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Zorro: A Novel [Paperback]

Isabel Allende
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 12 2006

A child of two worlds—the son of an aristocratic Spanish military man turned landowner and a Shoshone warrior woman—young Diego de la Vega cannot silently bear the brutal injustices visited upon the helpless in late-eighteenth-century California. And so a great hero is born—skilled in athleticism and dazzling swordplay, his persona formed between the Old World and the New—the legend known as Zorro.


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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Allende's lively retelling of the Zorro legend reads as effortlessly as the hero himself might slice his trademark "Z" on the wall with a flash of his sword. Born Diego de la Vega in 1795 to the valiant hidalgo, Alejandro, and the beautiful Regina, the daughter of a Spanish deserter and an Indian shaman, our hero grows up in California before traveling to Spain. Raised alongside his wet nurse's son, Bernardo, Diego becomes friends for life with his "milk brother," despite the boys' class differences. Though born into privilege, Diego has deep ties to California's exploited natives—both through blood and friendship—that account for his abiding sense of justice and identification with the underdog. In Catalonia, these instincts as well as Diego's swordsmanship intrigue Manuel Escalante, a member of the secret society La Justicia. Escalante recruits Diego into the society, which is dedicated to fighting all forms of oppression, and thus begins Diego's construction of his dashing, secret alter ego, Zorro. With loyal Bernardo at his side, Zorro hones his fantastic skills, evolves into a noble hero and returns to California to reclaim his family's estate in a breathtaking duel. All the while, he encounters numerous historical figures, who anchor this incredible tale in a reality that enriches and contextualizes the Zorro myth. Allende's latest page-turner explodes with vivid characterization and high-speed storytelling.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Allende, born in Peru and raised in Chile, now resides in California, and out of her abiding interest in Spanish American and California history and culture, she has fashioned her historical fiction (including the companion novels Daughter of Fortune, 1999, and Portrait in Sepia, 2001). In her latest historical novel, she imaginatively creates, in the words of the narrator, "the origins of the legend"--the legend being none other than Zorro, the famous Robin Hood of eighteenth-century colonial California. The novel's conceit is that the testimony offered here is a bird's-eye view of the provenance of Zorro as recorded by someone who knew him well, but the identity of that person is not revealed until the novel's end. Allende's complete familiarity with setting includes not only the "custom of the country" in Southern California when still in Spanish hands but also the complicated political atmosphere of Spain itself during the Napoleonic era, to which Diego de la Vega is dispatched as a teenager for his formal education. It is in Spain where the physical disguise of Zorro and the social-reform mentality that motivates him first bear adult fruit. (Diego is one-quarter Native American and thus understands the downtrodden.) Allende's mesmerizing narrative voice never loses timbre or flags in either tension or entertainment value. To describe her as a clever novelist is to signify that she is both inventive and intelligent. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful July 7 2005
By kasthu
Format:Audio CD
Forget what you've seen in Hollywood (a la the Mark of Zorro and the Mask of Zorro)- Isabel Allende tells the story of Zorro, or "the fox." Born in 1795 in California of mixed parentage, Diego de la Vega grows up with a thirst to see justice being done. Contact with his Indian grandmother leads Diego and his blood brother Bernardo to undergo the initiation ceremony into that tribe. One of his taks is to perform a feat of bravery in the woods. The sighting of a fox gives Diego the courage to continue with his mission. Many years later, when he becomes a member of the exclusive European secret society called La Justicia, Diego will take the name of Zorro.
Zorro is actually a coming of age story, beginning with Zorro's birth and continuing until he is a young man. Although Diego has a human adversary in the shape of Rafael Moncada, his real struggle is with himself, or the two personalities that he creates for himself: Diego de la Vega, the European-educated aristocrat, and Zorro, the avenger of justice.
