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.
As Eliza grows up, she becomes less tractable, and when she falls in love with Joachin Andieta, a clerk in Jeremy's firm, her adoptive family is horrified. They are even more so when a now-pregnant Eliza follows her lover to California where he has gone to make his fortune in the 1849 gold rush. Along the way Eliza meets Tao Chi'en, a Chinese doctor who saves her life and becomes her closest friend. What starts out as a search for a lost love becomes, over time, the discovery of self; and by the time Eliza finally catches up with the elusive Joachin, she is no longer sure she still wants what she once wished for. Allende peoples her novel with a host of colorful secondary characters. She even takes the narrative as far afield as China, providing an intimate portrait of Tao Chi'en's past before returning to 19th-century San Francisco, where he and Eliza eventually fetch up. Readers with a taste for the epic, the picaresque, and romance that is satisfyingly complex will find them all in Daughter of Fortune.
I wouldn't call Daughter of Fortune a Native-themed book because the Native presence is muted. But Eliza's mother is Chilean, so she's part Native. More important, Eliza's upbringing is a tug-of-war between Rose, the Englishwoman who represents intellect, artificiality, and constraint, and Mama Fresia, the Indian woman who represents passion, genuineness, and freedom.
When Eliza escapes to America, the land of opportunity, her Indian side comes to the fore. Like the Californians around her, she learns to eschew antiquated concepts such as honor, propriety, and convention. In other words, she throws off the shackles of European civilization and becomes a "noble savage."
The only reason I rate Daughter of Fortune an 8.0 rather than an 8.5 like Zorro is because the ending was a little weak. As the book approached the finish, I was wondering how Allende was going to tie up the loose ends in the space left. Answer: She didn't. This book could easily warrant a sequel or at least another 3-4 chapters to wrap up the characters' stories.
P.S. Read here for more reviews of Daughter of Fortune.