by Isabel Allende

Reviewer Rating:


Daughter of Fortune was, like almost all of Isabel Allende's novels, a sweeping epic that pulled me in and never let me go. The story of love-stricken Eliza Sommers as she leaves her native Chile to follow the father of her unborn baby to San Francisco in 1849, year of the California Gold Rush is a fascinating glimpse into the culture of the rough, but hopeful Forty-Niners who were responsible for creating the start of the Western cities that we know today. 

The book is simultaneously interesting because of the wonderful characters and the historical background in which their story takes place. A Shanghaied Chinese doctor who becomes Eliza's close friend, a scandalized British socialite sent to the port city of Valparaiso to save her family from shame where she uses her time to write outrageously popular erotica, a band of misfits making up a wagon-based traveling bordello, and a passionate Chilean revolutionary who might or might not have become the most infamous bandit of the Western Coast join together in their adventure in a world of shanty towns, overnight fortune, and lawlessness abounding. 

Reading this, you will alternate between shock one moment by the harsh realities of history, to your heart swelling with hope as a character finds their way the next, to intrigue as you wonder what will become of this strange new civilization.

I heartily recommend this novel.

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