Book Review: "Daughter of Fortune" by Isabel Allende

June 9, 2009

I’ve been very behind in book reviews and some of my faithful readers have brought this to my attention. While my reading obsession has calmed just a bit in the first half of 2009, I do have several reviews in the wings still.

Absorbing and quietly magical, with scads of feminine energy and colonial oppression. An interesting work when paired against Allende’s master work, The House of Spirits, which I read within a month of this novel. Allende chooses appealing patterns for her characters, giving us something that is both an easy pleasure and a satisfying literary read.

‘Daughter of Fortune’ is not as complex as The House of the Spirits; it can be viewed as the groundbreaking novel’s cheerful sister. We have a rebellious, role-breaking heroine (House of Spirits: Ditto) in love with a hopeless, down-on-his-luck socialist/Marxist (House of Spirits: Ditto) while living in an imprisoning and unforgiving society (HOS: Ditto).

Where this branches away from The House of the Spirits is in Allende’s newer interest in writing about the northern parts of the American continent. We get to go to California and hang out with the go-getters and upstarts of the Gold Rush. This is great fun.
There’s not a lot of trailblazing artistry in Daughter of Fortune. It does tend to revisit Allende’s plot devices a bit too much at times. But Allende’s genre is a compelling one, a spiritually calming one. One I find myself wanting to return to, often.

4.5 stars

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