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The House of the Spirits: A Novel Paperback – August 30, 2005
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“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
About the Author
Born in Peru, Isabel Allende is Chilean. She was a journalist for many years and began to write fiction in 1981. The result was the worldwide bestseller The House of the Spirits, which was followed by the equally successful Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, The Stories of Eva Luna, and Daughter of Fortune. Long a resident of Caracas, she now makes her home in San Rafael, California.
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Despite what I have written above, this is not some polemic on economics and sociology. It is a beautifully written, well-translated, character-driven novel that will hold your attention right to the end. As with other books by Allende that I have read, she is a master of the sweeping narrative that makes you see the larger picture through the eyes of specific characters. Her ability to describe people and places is unmatched - an enchanting and colorful style without being overwrought.
"The House of the Spirits" was Allende's first major work, but it already showed her ability to spin a yarn that will keep reader engaged right up to the end.
Isabel Allende's stunning saga, The House of the Spirits, spans three generations of the Chilean Trueba family ending a few years after the government overthrow led by General Pinochet, the abhorrent right-wing dictator who, with the support of the US gov't, seized the chance opened by fears that the country would be taken over by Marxists.
Ms. Allende', who should soon be Chile's 3d Nobel Laureate in Literature, wrote the novel based loosely on her own family and nation. The novel's fictional characters and events follow closely the lives and times of Chile, Pinochet and Salvadore Allende, her first cousin, once removed, and Chile's socialist president at the time of the coup d'etat. Reports conflict over whether he was assassinated or committed suicide shortly after the coup commenced.
Incidentally, Chile's last Nobel Laureate (1971) was the famous poet Pablo Neruda, who died from poisoning 2 weeks after the coup, as some believe upon Pinochet's orders due to Neruda's support of Marxist politicians. Allende's fictional Neruda counterpart died under suspicious circumstances and his funeral is a significant event in the novel, as civilians on both the left and the right were severely shaken by his death, which foreshadowed several more years of a ruthless, murderous military regime.
Ms. Allende's prose is both graceful and readily comprehensible, as she chronicles a captivating, concinnous tale chiseled in history and filled with passions inflamed by family, politics and power, love and lust, malevolence and mysticism.
PS: I've never seen the film starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons, but I know it received bad reviews. Little wonder though, this novel is too broad in scope to satisfactorily cover in a 2, 3 or even 4 hour film. I won't be at all surprised if someone like Netflix or AmazonPrime picks up the rights and makes The House of the Spirits into a mini-series like Narco, House of Cards, and The Man in the High Castle. If it doesn't happen, it should. The divergence of South American mysticism, the time (the early 70s), the passion of 2 love affairs and the politics (communists v. a right-wing military takeover/dictatorship) is just too fertile not to captivate an even larger audience in video form.