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Zorro: A Novel Paperback – Apr 25 2006
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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.
*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.
Top Customer Reviews
C’est d’abord la vie en Californie du sud, alors colonie espagnole et les rapports entre les Espagnols (les maitres) et les indiens (les colonisés). Zorro étant né d’un père espagnol et d’une mère indienne, il se trouve donc déchiré entre deux mondes. Une belle description de la vie « coloniale » et de ses préjugés variés.
Puis c’est le départ pour Barcelone pour parfaire son éducation. Le roi d’Espagne vient d’être destitué et remplacé par un roi français parachuté par Napoléon. La religion catholique est la seule autorisée et règne en toute puissance. Avec Zorro, on vit dans un monde « underground » luttant pour le retour du roi espagnol et naviguant dans les coulisses de l’Église.
Le retour en Californie est assez rocambolesque – Zorro voyage à travers l’Espagne avec un groupe de gitans qui, comme par hasard, se trouve sur sa route, puis, grâce à une bonne fortune, retrouve le commandant du bateau sur lequel il est venu.
Zorro est le prétexte d’une fresque historique de l’Espagne et de ses colonies du début du XIXième siècle. Le livre se lit facilement, le style est alerte, le contenu intéressant. Un bon divertissement.
As a youngster, the masked avenger of right aspect of Zorro was the obvious surface story. But beneath the humorous tales leading up to dramatic swordplay and escapes, there were serious themes of civic responsibility, the requirement to follow one's conscience rather than one's self interest, and something much finer than vigilante action. It was easy, however, to see who Zorro was . . . and the dual nature of being a fluttery dandy in public and a fierce righter of wrong behind a mask added to the story's appeal. But how did Zorro get to be that way? I could never figure that out.
In this novel, Isabel Allende takes the fictional hero and makes him even larger than the "fictional life" by providing heroic antecedents for his adult activities. I was impressed by how seriously she took every aspect of the adult fictional character . . . and how well she wove in themes such as feminism, racial justice, and the coming-of-age desire to make something of oneself. Although it's an origin story that I would never have imagined on my own, the story fits my sense of the adult Zorro.
I don't have very high expectations for fictional origin novels. This one vastly exceeded what I could have hoped to find. I thought that it was more interesting than the original stories. Very nice.
I had the distinct pleasure of listening to the unabridged CD version by Blair Brown, which I highly recommend. Ms. Brown's reading brings liveliness to the story that my own reading would not have equaled.
Brava, Ms. Allende and Ms. Brown!
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
Most recent customer reviews
Isabel Allende writes with an effortless flow. Her action is enthralling, her drama captivating. Allende carves out a ZORRO who is romantic and historical, but one who exhibits... Read morePublished on July 11 2005 by Dylan Westwood
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. Read morePublished on July 3 2005 by kasthu
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. Read morePublished on June 27 2005 by kasthu
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. Read morePublished on June 23 2005 by kasthu