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The Sum of Our Days: A Memoir Paperback – January 6, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Allende follows Paula, the heartbreaking memoir she wrote while her daughter lay in a long coma, with another missive to the young woman, now dead, to update her on the Allende clan's adventures and dramas, which often seem straight from her novels. For most of the narration, Brown's bright voice and careful delivery are an ideal conduit for Allende's renowned prose, working in tandem with the author's unique descriptions to make interesting what in other lives would hardly be remarkable. When speaking as Allende, she uses a husky Spanish accent that is distinctively charming and appropriate without going over the top. Brown's pronunciation of occasional Spanish phrases and names sometimes lack fluency but the frank, twangy voice she gives to Allende's friend Tabra is refreshingly at ease. By the end, even listeners who are unfamiliar with Allende's history and writing will feel they know this feisty woman and brilliant writer as a friend. A Harper hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 18).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Booklist

In this sequel to her memoir Paula (1995), about the year-long coma suffered by her daughter, Chilean novelist Allende tells of the difficult years following Paula’s death. She makes a transformative journey in these pages, from the moving opening chapter, in which the grief-stricken author and her family scatter Paula’s ashes in the forest, to the final rewarding coda, where she is able to once again experience contentment and gratitude for the abundance in her life. Framing her story around her family, and directly addressing her daughter throughout, Allende reveals herself in all her roles: feisty marital partner, intrusive mother, dedicated writer, and spiritual seeker. She takes great comfort from her wide circle of support, a loosely connected network she refers to as her tribe, which provides her with the “three-ring circus material” she needs for her writing. Among the many personal revelations she makes here are her daughter-in-law’s discovery that she is gay, which broke up her marriage to Allende’s son and launched the author into a laborious matchmaking process to help him remarry, and her own imbibing of a hallucinogenic tea, which subsequently helped awaken her imagination during the writing of her children’s books. Surprisingly candid, frequently funny, and highly aware of her own failings, Allende is a person fully engaged in life, and readers will find her eloquent memoir inspirational reading. --Joanne Wilkinson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (January 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061551848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061551840
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #350,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More 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.

My thoughts on Kindle en Español:

"El impacto de los libros electrónicos es formidable y está remeciendo a la industria del libro tanto como a los lectores. Aunque todavía la idea es relativamente nueva en español, ya se ha extendido en otras lenguas tan dramáticamente, que muchos autores nuevos publican en versión digital, saltándose a las editoriales. Confieso que soy adicta a mis Kindle y mi IPad, donde leo con letra grande y clara, en una pantalla liviana. Antes viajaba con una maleta de libros, ahora llevo mi biblioteca en la cartera y puedo adquirir nuevos libros en cualquier parte del mundo en pocos segundos. Dicen que los jóvenes le tienen miedo al papel y no tienen el hábito de leer - lo cual no es totalmente cierto - pero ahora pueden leer en sus pantallas. También dicen que la ficción desaparecerá, pero eso jamás ocurrirá, porque la humanidad necesita historias tanto como necesita oxígeno. Tal vez en el futuro el libro, ese compañero maravilloso, será un objeto de coleccionistas y de bibliotecas y nosotros, simples mortales, leeremos en pantallas. Pero seguiremos leyendo, de eso no tengo dudas." Isabel Allende

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Sum Of Our Days is a family memoir based on Allende's idea that her deceased daughter Paula would want to know what has happened to the family since she died. Lacking in pretense and affectation, The Sum Of Our Days is an honest portrait of an unusual family, full of interest and charm.

Told through a series of short stories that could be letters to Paula's ghost (and were in fact culled from letters Allende wrote to her mother in Chile), The Sum Of Our Days describes a family that has survived drug addiction, death, betrayal and divorce to celebrate birth, travel, friendship and love. The heavy subject matter has been blessed with perspective and humor courtesy of time.

It's difficult to write about triumphing in hard times and not sound pompous or self-righteous. But who would lie to their deceased daughter? It's a clever way to tell a family story and the result for the reader is a good story well told.

