Manual The Daughter of Fortune

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NOOK Book. Other Format. 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 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. Born in Peru and raised in Chile, she lives in California. Chapter One Eliza 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.

The things we forget may as well never have happened, but she had many memories, both real and illusory, and that was like living twice. She used to tell her faithful friend, the sage Tao Chi'en, that her memory was like the hold of the ship where they had come to know one another: vast and somber, bursting with boxes, barrels, and sacks in which all the events of her life were jammed. Awake it was difficult to find anything in that chaotic clutter, but asleep she could, just as Mama Fresia had taught her in the gentle nights of her childhood, when the contours of reality were as faint as a tracery of pale ink.

She entered the place of her dreams along a much traveled path and returned treading very carefully in order not to shatter the tenuous visions against the harsh light of consciousness. She put as much store in that process as others put in numbers, and she so refined the art of remembering that she could see Miss Rose bent over the crate of Marseilles soap that was her first cradle.

Newborns are like cats, they have no emotions and no memory," Miss Rose insisted the few times the subject arose. Possible or not, that woman peering down at her, her topaz-colored dress, the loose strands from her bun stirring in the breeze were engraved in Eliza's mind, and she could never acceptthe other explanation of her origins. I am sure they knew how good-hearted my brother Jeremy is, and felt sure he would take you in.

In those days I was longing to have a child, and you fell into my arms, sent by God to be brought up in the solid principles of the Protestant faith and the English language. Don't get any ideas, child. You have Indian hair, like mine," Mama Fresia rebutted behind her patrona's back. But Eliza's birth was a forbidden subject in that house, and the child grew accustomed to the mystery.

It, along with other delicate matters, was never mentioned between Rose and Jeremy Sommers, but it was aired in whispers in the kitchen with Mama Fresia, who never wavered in her description of the soap crate, while Miss Rose's version was, with the years, embroidered into a fairy tale. According to her, the basket they had found at the office door was woven of the finest wicker and lined in batiste; Eliza's nightgown was worked with French knots and the sheets edged with Brussels lace, and topping everything was a mink coverlet, an extravagance never seen in Chile.

The mink, the coins, and the note conveniently disappeared, erasing any trace of her birth.

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Closer to Eliza's memories was Mama Fresia's explanation: when she opened the door one morning at the end of summer, she had found a naked baby girl in a crate. I was there and I remember very well. You were shivering and bundled up in a man's sweater. They hadn't even put a diaper on you, and you were covered with your own caca.


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Your nose was running and you were red as a boiled lobster, with a head full of fuzz like corn silk. That's how it was. Don't get any ideas," she repeated stoutly. Everything else was always a tangle of contradictions, and Eliza decided finally that it wasn't worth the effort to keep going over it, because whatever the truth was, she could do nothing to change it.

From "Daughter of Fortune",

What matters is what you do in this world, not how you come into it, she used to say to Tao Chi'en during the many years of their splendid friendship; he, however, did not agree. It was impossible for him to imagine his own life apart from the long chain of his ancestors, who not only had given him his physical and mental characteristics but bequeathed him his karma.

His fate, he believed, had been determined by the acts of his family before him, which was why he had to honor them with daily prayers and fear them when they appeared in their spectral robes to claim their due. Tao Chi'en could recite the names of all his ancestors, back to the most remote and venerable great-great-grandparents dead now for more than a century. His primary concern during the gold madness was to go home in time to die in his village in China and be buried beside his ancestors; if not, his soul would forever wander aimlessly in a foreign land.

Plot Summary Can we control our own destinies?

Daughter of Fortune Summary & Study Guide

What does it take to change the course of our lives so that we may pursue our dreams? And how do we know that our decisions are the right ones, especially if we hurt others or ourselves in the process? These are the questions posed by Isabel Allende's fascinating story of bravery and passion, of a young woman's incredible journey from one world to another, from innocence to wisdom. Born into a 19th-century society that values birthright above character, Eliza Sommers is at a startling disadvantage.

She is not even sure how she arrived at the Sommers household-only that she is lucky enough to be cared for, educated, and even loved by her adopted family.


