. When he came into contact with the young Chinese girls serving in the brothels he was so upset at their condition that he decided to save as many as he could. Eliza and Tao Chi'en maintained communication through the somewhat unstable mail system. Eventually Eliza joined Tao in San Francisco and helped him in his endeavours but she continued to pursue all leads to Joaquin. It is clear to the reader that Eliza and Tao have more than just friendly feelings for each other but they are both in thrall to the memory of their lost loves.

I've read five other books by Allende. Not all of them are historical fiction but I think those are the ones I like the best. According to Wikipedia she has written 21 books; I think I'll have to read some more. ( )
  gypsysmom | Oct 11, 2021 |
I'm a fan of Isabel Allende's work, but reading this felt like reading a couple of her other novels. ( )
  taimoirai | Jun 25, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isabel Allendeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bauer, JerryPhotographersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Karl, AnitaCartographersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kemp, JimCartographersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Peden, Margaret SayersTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anér-Melin, LenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brown, BlairNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juan, AnaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knowles, Barbara DuPreeDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kolanoske, LieselotteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lieberman, MarciaPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Werner, HoniCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.

--First Perennial edition, 2000
Svarbiausia yra tai, kaip gyveni šiame pasaulyje, o ne tai, kaip į jį atėjai; Sakė, jog žinios be išminties neturi vertės, ir nėra išminties be dvasingumo, o tikrasis dvasingumas visada reikalauja tarnauti kitiems; Mokytojo nuomone, blogai, kai žmogus nesugeba kurti eilių, bet nepalyginimai blogiau, kai kuria neišmanydamas.
It is what you do in this world that matters, not how you come into it.
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.
He had only a vague idea of her size and of a dark aureole of hair, but it would not be until their second meeting a few days later that he would sink into the perdition of her black eyes and the watery grace of her gestures.
Eliza's legs were trembling; she hadn't used them in two months, and she felt as landsick as she had before at sea, but the man's clothing gave her an unfamiliar freedom; she had never felt so invisible.
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A Chilean woman searches for her lover in the goldfields of 1840s California. Arriving as a stowaway, Eliza finances her search with various jobs, including playing the piano in a brothel.

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