This book is also available in the original Spanish version.
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Format: Hardcover
Wow, what a rollicking read. I kept having to remind myself that this was a memoir and not one of Allende's novels. Lesser women would have crawled into a hole having lived through the tragedy and day to day uproar of her life, but Isabel Allende just keeps drawing the hurt and struggling into her family circle and that extended family supports each other and moves forward together. She is truly a matriarch who, as she admits, sometimes needs to be reined in a bit.

Sometimes she needs to reach outside the family for support. That is when the "sisters of disorder" step in.

"Though I had just met her, I told her what was happening with you.
"We are going to pray for your daughter and for you", she told me. A
month later she invited me to her 'prayer circle,' and that is how
these new friends came to accompany me during your agony and death...
and continue to comfort me today. For me it is a sisterhood sealed in
heaven. Every woman in this world should have such a circle of
friends. Each of us is witness to the others; lives; we keep secrets,
help in difficulties, share experiences, and stay in almost daily
contact by e-mail. However far I may be traveling, I always have my
lie to terra firma: my sisters of disorder."

This book is a testament to the power of love of every kind. It is a gift to read.
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By Linda on August 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Like most reviewers, I've enjoyed Allende's previous works, and I spent most of a Sunday afternoon wrapping up this latest offering. I can feel my furrowed brow as I type, because I don't know what to make of it. I enjoyed reading about the various members of Allende's "tribe" and at times wished I could join them. At other times I felt like the book was an infomercial. Clearly Allende is justifiably proud of her friends and family's accomplishments--her friend Tabra's jewelry business (I'll probably make a purchase shortly), her former daughter-in-law's Marin County mountain bike tour company, her husband's novels.

Allende also discusses her frequent travels around the globe with family members--annual trips to Chile to her mother, an African safari with her grandchildren, a trip to India with her husband and Tabra. I suspect the average reader can only dream of such adventures; am I envious? Allende and her husband can afford to be financially generous to their large family, and they obviously enjoy sharing their good fortune, but for a reason I still can't put my finger on, broadcasting that fact to devoted readers just smacked of Oprah to me.

Other reviewers had mentioned that they felt the book was written in haste, and poorly edited. Passages like this one simply didn't ring true for me: "I had shrunk an inch [she's 5 feet tall] and the body lolling in the water was that of a mature woman who had never been a beauty." I'm sure anyone who has seen photos of Ms. Allende would agree that she's stunning and quite beautiful. Had she been unattractive, I suspect her career might not have been as successful as it is.

I'm sure I'll be editing my review once I've given it more thought. For now, I agree with other reviewers that The Sum of Our Lives is not the best introduction to Allende's wonderful body of work. Start with House of the Spirits and work your way up through her earlier works to the current offering.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
the sum of our days is an experience like no other. firstly, to belong to any family is tricky business, but to belong to , for the brief magical time one is reading this enchanted memoir, this family, or more accurately, as isabel calls her loved ones, this TRIBE, is to experience an open minded, willing, adventurous, and unfailingly faithful family. from the moment one begins this book, a journey of sheer recognizalbe living begins. nothing is held back, yet not a single mean spirited word is written. it is truth, the truth about those who are loved above all others, family and those friends who are chosen family.
she writes with such passion, loyalty, color, humor, wit, intelligence, intuition, and i only know, when i finished the book this morning, having eeked it out over the recent two days because i never ever wanted to be parted from this woman's daring, wise, funny, sexy, proud,vulnerable and tender outlook, i cried and cried....it was like losing the day to day connection to a rare and irresistble spirit, as well her cherished loved ones who are painted with such detail and honoring, and felt in a most distant way, in a small way, what it is like like for anyone to lose a most precious loved one. it loss to ever finish an isable allende book, but, perhaps, thisone more than any other. who else is like isabel allende? how can one go on with everyday life when separted from her writing?? she almost ruins everyday living with her beautiful life force and questing strength.
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