Daughter of Fortune Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 25 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Daughter of Fortune.
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Daughter of Fortune Summary & Study Guide Description

Daughter of Fortune Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende.

Eliza is abandoned as a baby on the doorstep of Rose and Jeremy Sommers. The brother and sister have immigrated to Valparaiso, Chile, from England along with their other brother, John, a sea captain. The three siblings agree to take her in and raise her as a member of their family. Much of her upbringing is left to Mama Fresia, the head of the servants in the household, but Rose keeps her hand in as well.

As she comes of age, Rose wants Eliza to marry well and makes sure she is trained in all the graces society prefers. However, Eliza falls in love with a poor Chilean, Joaquin Andieta, who works as a clerk in her uncle’s shipping company. He knows he is not in a social position to marry her, so when word comes of vast quantities of gold lying on the shores of California for the taking, he joins in the gold rush of 1849. He wants to earn enough to return and marry Eliza. Soon after he departs, Eliza learns she is pregnant and decides to follow Joaquin.

Eliza goes to the port in Valparaiso looking for a way to secure passage to California without her family discovering her plan. She meets up with Tao Chi’en, a cook off her Uncle John’s ship to whom she had been recently introduced. He helps her stow away on a sailing ship bound for San Francisco and joins the crew himself as the cook. When she becomes ill en route and loses the baby, Tao Chi’en takes care of her and saves her life. When they arrive in San Francisco, he cannot abandon her in the mostly male frontier town. They dress her as a boy, tell people she is his brother, and set out to find Joaquin.

Eliza and Tao Chi’en circulate through the Chinese and Chilean communities that have sprung up, looking for her lover. They learn what they can about the mines and the way of life there. Meanwhile, their friendship grows and deepens. When Eliza decides it is time to set out into the wilderness to search for Joaquin, however, she goes without him. She travels with various groups of adventurers, still posing as a boy, claiming she is seeking her brother. Although she finds many leads, she never finds Joaquin.

Eliza has many adventures in the California wilderness. She keeps in touch with Tao Chi’en, who eventually finds her and convinces her to return to San Francisco with him. In the growing city they work together and live together, becoming a family without having an intimate relationship. Eliza continues her search for Joaquin, but more out of curiosity than desire by this point. She can no longer imagine settling down as his wife, enjoying the freedom she has found. As California becomes a state and civilization begins to arrive, Eliza finally abandons her male persona and becomes a strong woman in a new land.

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