Daughter of Fortune

Version: Unabridged
Author: Isabel Allende
Narrator: Blair Brown
Genres: Literature, Historical Fiction
Publisher: HarperAudio
Published In: June 2008
# of Units: 11 CDs
Length: 13 hours
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Orphaned at birth, Eliza Sommers is raised in the British colony of ValparaÍ so, Chile, by the well-intentioned Victorian spinster Miss Rose and her more rigid brother Jeremy. Just as she meets and falls in love with the wildly inappropriate JoaquÍ n Andieta, a lowly clerk who works for Jeremy, gold is discovered in the hills of northern California. By 1849, Chileans of every stripe have fallen prey to feverish dreams of wealth. JoaquÍ n takes off for San Francisco to seek his fortune, and Eliza, pregnant with his child, decides to follow him.

So begins Isabel Allende's enchanting new novel, "Daughter of Fortune," her most ambitious work of fiction yet. As we follow her spirited heroine on a perilous journey north in the hold of a ship to the rough-and-tumble world of San Francisco and northern California, we enter a world whose newly arrived inhabitants are driven mad by gold fever. A society of single men and prostitutes among whom Eliza moves--with the help of her good friend and savior, the Chinese doctor Tao Chien--California opens the door to a new life of freedom and independence for the young Chilean. Her search for the elusive JoaquÍ n gradually turns into another kind of journey that transforms her over time, and what began as a search for love ends up as the conquest of personal freedom. By the time she finally hears news of him, Eliza must decide who her true love really is.

"Daughter of Fortune" is a sweeping portrait of an era, a story rich in character, history, violence, and compassion. In Eliza, Allende has created one of her most appealing heroines, an adventurous, independent-minded, and highly unconventional young woman who has thecourage to reinvent herself and to create her own destiny in a new country. A marvel of storytelling, "Daughter of Fortune" confirms once again Isabel Allende's extraordinary gift for fiction and her place as one of the world's leading writers.

Reviews (40)

Daughter of Fortune

Written by Anonymous on September 30th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 4/5

This was a very good book. Definitley worth the time for it.

lovely until the end

Written by Chickole on May 12th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I loved this book, but was so disappointed with the ending... it was just as another reviewer said 'as though the author got tired of writing and quit'. So many unanswered questions and relationships not finished out...the only reason for the 4 stars and not 5. I dearly wish the author would have continued the book and finished it to the end....until then wonderful read.

Nothing new to report

Written by Seaweed on March 22nd, 2011

  • Book Rating: 3/5

The book kept my interest but barely. If it had been 2 or 3 discs longer, I'd probably have sent it back unfinished. My biggest issue, though, was the long length of the tracks. Listening on my car player, if I want to play something back because I've missed something, I have to go back to the beginning of the track. On most audiobooks, that means I have to repeat maybe 3 minutes, tops. On this one, the tracks were over 10 minutes long each. Reader was decent.

Daughter of Fortune

Written by Nan from Providence Forge, VA on March 8th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 3/5

I felt this book ended abruptly. Like the author was tired of writing. There were too many characters that were developed then left hanging. There did seem to be plenty of historical background to keep the story interesting from that standpoint.

A bad bargain

Written by John Parker from Spring Hill, TN on December 24th, 2010

  • Book Rating: 2/5

I didn't care for this audio book. I thought the narration was fine, but for me the work was too long for the entertainment value provided. At some point I just didn't care any more about the characters or the story. Seems like it was written to be a mini-series on network television.

slow start - but hang in there

Written by Anonymous on July 12th, 2010

  • Book Rating: 5/5

It took a few chapters to get into this book, but don't give up too soon. It was a very interesting adventure.

Daughter of Fortune

Written by Anonymous from Fullerton, CA on November 18th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 5/5

A good portrayal and a nice peek into that time period based on my studies.

Fortunate Reader

Written by Book Junkie on November 11th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Love this book, including the ending! The story was realistic and the historical references fascinating.

Excellent read

Written by Anonymous from Hemet, CA on October 27th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This was a wonderful historical novel. I learned a lot about the California gold rush. The story was engaging and had just the right amount of spice and scandel. The narrator was excellent.

What fortune?

Written by Anita on August 7th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 3/5

This book was left unfinished.So many loose ends remained untied. It seemed like many chapters were devoted to characters that didn't really matter, or at least not enough to warrant so much storyline. Maybe the author is planning a sequel. Still, it was interesting for the historical parts.

Author Details

Author Details

Allende, Isabel

Allende was born in Lima, Peru to diplomat Tomás Allende, the Chilean ambassador to Peru and Francisca Llona Barros. Tomás Allende was the first cousin (with Isabel thus being first cousin, once removed)[2] [3] [4] of Salvador Allende, the President of Chile from 1970 to 1973. It is important to note that many sources also cite Isabel as Salvador Allende's niece, although most, if not all of these sources, do not state the relationship between Salvador and Tomás. The reason for this is that in Spanish, the words "tio" and "tia" refer equally to the siblings of one's parents as to the cousins of one's parents. So, in Spanish, Isabel Allende is, indeed, the niece of Salvador Allende, but in English, she is not his niece, but rather his first cousin once removed. [5] In 1945, after Tomás's "disappearance"[2], Isabel's mother relocated with their three children to Chile, where they lived until 1953, moving briefly to Bolivia, then Lebanon. The family returned to Chile in 1958 so that Allende could complete her secondary education.

Allende attended a number of private schools in Lebanon and Chile and was also briefly home-schooled. The young Isabel also read widely, particularly the works of William Shakespeare. In Chile she met her first husband Miguel Frías, whom she married in 1962. Reportedly, "Allende married early, into an Anglophile family and a kind of double life: at home she was the obedient wife and mother of two; in public she became, after a spell translating Barbara Cartland, a moderately well-known TV personality, a dramatist and a journalist on a feminist magazine."[2]

From 1959 to 1965, Allende worked with the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization in Santiago, then later in Brussels, Belgium, and elsewhere in Europe. For a brief while in Chile, she also had a job translating Romance novels from English to Spanish. However, she was fired for making unauthorized changes to the dialogue of the heroines to make them sound more intelligent as well as altering the Cinderella endings to let the heroines find more independence and do good in the world. Her daughter Paula was born in 1963. In 1966, Allende returned to Chile, and her son Nicolás was born there that year.

Reportedly, "the CIA-backed military coup in [September of] 1973 (that brought Augusto Pinochet to power) changed everything" for Allende because "her name meant she was caught up in finding safe passage for those on the wanted lists" (helping until her mother and stepfather, a diplomat in Argentina, narrowly escaped assassination).[2] When she herself was added to the list and began receiving death threats, she fled to Venezuela, where she stayed for 13 years. [2]

During a visit to California in 1988, Allende met her second husband, attorney Willie Gordon. In 1994 she was awarded the Gabriela Mistral Order of Merit- the first woman to receive this honor. In 2003, Allende obtained United States citizenship and currently lives in San Francisco. Most of her family lives near her with her son living "with his second wife and her grandchildren just down the hill; her son-in-law and his family live in the house she and her second husband, San Francisco lawyer and novelist William Gordon, vacated."[2]

In 2006, she was one of the eight flag bearers at the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

In 2008, Allende received the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters from San Francisco State University for her "distinguished contributions as a literary artist and humanitarian." [San Francisco State University 2008 Commencement Program]