book review: Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

Daughter of Fortune: A Novel (P.S.)The backstory: It's time for a confession, folks. I worked as a bookseller at an independent bookstore in college, and sometimes I cheerfully recommended books I haven't read. One of my go to novels for those who liked historical fiction (which I rarely read then except for Sarah Waters, whose debut Tipping the Velvet had rocked my socks off), was Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. In my defense, I had read other novels, but the book buyers at this store wanted new things; they wanted hardbacks. Clearly a tinge of guilt is still there, so I decided it was finally time to read this novel I recommended to so many that year.

My thoughts: When I first sat down with Daughter of Fortune, I intended to read for only fifteen minutes. I  immensely dislike being between two books, and I wanted just enough to give me a taste of what was to come. An hour later, I was sad to put the book down. Sometimes there are books, and in this case, the character of Eliza, who dig in and fascinate me as a reader so much I just want to see what happens. Daughter of Fortune was one of those books. The story drove my desire to read it.

I do tend to love books that begin with a relevant map. Maps serve as wonderful hints of the places to come, and the geographical trajectory of life is a favorite theme of mine (it's a fancier way to say nomadreader after all.) This novel is full of themes I love: women in historically unconventional roles, ordinary people in historic moments, and belonging. This novel feels more epic than its 399 pages.

The verdict: I've been recommending this novel for years, but now I can do so with authenticity. Historical fiction fans will delight in Eliza's journey; I was mesmerized by her from the novels opening pages and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the places life took her.

Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Length: 399 pages
Publication date: October 6, 1999; it's in paperback now
Source: Harper Perennial, courtesy of TLC Book Tours

Want to learn more about Isabel Allende? Check out her website. This tour also features several of her backlist titles, including this one. The full tour itinerary is here.

Convinced? Treat yourself to Daughter of FortuneSearch for Daughter of Fortune in paperback.

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!


  1. Sandy just gave me a copy of this one, and I am really excited to read it! I love historical fiction that is done well, and I have heard nothing but good things about this book. It sounds like it's a heck of a read! Thanks for the great review!

  2. I'm ashamed to admit it but I haven't read any of Allende's work yet and I have had Daughter of Fortune on my shelves for quite some time!

  3. !!! I just read a great review of Portrait in Sepia so now I'm desperate to get these two books! So thrilled you like it -- Allende has such a great way with language!

  4. I read this book a long time ago, so the details are foggy, but I remember loving it. You definitely should read more Allende. I loved Ines of My Soul and Island Beneath the Sea.

  5. I love that you'd been recommending this for years without actually reading it - I've done that with a few books myself. :)

    Still, I'm happy to see that you did actually enjoy it after you've recommended it to so many people. And I'm like you - a relevant map at the start of the book is definitely a good thing.

    Thanks for being on the tour!


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