Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

Overall rating: ★★★★
Eliza Sommers came to Rose Sommers’ life under questionable circumstances. Eliza’s origins did not seem to weight as much as Rose would have thought… as soon as she saw the baby in the box wrapped in a man’s sweater, Rose knew her life would change forever. Rose would love and educate Eliza like her own daughter. Nobody in the house of Valparaiso was allowed to question or to tell Eliza how she came to live in the Sommers’ house with Rose and her brother Jeremy.
Eliza grew up between the refined manners of Rose and the smells of Mama Fresia’s (her nanny and cook) kitchen. Eliza developed a keen sense of smell that would preserve her from certain occupations later on in her life. When Eliza turned 16 years old, she met the man that would make her world come upside down. She knew it the minute she smelled him. That man would forever change her destiny and make her understand that things could only be that way.
Daughter of Fortune is the first book of an unusual trilogy. It is the first book but it was not the first one written by Isabel Allende. It seems that the trilogy happened almost by accident in a circle that came back to where Ms. Allende started her career as a novelist. This is the second time I read this book; my goal is to read all three back to back to have the complete story with a good understanding of the families and their relationships.
Daughter of Fortune starts in the beautiful city of Valparaiso (Chile) in the year 1843. The characters’ adventures, fortunes, and misfortunes take us to California during the gold rush – San Francisco, Sacramento, and other smaller cities –, to China, briefly to England, and extensively aboard different ships that navigated the route between Valparaiso and California, New York, and Europe. 
The story is so beautifully written and extraordinary that it would be almost impossible not to fall in love with Rose, Eliza, Tao Chi’en, and some other characters. Others, like Agustin del Valle, would be more difficult to love… but their presence would be fully felt. Daughter of Fortune is a great novel of love, resilience, entrepreneurship, honor, family, and some unusual subjects for the time like female power, interracial relations, and questioning the truth about God and the Catholic church. 
The book is available in paperback.  
Originality: ★★★★
Beauty and use of language: ★★★★

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