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Zorro: A Novelby Isabel Allende
When was it decided that literary writers shouldn't write about adventure? Once upon a time authors like Stevenson and Dumas were associated with swashbucklers, now classics, Treasure Island and The Three Musketeers; today they'd be laughed right out of the canon and consigned to the ghetto of cheap paperbacks. With Zorro, Isabel Allende bucks the rules of literary writers by penning a red-blooded adventure novel about the legendary masked avenger. Forget Douglas Fairbanks, George Hamilton, and Antonio Banderas — Allende's Diego de la Vega out-Zorros them all. Packed with white-knuckled duels, sweeping rescues, and pulse-pounding pirate battles, Zorro is a great novel for the wide-eyed child in you — and Allende even adds an unreliable narrator to intrigue the adult side. The result is a terrific summer read that's a guilty pleasure without the guilt.
Synopses & Reviews
A swashbuckling adventure story that reveals for the first time how Diego de la Vega became the masked man we all know so well.
Born in southern California late in the eighteenth century, he is a child of two worlds. Diego de la Vega's father is an aristocratic Spanish military man turned landowner; his mother, a Shoshone warrior. Diego learns from his maternal grandmother, White Owl, the ways of her tribe while receiving from his father lessons in the art of fencing and in cattle branding. It is here, during Diego's childhood, filled with mischief and adventure, that he witnesses the brutal injustices dealt Native Americans by European settlers and first feels the inner conflict of his heritage.
At the age of sixteen, Diego is sent to Barcelona for a European education. In a country chafing under the corruption of Napoleonic rule, Diego follows the example of his celebrated fencing master and joins La Justicia, a secret underground resistance movement devoted to helping the powerless and the poor. With this tumultuous period as a backdrop, Diego falls in love, saves the persecuted, and confronts for the first time a great rival who emerges from the world of privilege.
Between California and Barcelona, the New World and the Old, the persona of Zorro is formed, a great hero is born, and the legend begins. After many adventures — duels at dawn, fierce battles with pirates at sea, and impossible rescues — Diego de la Vega, a.k.a. Zorro, returns to America to reclaim the hacienda on which he was raised and to seek justice for all who cannot fight for it themselves.
"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. Agent, Gloria Gutierrez at Agencia Literaria Carmen Balcells (Spain)." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"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." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Allende's tale risks but resists descending into melodrama at every turn. The up-to-date, even postmodern ending makes for a nice touch, too, and will gladden the heart of anyone ready in his or her heart to carve a few Zs into the bad guys." Kirkus Reviews
"One of those rare and perfect matches of subject and author....A picaresque novel with postmodern flourishes...the sinfully entertaining Zorro is serious fiction masked as a swashbuckler." Chicago Sun-Times
"Rippling with humor and energized with a storyline so robust that it swings from the chandeliers, Zorro is great fun....[A] big, sprawling story, superbly told. Allende...succeeds in breathing new life into this decades-old character..." Miami Herald
"While reading Zorro...you are sure that you are enjoying the story of the best kind of hero....So you turn the pages, cheering on the masked man. You love him. You want him. But then Allende nudges you, and you aren't quite so sure." Los Angeles Times
"Allende is a beguiling storyteller, and Zorro provides a rich palate for her customary embellishments." Library Journal
"This is a full-blooded retelling of the old masked-man legend, and it crackles with action." Fort Worth Star-Telegram
In this swashbuckling adventure, the author of My Invented Country reveals for the first time how Diego de la Vega became the masked man of legendary fame.
About the Author
Born in Peru, Isabel Allende was raised in Chile. She is the author of the novels Portrait in Sepia, Daughter of Fortune, The Infinite Plan, Eva Luna, Of Love and Shadows, and The House of the Spirits, the short story collection The Stories of Eva Luna, the memoir Paula, and Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses. City of the Beasts is her first novel for young readers. She lives in California.
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