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Portrait in Sepia: A Novel
 
 
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Portrait in Sepia: A Novel [Bargain Price] [Paperback]

Isabel Allende
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Isabel Allende has established herself as one of the most consummate of all modern storytellers, a reputation that is confirmed in her novel Portrait in Sepia. Allende offers a compelling saga of the turbulent history, lives, and loves of late 19th-century Chile, drawing on characters from her earlier novels, The House of Spirits and Daughter of Fortune.

In typical Allende fashion, Portrait in Sepia is crammed with love, desire, tragedy, and dark family secrets, all played out against the dramatic backdrop of revolutionary Chile. Our heroine Aurora del Valle's mother is a Chilean-Chinese beauty, while her father is a dissolute scion of the wealthy and powerful del Valle family. At the heart of Aurora's slow, painful re-creation of her childhood towers one of Allende's greatest fictional creations, the heroine's grandmother, Paulina del Valle. An "astute, bewigged Amazon with a gluttonous appetite," Paulina holds both the del Valle family and Allende's novel together as she presides over Aurora's adolescence in a haze of pastries, taffeta, and overweening love.

One of the most interesting aspects of the novel is Allende's decision to turn her heroine into a photographer: "through photography and the written word I try desperately to conquer the transitory nature of my existence, to trap moments before they evanesce, to untangle the confusion of my past." There is little confusion in Allende's elegantly crafted and hugely enjoyable novel. --Jerry Brotton, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

HIn this third work concerning the various and intertwining lives of members of a Chilean family, Allende uses the metaphor of photography as memory. "Each of us chooses the tone for telling his or her own story; I would like to choose the durable clarity of a platinum print, but nothing in my destiny possesses that luminosity. I live among diffuse shadings, veiled mysteries, uncertainties; the tone for telling my life is closer to that of a portrait in sepia," declares Aurora del Valle, protagonist of the tale. Here, Allende picks up where 1999's Daughter of Fortune left off, and, in the course of her chronicles, mentions personages who were realized in her 1987 masterpiece, House of the Spirits. Like her other novels, Portrait in Sepia spans nearly 50 years and covers wars, love affairs, births, weddings and funerals. Rich and complex, this international, turn-of-the-century saga does not disappoint. The book opens as 30-year-old Aurora remembers her own birth, in the Chinatown of 1880 San Francisco. She tells of those present: her maternal, Chilean-English grandmother, Eliza; her grandfather Tao (a Chinese medic); and her mother, Lynn, a beloved beauty who dies during Aurora's birth. Realizing she is getting ahead of herself, Aurora backtracks, inviting the reader to be patient and listen to the events surrounding her life, from 1862 to 1910. Through Aurora, Allende exercises her supreme storytelling abilities, of which strong, passionate characters are paramount. Most memorable is Aurora's paternal grandmother, Paulina del Valle, an enormous woman who eats pastries and runs her trading company with equally reckless abandon. Like Paulina, Allende attacks her subject with gusto, making this a grand installment in an already impressive repertoire. Major ad/promo; 7-city author tour.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

If you liked The House of the Spirits and Daughter of Fortune, you will no doubt love Allende's new work, which completes the trilogy. Here, young Aurora de Valle strains against her restrictive upbringing.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

This is a sequel to the author's best-selling and critically applauded Daughter of Fortune (1999), but it falls a little short of attaining that novel's artistry and accessibility. But no book by Allende is anything less than enjoyable. Once again, she artfully and authentically evokes the nineteenth century in her native Chile and in California, her current residence. In Chile, it is a time of economic expansion as well as war. Chile is skirmishing with neighboring Peru and Bolivia and is also enmeshed in civil war. In California, these are the post-gold rush days, and San Francisco teems and thrives. The previous novel introduced readers to Eliza Sommers, who was adopted as a child by two residents of the British colony in the Chilean city of Valparaiso. Raised in privileged circumstances, Eliza nevertheless got pregnant and followed her lover to California. Now, in the sequel, Allende takes up the threads of the story to weave the tale of Aurora del Valle, Eliza's granddaughter. Aurora grew up unclear about certain major details of her life--for instance, the true identity of her father--but eventually the pieces she needs to know to understand her heritage fall into place. Although the plot is not as compelling as in the previous novel, Portrait in Sepia is still an atmospheric, character-rich historical yarn. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Rich and complex ... Allende exercises her supreme storytelling abilities ... a grand installment in an already impressive repertoire." (Publishers Weekly (* Starred Review *) )

"Complex, intriguing, ambitious . it's Allende's remarkable flair for character that makes it all come alive." (Kirkus )

"Portrait in Sepia is rich with color and emotion and packed with intriguing characters." (San Francisco Chronicle )

From the Back Cover

In nineteenth-century Chile, Aurora del Valle suffers a brutal trauma that erases all recollections of the first five years of her life. Raised by her regal and ambitious grandmother Paulina del Valle, Aurora grows up in a privileged environment but is tormented by horrible nightmares. When she is forced to recognize her betrayal at the hands of the man she loves, and to cope with the resulting solitude, she explores the mystery of her past.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel Allende is the author of eight novels, including, most recently, Zorro, Portrait in Sepia, and Daughter of Fortune. She has also written a collection of stories; three memoirs, including My Invented Country and Paula; and a trilogy of children's novels. Her books have been translated into more than twenty-seven languages and have become bestsellers across four continents. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Isabel Allende lives in California.


Nacida en PerÚ y criada en Chile, Isabel Allende es la autora de nueve novelas incluyendo mÁs recientemente Zorro, Retrato en Sepia, Hija de la Fortuna e InÉs del Alma MÍa. TambiÉn ha escrito cuentos cortos, tres libros autobiogrÁficos incluyendo Mi PaÍs Inventado y Paula, y una trilogÍa de libros para jÓvenes. Sus libros han sido traducidos a mÁs de 27 idiomas y son bestsellers a travÉs del mundo entero. En 2004, fue nombrada a la Academia de Artes y Letras de los Estados Unidos. Vive en California.

From AudioFile

This epic novel sweeps across time and the Americas, keeping the listener riveted every step of the way. Blair Brown, a natural narrator, gives an ideal performance as she relates the tale of Aurora del Valle, a young woman who tries to reassemble her past in order to face the future. The story begins essentially two generations earlier, with characters who journey from Chile to San Francisco and back again. The listener meets endearing, engaging, and unique characters who all play a role in Aurora's upbringing. Brown captures the humor, tragedy, and drama of the novel with great style, mastering the wide variety of accents without intruding on the story. This audiobook is a wonderful package--an engrossing novel read by a master performer! L.B.F. © AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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