A terrific, well researched, tale of life during the Gold Rush of 1849. You can read it as the search of a woman for her lost love, or you can read it for details of life at that time and in that place. After I finished it, I followed with a history of the Gold Rush.
A historical novel "seasoned" by four cultures,--English, Chilean, Chinese, and American. Set during the California Gold Rush, this adventure story is filled with romance, passion and great storytelling!
Fantastic book with well-developed characters. The book wasn't entirely predictable, which I enjoyed. It was also interesting to read about the California Gold Rush from a non-Anglo perspective. A nice, captivating, cultured book.
This one started out really very slow for me. The first 75 pages or so really drag out the set up to this novel. The middle section is really good, the parts once they reach SFO are fascinating. Then it ends. Really abruptly. I'm left feeling that the author didn't finish the story. Where's the rest of it? Did she reach some pre-determined page count and then had to stop? A pretty good book, would be better with less at the beginning and more at the end.
To be honest, I'm still not sure if I liked this book or not.
While the main character is listed as Eliza, it seems that nearly every character you come across has their own (lengthy) backstory that almost rivals hers. They're all inter-connected in some way but not to a degree that we really need to know all of that information.
Don't get me wrong, Allende has a fantastic way of writing that brings the details to life. It was a quick and easy read with beautiful imagery and interesting stories. It held my attention enough that I wanted to finish it but I thought it really started to shine towards the end of the novel. The end is so abrupt that I went online to make sure my copy hadn't had pages torn out.
I loved this story. From Chile to the Gold Rush of California, the characters are rich and take you along with them on an adventure. "Portrait in Sepia" also by Allende, follows the characters and their families further in generations. Fantastic read!
Long on character development, short on plot. I thought it was a rush to finish at the end. Having said that, it was an excellent read as to a story of the gold rush from a previously unexplored direction. Instead of a story of the gold rush itself we have a small cast of characters from South America and China caught up in an all too brief and intense period of real american history. Oprah was right, it's an excellent read.
I really liked it until the end where it kind of fizzled out. I see there is a sequel so maybe that is why the book just whimpered at the end. Loved her style and found the characters interesting enough to read more of her work though.
This book seems like it would like to be the Chilean "Gone with the Wind," but it doesn't make it. Still, it's an interesting story with insights into the lives of 19th century women, much determined by class and status, and the spirit of one young woman that takes her from claustrophobic comfort in Chile to the freedom and danger of the California Gold Rush.
This may be a novel, but when reading the story, it sounds so real. The descriptions of the land as well as the characters are perfect. It is so readable and believable. Highly recommend this book. She has written a sequel to this story "Portrait in Sepia" that is just as good. Enjoy them both.
Eliza Sommers, left alone and pregnant in Chile when her lover Joaquin runs off to California during the Gold Rush, decides to follow him only to become entranced with her new life of freedom and independence.
Loved the history of California during the gold rush. A very good read, but I didn't realize that this wasn't the first in a series until after I was finished!! But, in this case, it didn't really matter.
set in the mid-1800s, this novel follows the fortunes of Eliza Sommers, Chilean by birth but adopted by a British spinster, Rose Sommers, and her bachelor brother, Jeremy, after she is abandoned on their doorstep.
"You have English blood, like us," Miss Rose assured Eliza when she was old enough to understand. "Only someone from the British colony would have thought to leave you in a basket on the doorstep of the British Import and Export Company, Limited. 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."
The family servant, Mama Fresia, has a different point of view, however: "You, English? Don't get any ideas, child. You have Indian hair, like mine." And certainly Eliza's almost mystical ability to recall all the events of her life would seem to stem more from the Indian than the Protestant side
An adopted daughter of a well bred family breaks the social rules in upper class Chile and flees to California. Eliza endures a horrendous ocean crossing in search of her lover and barely recovers. With help from Tai Chi'en, a young,widowed Chinese doctor, and a kind-hearted prostitute, she survives to shape her new life during the gold rush in California.
Throughout her adventures there, Eliza remains close to Tao Chi'en, her rescuer and friend. Dressed as a young boy, and mute brother of Tao Chi'en, Eliza's adventures unfold in her new country as does love...but not as she expected it.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
From acclaimed international bestselling author Isabel Allende comes this dazzling historical novel, a sweeping portrait of an unconventional woman carving her own destiny in an era defined by violence, passion, and adventure. An orphan raised in Valparaiso, Chile, by a Victorian spinster and her rigid brother, young, vivacious Eliza Sommers follows her lover to California during the Gold Rush of 1849 -- a danger-filled quest that will become a momentous journey of transformation. In this rough-and-tumble world of panhandlers and prostitutes, immigrants and aristocrats, Eliza will discover a new life of freedom, independence, and a love greater than any ever dreamed.