No Bildungsroman can be complete without the hero falling in love; while in Barcelona, Diego falls in love with an aristocrat's daughter, Juliana. Her younger, more perceptive sister Isabel is the narrator of this story. California in the early 19th century was the scene of great change and expectation for the people who lived there, and Isabel Allende captures it perfectly.
As other readers have pointed out, the ending is different than the ones created by Hollywood. But I was extremely satisfied with not only the ending, but the entire book in general. Isabel Allende's narrative style is always a joy to read. I highly recommend this book. But try it for yourself. Pick up a copy! Another book I need to recommend -- very much on my mind since I purchased a "used" copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, an odd, highly entertaining little novel I can't stop thinking about
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful July 3 2005
By kasthu
Format:Paperback
Forget what you've seen in Hollywood (a la the Mark of Zorro ad the Mask of Zorro)- Isabel Allende tells the story of Zorro, or "the fox." Born in 1795 in California of mixed parentage, Diego de la Vega grows up with a thirst to see justice being done. Contact with his Indian grandmother leads Diego and his blood brother Bernardo to undergo the initiation ceremony into that tribe. One of his taks is to perform a feat of bravery in the woods. The sighting of a fox gives Diego the courage to continue with his mission. Many years later, when he becomes a member of the exclusive European secret society called La Justicia, Diego will take the name of Zorro.
Zorro is actually a coming of age story, beginning with Zorro's birth and continuing until he is a young man. Although Diego has a human adversary in the shape of Rafael Moncada, his real struggle is with himself, or the two personalities that he creates for himself: Diego de la Vega, the European-educated aristocrat, and Zorro, the avenger of justice.
No Bildungsroman can be complete without the hero falling in love; while in Barcelona, Diego falls in love with an aristocrat's daughter, Juliana. Her younger, more perceptive sister Isabel is the narrator of this story. California in the early 19th century was the scene of great change and expectation for the people who lived there, and Isabel Allende captures it perfectly.
As other readers have pointed out, the ending is different than the ones created by Hollywood. But I was extremely satisfied with not only the ending, but the entire book in general. Isabel Allende's narrative style is always a joy to read. I highly recommend this book. But try it for yourself. Pick up a copy! Another book I need to recommend -- very much on my mind since I purchased a "used" copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, an odd, highly entertaining little novel I can't stop thinking about.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful June 27 2005
By kasthu
Format:Paperback
Forget what you've seen in Hollywood (a la the Mark of Zorro ad the Mask of Zorro)- Isabel Allende tells the story of Zorro, or "the fox." Born in 1795 in California of mixed parentage, Diego de la Vega grows up with a thirst to see justice being done. Contact with his Indian grandmother leads Diego and his blood brother Bernardo to undergo the initiation ceremony into that tribe. One of his taks is to perform a feat of bravery in the woods. The sighting of a fox gives Diego the courage to continue with his mission. Many years later, when he becomes a member of the exclusive European secret society called La Justicia, Diego will take the name of Zorro.
Zorro is actually a coming of age story, beginning with Zorro's birth and continuing until he is a young man. Although Diego has a human adversary in the shape of Rafael Moncada, his real struggle is with himself, or the two personalities that he creates for himself: Diego de la Vega, the European-educated aristocrat, and Zorro, the avenger of justice.
No Bildungsroman can be complete without the hero falling in love; while in Barcelona, Diego falls in love with an aristocrat's daughter, Juliana. Her younger, more perceptive sister Isabel is the narrator of this story. California in the early 19th century was the scene of great change and expectation for the people who lived there, and Isabel Allende captures it perfectly.
As other readers have pointed out, the ending is different than the ones created by Hollywood. But I was extremely satisfied with not only the ending, but the entire book in general. Isabel Allende's narrative style is always a joy to read. I highly recommend this book. But try it for yourself. Pick up a copy! Another book I need to recommend -- very much on my mind since I purchased a "used" copy off Amazon is "The Losers' Club: Complete Restored Edition" by Richard Perez, an odd, highly entertaining little novel I can't stop thinking about.
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