Monday, February 27, 2006

Daughter of Fortune

This book was part of a group by the same author on my library shelf. I wasn't particularly inspired by any of the books written by Isabel Allende. I picked this one because it had Oprah's stamp of approval on the cover (a part of her book club). Flipping through the book, I didn't find anything objectionable so it came home with me.

The book starts off very well. The characters are interesting and engaging. Her descriptions of Chile and the early British settlers really captured my attention. But as I delved deeper into the book, some things started to bug me. The book takes place between 1843-1853, the early Victorian Era. And yet the main female characters seem to have traveled through the sexual revolution. Rose, the adoptive mother, and adopted daugher Eliza, both experience pre-marital sex and freedom from marriage. As British women, I would have expected them to have Victorian morals. And despite the rumors to the contrary, they are able to be a part of the British upper-class and society.

Despite that nagging problem, the author delves into detailed descriptions of the sexual experiences of the characters. She mentions Rose's past history in the beginning of the story with just a passing statement. I could accept Rose's flawed character and guess as to her history. Then later she has a full chapter about it, which was completely unnecessary. From that chapter on, the book just follows the same theme.

I am not opposed to reading feminist novels. But I am opposed to reading a book with a lot of sex and sexual description. I stopped reading the book at page 100. I consider any author that has to rely on sex, foul language, or extreme violence to tell a story a poor literary craftsmen. This is fair warning that Oprah's selections may not be appropriate for everyone. And a fair warning about the types of stories Isabel Allende writes.

Book Rating: 1 Star for effort. Clean up the story, and it may be worth reading.

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