Daughter of Fortune, by Isabel Allende
(translated by Margaret Sayers Peden)
(New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2008)
"An orphan raised in Valparaiso, Chile, by a Victorian spinster and her rigid brother, vivacious young Eliza Sommers follows her lover to California during the Gold Rush of 1849. Entering a rough-and-tumble world of new arrivals driven mad by gold fever, Eliza moves in a society of single men and prostitutes with the help of her good friend and savior, the Chinese doctor Tao Chi'en. California opens the door to a new life of freedom and independence to the young Chilean, and her search for her elusive lover gradually turns into another kind of journey. By the time she finally hears news of him, Eliza must decide who her true love really is"
"Everyone is born with some special talent, and Eliza Sommers discovered early on that she had two: a good sense of smell and a good memory."
Maybe it's because I'm now getting into the more recent parts of my backlog, or maybe it's just that Isabel Allende is a brilliant writer, but when I decided it was time for a Latin American-themed flight of books, this was what I had in mind. (The fact that the protagonist's name is Eliza doesn't hurt, but I'd have loved Daughter of Fortune anyway.) Exciting adventure story with just enough twists and turns, and great characters. Just blogging about it and remembering how much I enjoyed it is almost enough to make me look forward to my long commute tomorrow and listening to Ines of My Soul. Almost.