My 2017 reading got off to a wonderful start in January, but my favorite book of the month was Isabel Allende’s Daughter of Fortune. (Although I’ve linked to it hear, avoid the synopsis on Goodreads – it gives the whole story away, which I would’ve rather discovered in the course of reading.)
To review Daughter of Fortune, I need to start by talking about The Awakening, by Kate Chopin.
Without revealing the entire plot of The Awakening, it focuses on a woman who is increasingly disillusioned and depressed by the limitations of being a proper lady at the turn of the century. It’s an important book and a good book, especially as an early feminist work.
I was lucky enough to read it under the guidance of a teacher who asked – why? Why doesn’t she escape? Run away? Go West? I don’t think that’s a common question asked about The Awakening.
But if you think it’s a good question, I think you’ll like Daughter of Fortune.
This is the story of Eliza, a young girl of mysterious origins growing up in Chile and discovering how to make her own way in the world. In addition to Chile, the story takes us to England, China, and the United States. While first love ignites the main action of the book, the importance of friends and family are really what make this book shine.
Nearly every character is fully realized. Though this seems to be a source of frustration for some readers (at least according to Goodreads reviews, where people, in so many words, asked “When are we getting back to the real story?”), delving into the backgrounds of the secondary characters was one of my favorite parts of the book. In that respect, it reminds me of my favorite book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. Fans of well-realized historical fiction should not miss Daughter of Fortune.
Daughter of Fortune qualifies toward my reading in translation goal and reading Hispanic and Latinx authors goal within my 2017 reading challenge.