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The House of the Spirits Hardcover – April 12, 1985

4.3 out of 5 stars 493 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Spectacular.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Nothing short of astonishing . . . In The House of the Spirits Isabel Allende has indeed shown us the relationships between past and present, family and nation, city and country, spiritual and political values. She has done so with enormous imagination, sensitivity, and compassion.”—San Francisco Chronicle
  
“A vivid, absorbing work of art . . . [Allende’s] characters are fascinatingly detailed and human.”—People
 
“Extraordinary . . . powerful . . . sharply observant, witty and eloquent.”—The New York Times
 
“Mesmerizing . . . a novel of force and charm.”—The Washington Post

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

Language Notes

Text: English, Spanish (translation)
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; 1st edition (April 12, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394539079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394539072
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (493 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #557,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
The House of Spirits is probably Allende's most famous and important book. In it, she chronicles the life of a family, as the patriarch grows from a child to an elder, with the world changing all around him while he tries to keep it the same. Through the lenses of the Trueba family, we follow the portion of Chilean history that eventually leads to the 1973 coup. Of course, the author is niece of Salvador Allende, the socialist president democratically elected that was removed from power and killed by Pinochet.
The book is based on clashes; old versus young, communists vs conservatives, landlords vs tenants. As the story unfolds, we view the extremist positions that each side takes: landlords attacking tenants, conservatives attacking communists, and vice versa. From the polarization of positions emerges a military dictatorship that no one wanted, but that was a product of the system setup by polarization.
In the end, the distinctions that originally separated young from old, conservatives from communists, are removed, as both sides realize the futility of their disputes in the face on an authoritarian regime.
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By A Customer on September 19, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende's luminous saga of the Trueba family, as seen through the eyes of the women, is more than a wonderful book; it is an ode to the courageous, compassionate and forgiving spirits that all people are capable of becoming. Even after witnessing the horrors of Chilean military oppression, Allende dared to write a novel that denies a basic pessimistic view of humans and instead reveals mankind's capacity to endure suffering and self-transformation for the sake of life, love and justice.
In The House of the Spirits, Allende shows us that the cruelest outbursts of evil and violence of which man is capable are committed during civil war: genocides, mass murders, concentration camps. Man is definitely mankind's greatest enemy. It is truly horrifying to think that the sufferings of Jaime Trueba could be supported by authentic testimony: "They tied their hands and feet with barbed wire and threw them on their faces in the stalls. There Jaime and the others spent two days without food or water, rotting in their own excrement, blood and fear, until they were all driven by truck to an area near the airport. In an empty lot they were shot on the ground because they could no longer stand, and then their bodies were dynamited."
Jaime is just one among many characters who suffers horribly under the military oppression portrayed in The House of the Spirits. Yet, Allende courageously dares to offer hope that reconciliation is possible and that people are capable of much more noble actions and emotions.
In this book, Allende seems to be telling us that evil is not a simple thing and that violent behavior is a complex act. She also portrays every act as having a cause, whether known or unknown.
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By A Customer on February 20, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The House of the Spirits" gives the reader an extraordinary view of 20th century Chilean history. Through the Trueba family and the myriad characters that drift in and out of their lives, we see so many of the elements of the political and class struggle that continues until this day. Beginning with the landowner vs. tenant worker conflict and culminating with the left-wing vs. right-wing political/social conflict, we are given a glimpse into the inner workings of a country in turmoil. We see the horror of the Conservatives when a Marxist government is democratically elected, and their terror when the coup they so finely crafted becomes a dictatorship as terrible as they expected the Communists to be. Neither the left nor the right were winners--only the military.
I lived for several years in Chile during the 1990's. Even though Chile is emerging as a stable, fairly democratic economy, the political struggle remains. I could never grasp the true essence of my Chilean friends' passionate hatred for or passionate support of the Pinochet regime until I read this book. I always marveled that there was no middle ground. Now I understand why.
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By A Customer on October 18, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I watched a young student the other day on the subway reading the House of the Spirits. He slowly rose from his seat when he reached his destination and almost walked into the subway doors as they were closing. I then followed him as he walked down the platfom bumping into people all the way. He could not take his eyes from the pages, even as he walked. I was excited for him because I knew he was in for the ride of his life but I was also jealous because he was experiencing for the first time one of the most dynamic and complex books I have ever read. The incredible Ms. Allende created some of the most remarklable relationships between people in any book; husband and wife, brother and sister, mentor and student -- but the most beautiful and complete relationships are among the phenomenal women in this breathtaking novel. As soon as I finished the novel, I gave a copy to everyone I know who cares about literature. I then read everything that Allende has put between two covers and called a book. I have never been disappointed.
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