Adventures in Reading

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

So I’ve done it again: I have a growing stack of books I keep intended to write up but forget so the stack keeps getting larger. Even with the amount of studying and preparation I’ve been doing for my classes, I have still been reading fairly steadily.

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende is my second book by Allende. After my disappointment with Inés of My Soul, I did not get around to picking up another book until nearly a year later. Daughter of Fortune is the story of Eliza, an orphaned Chilean taken in by British aristocrats in the colony of Valparaíso. She is seen very much as a daughter by the spinster sister Rose, who takes periodic interest in the child and the rest of Eliza’s youth is spent with Mama Fresia in the kitchen. Once Eliza hits puberty Rose takes a great interest into grooming Eliza into a proper young woman so the orphan can make a good and prominent match. That is, until Eliza falls in love with Joaquín, is impregnated, and hides a stowaway to track him through the California wilderness he left her for in search of gold.

Daughter of Fortune also is a book of class status and escaping one’s birth. Allende explores this with Rose, but also with the defiant and unsettled city of San Francisco compared to the strict and reserved culture of Chile. In this environment Allende also guides Eliza through racism, interracial relationships, and sexual exploration. Daughter of Fortune explores the power and lust of first love as well as how love can effect someone. In some ways, I found this novel very similar to Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Marquez, but admit that I am quite partial to Allende’s retelling of such themes of love.

Other opinions: Katrina’s Reads, Fizzy Thoughts.



I rwad this book a few years ago–it was actually my introduction to Allende’s work. I loved it–I may have re-read sometime.

Comment by Katherine

I read Allende after I read Marquez and I like Allende’s work a bit better too. My favorite was A Portrait in Sepia by Allende. If you liked A Daughter of Fortune check that one out :)

Comment by Amanda

I read this book earlier this month and enjoyed it, but I did think it could have done with being a bit shorter. I hope you don’t mind but I’ve linked your review to mine. Mine can be found here:

Comment by katrina

Katherine: Glad to hear you enjoyed it. I’m glad I went ahead and picked it up and gave Allende another chance.

Amanda: I will definitely have to keep my eye out for A Portrait of Sepia by Allende. And I agree, so far I’m a bit more partial to Allende than Marquez.

Katrina: Shorter – definitely! Recently I find myself struggling through lengthier novels that in retrospect really don’t have to be nearly as lengthy.

Comment by bookchronicle

[…] of a story July 12, 2008 On my post of Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende, Katrina commented that the book could have been a bit shorter and in retrospect […]

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[…] An interesting contrast to this is the sister who takes in and raises the main character of Allende’s Daughter of Fortune – a woman who anonymously publishes erotica and leads the social influence of her group. No […]

Pingback by Revisited Reviews: Woman of Independent Means by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey « Adventures in Reading

[…] is the Gate (a biblical quote I believe) is another novel, like Love in the Time of Cholera or Daughter of Fortune, that explores a theme of immature or naive love. It has the sticky and sickly sweet expression […]

Pingback by Revisted: Strait is the Gate by André Gide « Adventures in Reading

I finished reading Daughter of Fortune tonight and have been letting it bubble around my consciousness for a few hours.

Initially I found myself wishing for more depth of emotion and insight, but the more I think about it, I’m developing an appreciation of Allende’s enticing style. She doesn’t spoon-feed you the story, dragging your emotions where she desires. Instead, she lays out the story, sets up key scenes and lets you discover the underlying emotion for yourself, depending on your own perspective and experience for interpretation and insight.

This story is growing on me by the minute.

Comment by Cat Johnson

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