9780060797195 / 0060797193






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About the book:

If admirers of the exquisitely talented novelist Isabel Allende had to pick the least likely subject for a novel by her, it would probably be the swashbuckling yarn Zorro. But that's exactly what Allende has tackled, and with her first adult novel since 2001s Portrait in Sepia--and the result (against all the odds) is a conspicuous success.

It is, after all, something of a surprise that Allende proves herself so adept at a novel chronicling the adventures of this masked superhero figure of the old world. In such books as her signature novel The House of the Spirits, the author's territory has been the careful and insightful delineation of human character against richly atmospheric settings. Swashbuckling adventure has hardly been her metiér, but in some ways Zorro proves to be a more successful resurrection of the much-loved tale than the rather self-conscious Antonio Banderas movie incarnation.

Diego de la Vega is a man caught between two societies: he inherits his aristocratic background from his Spanish father, a high-ranking military officer who has become a landowner. His mother, however was a Shosone Indian, and it is from his Indian grandmother that he absorbs Indian ways, while achieving the unparalleled swordsmanship skills of his father. As his country suffers under the yoke of Napoleon's autocratic rule, Diego becomes a member of la Justicia, an underground movement dedicated to the overthrow of the tyrant. He then finds himself called upon to use his warrior skills to deliver those around him--and to confront a deadly rival.

Of necessity, the character drawing here has to be on a larger scale than we are used to from Allende, but she is still able to freight much of her subtle observation into the colourful canvas that is Zorro. Will her long-time admirers be able to accept such a radical change of pace from the author of The House of the Spirits? If they can't, they are doing themselves a disservice--and those addicted to novels of high adventure can add a new title to their lists.--Barry Forshaw

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