Book Review: Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

12 02 2015

Daughter of FortuneDaughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende did not disappoint. For me good historical fiction is an engaging story with great complexity that contains characters, events, and places based on history that sparks my interest enough to do further research. In other words good historical fiction brings history alive.

Broadly speaking Daughter of Fortune is about people immigrating to North America in search of a better life. The great appeal for many was “Wiping the slate clean” and inventing a new life based on hard work and innovation without the societal shackles of the old worlds.

More particularly the story is of one woman’s journey, from Chile to America during the time of the California gold rush in the mid 1800s. Paralleling her physical journey is her emotional and spiritual journey, her journey from childhood to womanhood, and her journey to becoming an American (culturally if not legally). As a resident and lover of California this time in history is of high interest to me. The story made me think about the melange of people that came from around the world and the circumstances of the time that greatly influenced the foundation and development of California that persists to this day. Feminism is also a very important theme in this story, but I will say no more so as to not create spoilers.

The author gave an account of the California gold rush from a different point of view than what I learned in school (here in California): the non-white point of view. For example, it mentions how many gold rushers from Central and South America arrived before east coast Americans, because traveling by ship was faster than the overland route. Once the east coast Americans arrived and saw that some of the Mexican and South Americans were successful at finding gold new laws were created that were pointedly racist, and made it more difficult for non-white people. What little research I did after reading this makes me think this and other things mentioned in the story (like the infamous outlaw Joaquin Murrieta, and the “Spanish Dancer,” Lola Montez) are plausible, but because of conflicting stories and shady and sensationalized news reporting who can know for sure. It definitely calls into question history as taught in schools, and I will be very interested to read anything I find on the subjects. I’m basing this on when I was in high school in the 80s I’m not sure how they teach this part of California history today in California. It would be interesting to know!

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Pinnacles National Park Radio Chat this Afternoon, 2/20/2013, 4-5 pacific time

20 02 2013

Pinnacles National Park Radio Chat this Afternoon, 2/20/2013, 4-5 pacific time

I’ll be chatting about the newly christened Pinnacles National park with David Congalton this afternoon on Hometown Radio from 4:00-5:00 p.m. Tune in, and feel free to call in with questions and comments!

Here are some photos from past hiking trips at Pinnacles.

Here are some photos from my latest Pinnacles hiking trip, 2/2/2013.

Gaviota Peak 2013

18 02 2013

View to the east from Gaviota PeakView to the east from Gaviota PeakCeanothus on Gaviota PeakCeanothus on Gaviota PeakCeanothus on Gaviota PeakCeanothus on Gaviota Peak
Ceanothus on Gaviota PeakRyan and Maya Amid the Ceanothus at Gaviota PeakCeanothus on Gaviota PeakRyan and MayaCeanothus on Gaviota PeakCeanothus on Gaviota Peak
Ryan Amid the Ceanothus at Gaviota Peak

Gaviota Peak 2013, a set on Flickr.

Here are a few photos from my Gaviota peak hike last Saturday (Santa Barbara county). It was gorgeous day, and our native ceanothus shrubs were in full bloom and covering the peak and surrounding hillsides. The aroma was amazing! Additionally, it was a clear day that offered 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside – rolling oak covered hills, the Santa Barbara coastline, the sparkling, blue Pacific ocean and the Channel islands in the distance. This is one of my very favorite hikes on the California Central Coast!

Cirsium occidentale var. compactum (Compact Cobwebby Thistle)

30 05 2012

A highlight of my outing to Arroyo de la Cruz at Hearst San Simeon State Park last Saturday was seeing this cute little pokey plant, which also happens to be a rare endemic native. I added 5 photos of it to my Flickr photo stream. It was picturesquely growing near a bluff over the Pacific ocean.

San Miguel, California

14 05 2012

So after 4 straight days of being on-the-go I’m taking a break in the middle of my east coast vacation and working on some old photos (I’m always backlogged!). This set was from almost a year ago. After hiking the Balconies cave and cliffs loop at Pinnacles National Monument, we stopped in San Miguel for a quick visit to Mission San Miguel and dinner at the Basque Tenth Street Cafe. Click here to see my complete Flickr photo set.

Come along for a ride… It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!

29 04 2012

“My soul blows crazy on the sails of a ~ derelict wind”~ from Good Love, one of my favorite tracks on the new CD by Lance Taylor, “American Love.”

So for the past 6 months my job has been to drive every paved, public road from Santa Maria to the Salinas valley plus up Pacific Coast Highway through Big Sur. I have about a week to go, and then my job assignment will be finished. Yesterday I was driving down this remote road off the Salinas valley enjoying a gorgeous spring day and listening to my singer songwriter friend’s new CD (Lance Taylor of Key West). I really love his music and new CD, “American Love!” I spontaneously decided to take this video with my iPhone as a souvenir of this fun job, and to preserve such a lovely memory. I never did see another car on this road. The video is a little shaky, because it was a rough, country road, and I was driving with one hand and holding my phone cam with the other. Look carefully, too, and you will see all kinds of critters in the air and on the road throughout the whole recording.

Check out Lance’s music on the Lance Taylor Music web site:

Próxima Parada at Linnaea’s Cafe in San Luis Obispo

12 04 2012

I created a new channel on my Vimeo account with some casual recordings I’ve made of one of my favorite local bands based in San Luis Obispo, California. Although young, this group of talented singer-songwriters and musicians, draws from some of the great musical artists of the 60s & 70s as well as more contemporary artists. The styles of the music they perform vary quite a bit, so the best thing to do is just sit back and enjoy listening to a selection of their music, and you’ll see what I mean. It would be even better to see them live, and they’ve been playing around here and there in San Luis Obispo, and especially lately at the popular Linnaea’s Cafe downtown on Garden Street. In fact, Próxima Parada will be playing at Linnaea’s Cafe this Saturday, April 14 from 8-10 p.m. Their sets always (at least the three times I’ve seen them perform) include a fun mix of original songs written by Nick Larson and/or Bryson Bailey as well as some carefully chosen covers, some going back to before these guys were born!

Click here to go to the Próxima Parada channel on Vimeo.

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