The international No.1 bestselling novelist returns to her best form with this magnificent sweeping tale. Isabel Allende's best novel since The House of the Spirits. Set in Anglophile Chile and goldrush California during the middle years of the nineteenth century, this magnificent romance tells the story of English foundling Eliza Sommers who grows up in the bustling entrepot of Valparaiso. Eliza is a spirited, sparky and ambitious romantic who becomes embroiled in a forbidden love affair with the charismatic but capricious Joaquin Andieta. When he disappears suddenly for California, and the promise of riches that rumours of gold strikes have brought him, she can but follow after him...
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)
Number Of Pages: 416
Published: 7th August 2000
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 13.0 x 2.7
Weight (kg): 0.28