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ISBN: 9780006552321


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Daughter of Fortune

by Isabel Allende , Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden

Category: Fiction / General
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 7 August 2000
Number of pages: 416

A magnificent sweeping tale from the international bestselling author of 'The House of the Spirits'.

Nothing is as straightforward as it seems in Allende's new novel, set in Chile during the heady days of the California gold rush. Was Eliza, our foundling heroine, discovered in a lowly soap crate or was she, as her British adoptive mother Rose insists, left in a batiste basket, swathed in mink, pinned with a note claiming that she was illegitimate but of good stock? Does the half-breed girl belong in the circumscribed drawing rooms of expatriate colonial society or in the dirty, magical kitchens of their Indian servant Mama Fresia? When 16-year-old Eliza falls passionately in love and becomes pregnant by an impoverished young student who has set off to seek his fortune, she flees everything familiar and puts herself in the hand of Tao Chi'en, a herbalist cum ship's cook, who agrees to help her track her lover to California. But when they arrive after a harrowing journey, an even greater mystery awaits Eliza: is her beloved Joaquin Andieta still faithful to her? Or has he become the look-alike brigand murderer Joaquin Murieta? Allende's great gift, exhibited so gracefully in this deft novel, lies in allowing her characters to try on and inhabit different selves. Eliza can flee Chile a pampered, headstrong child, then search for her lover dressed as a deaf-mute or an effeminate Chilean cowboy, and ultimately find love with a Chinese doctor who has learned to balance the rigid philosophy of his Eastern master and the pragmatic medicine of the wild West. Allende shows us that where cultures collide in the lawless crucible of California, there might old selves and old desired be jettisoned, there might new unexpected families be formed. In the end, love - but rarely the love any character thought to seek - is all that matters. This is a brilliant evocation of a time and place, peopled with richly drawn, memorable characters. Published five years after Allende's last novel, for her legion of fans Daughter of Fortune will have been well worth the wait. Review by SHERI HOLMAN Editor's note: Sheri Holman is the author of The Dress Lodger (Kirkus UK)

What the papers say:
'As broad ranging and lyrical as "The House of the Spirits."' Daily Telegraph 'A masterpiece of historical fiction.' New York Times 'An extravagant tale by a gifted storyteller whose spell brings to life the 19th century world...Entertaining and well paced...compelling.' Los Angeles Times 'It is packed with incident, rushing from one highly coloured scene to the next ... If you like your passions grand and your views panoramic, then "Daughter of Fortune" will be'll find it hard not to be beguiled by the charm and ingenuity of Allende's storytelling.' The Times

Author's Biography:
Isabel Allende was born in 1942, and is the niece of Salvador Allende, who went on to become famous as the elected President of Chile deposed in a CIA-backed coup. She worked as a journalist, playwright and children's writer in Chile until 1974 and then in Venezuela until 1984. Her first novel for adults, 'The House of the Spirits', was published in Spanish in 1982, beginning life as a letter to her dying grandfather. It was an international sensation, and ever since all her books have been acclaimed and adored in numberless translations worldwide.

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