Thursday, March 18, 2010

12. DAUGHTER OF FORTUNE - Isabel Allende

I think I found a new favorite author. And, dear readers, if you recommended this book, step forth into my circle of adoration.

Beginning in Chile, a newborn baby is found at the back door of a moderately wealthy family. Rose insists on adopting the child into the family, and Eliza Sommers life begins. As a child, she is split between the "how to be a lady" lessons from Rose and the cooking and healing recipes of her nana, a native Chilean Indian.

As she grows up, she falls in love with Joaquin. Rose disapproves of the match, but Eliza is so secretive and sneaky that she is never caught with the young man. However, the gold fever of 1848-49 California reaches the coast of Chile, and Joaquin catches the illness along with half of the world. Of course, Eliza follows him, and I will not summarize any more details because you must enjoy this epic work yourselves.

Allende has such an enormous grasp of historical events, places, and people, and she blends them seamlessly into her narrative. A character in one chapter will have significance in a much later chapter, a small image will have tremendous meaning. This is the type of writing that I can embrace.

Small quibble - it's an Oprah book, and y'all know how I feel about that. However, if any of her other books are half as good as this one, I will read them. Suggestions?

4.75 out of 5.0 Picante Lemons.


Jenny said...

I once read City of the Beasts, which was very good, but for some reason I never followed up on it by reading more.

I should, you have given me the inspiration!

(Particularly after looking up her Wikipedia article which just makes her sound wholly awesome.)

Jen K said...

I had the same reaction as you after reading my first novel by Isabel Allende (might have been this one, actually). I also enjoyed Ines of My Soul and loved The House of Spirits. I have noticed that after a few of her novels, there are definitely certain stock characters that tend to reappear in different guises over and over again. Also, Portrait in Sepia wasn't a great novel but she used it to connect Daughter of Fortune and The House of Spirits and basically turn them into a trilogy, so if you want to see what happens to the characters, it's not a waste of time - it's just not quite as good as the other two, and you should definitely read it last of those three.

Paolo Jose said...

I was enchanted by Allende when I was younger, but the magic's kind of at a low point these past few years. I hate to think of it as my Allende phase, haha.

One of my favorite books by her is The Stories of Eva Luna, which are, well, the stories of Eva Luna, a Scheherazade-ish character of sorts. :) It was a book that was less about Allende's storytelling; these are stories by a character in one of her books. And that detachment appealed to me.

- Sasha
Sasha & The Silverfish

Pam Walter said...

I agree...a wonderful read. If you like historical fiction, I would recommend The Madonnas of Leninrad by Debra Dean.

Zarina said...

Well, let's see. Allende is one of my most favorite authors. I've read: Aprhodite (memoir), Paula (excellent memoir), Of Love and Shadows (on my top ten), Eva Luna (ok fiction), and House of the Spirits (really good fiction). I think that you should try House of the Spirits. It's were most people start off. And, there's a movie based on it starring Meryl Streep & a bunch of other famous Hollywood types.

Zarina said...

I meant "where" not "were". Sorry.

Kristin Dodge said...

Excellent! More recommended books... thanks everyone! With the stacks on my shelves and a four page Word document, I may have to make this my 2011 goal, too.

Stefania said...

I agree with Zarina: you should start with "House of the Spirits", it's one of my favourite books. I prefer Allende's first books to her later ones. My second favourite is "Of Love and Shadows".

Jason said...

A lot of people accuse House of Spirits of being a ripoff of Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. There's no doubt that there's influence going on there, but Allende's has more to it than just a rehash--for one thing, there's more than one narrative style in the book. I'd recommend HOS.

Stefania said...

True that House of Spirits has a lot in common with Marquez's book, but a lot of people who hate Marquez fell in love with Allende's book.

Kristin Dodge said...

I've read One Hundred Years of Solitude, so this will be a good match.

Guess what I am holding in my hands? An uncorrected proof of Isabel Allende's Island Beneath the Sea, her next book (to be released in May). Sigh.

No sleep next week... and I'll let you know the review soon!