Daughter of Fortune

Isabel Allende, Author, Margaret Sayers Peden, Translator HarperCollins Publishers $26 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-019491-8
Allende expands her geographical boundaries in this sprawling, engrossing historical novel flavored by four cultures--English, Chilean, Chinese and American--and set during the 1849 California Gold Rush. The alluring tale begins in Valpara so, Chile, with young Eliza Sommers, who was left as a baby on the doorstep of wealthy British importers Miss Rose Sommers and her prim brother, Jeremy. Now a 16-year-old, and newly pregnant, Eliza decides to follow her lover, fiery clerk Joaqu n Andieta, when he leaves for California to make his fortune in the gold rush. Enlisting the unlikely aid of Tao Chi'en, a Chinese shipboard cook, she stows away on a ship bound for San Francisco. Tao Chi'en's own story--richly textured and expansively told--begins when he is born into a peasant family and sold into slavery, where it is his good fortune to be trained as a master of acupuncture. Years later, while tending to a sailor in colonial Hong Kong, he is shanghaied and forced into service at sea. During the voyage with Eliza, Tao nurses her through a miscarriage. When they disembark, Eliza is disguised as a boy, and she spends the next four years in male attire so she may travel freely and safely. Eliza's search for Joaqu n (rumored to have become an outlaw) is disappointing, but through an eye-opening stint as a pianist in a traveling brothel and through her charged friendship with Tao, now a sought-after healer and champion of enslaved Chinese prostitutes, Eliza finds freedom, fulfillment and maturity. Effortlessly weaving in historical background, Allende (House of the Spirits; Paula) evokes in pungent prose the great melting pot of early California and the colorful societies of Valpara so and Canton. A gallery of secondary characters, developed early on, prove pivotal to the plot. In a book of this scope, the narrative is inevitably top-heavy in spots, and the plot wears thin toward the end, but this is storytelling at its most seductive, a brash historical adventure. Major ad/promo; BOMC dual main selection; 11-city author tour. (Oct.) FYI: This book will also be released in a HarperLibros Spanish edition, Hija del la Fortuna (ISBN 0-06-019492-8).
Reviewed on: 10/04/1999
Release date: 10/01/1999
Show other formats
FORMATS
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-06-093275-6
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-694-52251-4
Paperback - 399 pages - 978-0-00-655232-1
Prebound-Other - 399 pages - 978-0-613-27787-7
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-20501-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 464 pages - 978-0-380-82101-3
Compact Disc - 978-0-06-083387-9
Prebound-Sewn - 432 pages - 978-1-4177-5594-3
Paperback - 399 pages - 978-0-06-156533-5
Compact Disc - 978-0-06-157557-0
Paperback - 399 pages - 978-0-06-112025-1
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-00-723764-7
Ebook - 432 pages - 978-0-06-225442-9
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