Zorro by Isabel Allende
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was my first Isabel Allende novel (read in translation, as I sadly do not read Spanish), and I enjoyed it very much. It took me two tries to really get into it, but once Zorro (actually named Diego de la Vega) is born, the story picked up for me. The narrator (who we find out is one of the book's supporting characters) follows Diego and his "milk brother" (nursed together) Bernardo through childhood in Alta California, to Barcelona, Spain during the reign of Napoleon, and eventually back to California. The book is meant to examine Zorro before his legendary exploits truly take-off and show some of his formative experiences.
I liked that there was pretty constant action throughout the story, and that Diego could not carry out his adventures without the help of Bernardo and others. I also liked that the women in the story had more spine in them than "damsels in distress" (even Diego's principle love interest) and that Diego stayed connected to his Indian family (through his mother) while taking on the role of his Spanish father's heir.
I was sometimes surprised by events that were first mentioned briefly (for example, the pirate attack on the de la Vega hacienda) as if they were unimportant, then expounded on until we see that they were actually formative. I don't know if this story-telling style is relevant to it being told originally in Spanish, but it made for interesting reading.
I give it 4 stars instead of 5 only because I didn't feel it was a "life changing" book--I enjoyed it, and I felt that the historical details were well done, but I didn't feel when it was over that I needed to go convince everyone I know to read it immediately.
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