Daughter of Fortune introduces readers to a young woman named Eliza Sommers, who, shortly after being born, was placed on the doorstep of Rose and Jeremy Sommers’s home in Valparaiso, Chile. Even though Eliza was an orphan, Miss Rose brought her up as if she were her own daughter and assured her that she was of British blood, as were all the Sommerses. Rose and Jeremy were unmarried siblings who came to Valparaiso when Jeremy acquired a position as the director of the British Import and Export Company. Rose supported this claim of British heritage with a story about the day they found Eliza on the doorstep. According to Miss Rose, Eliza was found in a beautifully adorned basket beneath an intricately handwoven blanket that only wealthy people could afford. Eliza, who has a memory of magical proportions, remembers being found in a soapbox covered with a wool sweater that smelled of cigar and the sea. Mama Fresia, the Sommers’s cook, Eliza’s first friend, and her companion in the world of Magical Realism, verifies Eliza’s version. However, Rose’s version turns out to carry some validity as well.
It is not long before Eliza falls in love with Joaquin Andieta, a Hispanic clerk who works for Jeremy’s company. Their love affair is filled with angst, secret meetings, and clandestine plans; this is because the social order places Hispanic people well below those of pure European ancestry, keeping them in destitute poverty and just above the native South Americans, who are not seen as people at all. Rose was grooming Eliza to marry a wealthy man of European descent; therefore, Eliza’s relationship with Joaquin is taboo. Eliza, however, puts all of her faith in Joaquin, who seems to love his socialist ideals more...
(The entire section is 712 words.)