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  8. So when Eliza exhibits the signs of a first love, the women in her life come to her "rescue," certain that this adolescent passion will lead to trouble. Meanwhile, in America, gold has been discovered in the hills of northern California, and by , everyone is swept up in the promise of the Gold Rush. Allende's portrait of California illustrates the chaos and excitement of the Gold Rush-the promise of wealth, and of a new world.

    Mexicans refused to accept the loss of their territory in the war, or to be run off their ranches and the mines. The Chinese bore abuse silently; they did not leave, but kept prospecting, not earning enough for a flea, but with such infinite tenacity that gain by grain they amassed wealth. Thousands of Chileans and Peruvians, who had been the first to arrive when gold fever blossomed, decided to return to their countries because it wasn't worth pursuing their dreams under such conditions. That year, , the legislature of California approved a tax on mining operations designed to protect whites.

    Blacks and Indians were left out, unless they worked like slaves, and foreigners had to pay twenty dollars and renew rights to their claim monthly, which in practice was impossible. They couldn't leave the placers to travel several weeks to the city to obey the law, but if they didn't, the sheriff took over their mine and gave it to an American.

    Daughter Of Fortune by Isabel Allende Essay

    The people in charge of enforcing those measures were chosen by the governor and earned their salaries from taxes and fines, a perfect setup for encouraging corruption. The law applied only to dark-skinned foreigners, even though according to the treaty that ended the war in the Mexicans had rights to American citizenship. Another decree was the last nail in the coffin: claims on their ranches, where they had lived for generations had to be ratified by a court in San Francisco.

    This procedure took years and cost a fortune; in addition, the judges and constables were often the same ones who had appropriated the claims. In view of the fact that the law did not protect them, some Mexicans decided to act outside it, spiritedly throwing themselves into the role of outlaws.

    Men who formerly had been content to steal cattle now attacked solitary miners and travelers. Some gangs were famous for their cruelty; they not only robbed the victims, they took pleasure in torturing them before they killed them. There was talk of one particular bandido to whom they attributed, among other offenses, the terrible death of two young Americans. Their bodies were found tied to a tree, with signs of having been used as a target for knife throwers: their tormentors had also cut out their tongues, pierced their eyes, and cut off live flesh before leaving them to slowly die.

    Isabel Allende: How to live passionately—no matter your age

    Outlaws and fires were the chief subjects of conversation in California; they kept citizens terrorized and the press occupied. Crime was rampant and police corruption common knowledge; most of the force was composed of crooks more interested in protecting their partners in crime than the local populace.

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    After one more raging fire, which destroyed a large area of San Francisco, a vigilante committee had been formed by outraged citizens, headed by the ineffable Sam Brannan, the Mormon who had spread the news of the gold. Companies of firemen pulling water carts by hand ran uphill and down, but before they reached a burning building flames would be leaping from the one beside it. The fire had begun when Australian "hounds" had splashed kerosene all through the store of a merchant who had refused to pay them protection money, and then torched it. In view of the indifference of the authorities, the committee had decided to act on its own.

    The newspapers clamored, "How many crimes have been committed in this city this year? And who has been hanged or jailed for them? No one! How many men have been shot or stabbed, hit over the head and beat up? And who has been convicted for that? We do not condone lynching, but who can tell what an indignant public will do to protect itself? Vigilantes immediately threw themselves into the task and hanged the first suspect. The numbers of these self-appointed enforcers grew day by day, and they acted with such excessive enthusiasm that for the first time outlaws took care to move about only in the full light of day.

    Signed by Author s. Seller Inventory MX. First Edition. Hardcover with dustjacket. Like New. 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 woman who has the courage to reinvent herself and to create her own destiny in a new country.

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    Seller Inventory X1. Items related to Daughter of Fortune: A Novel. Daughter of Fortune: A Novel. Isabel Allende. Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Buy New Learn more about this copy. Other Popular Editions of the Same Title. Search for all books with this author and title. Customers who bought this item also bought. Stock Image. Published by Harper Collins Publishers New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1.

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