I learned more about Chile, Chinese culture and the California gold rush than I have having read history books in school. Allende was not only informative but it was all detailed and beautifully told. I love how richly developed her characters are but I also found this a bit of a flaw as it took an enormous portion of the book developing what I thought became too many main ones. Which quite frankly led the latter part of the book into a bit of a mess.I know Eliza was meant to be the center of the story but Tao Chi'en stole most of my attention. It was wonderful to see him grow and adapt emotionally and become a caring and compassionate person as it was to see Eliza develop. If this is a good indication of Allende's level of writing and detail then I look forward to seeing more of her.