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The House of the Spirits: A Novel Paperback – December 15, 2015
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“Spectacular…An absorbing and distinguished work…The House of the Spirits with its all-informing, generous, and humane sensibility, is a unique achievement, both personal witness and possible allegory of the past, present, and future of Latin America.” (Alexander Coleman New York Times Book Review)
“Both an engrossing narrative and an impassioned testimony to the people of Chile… Allende has her own distinctive voice [with] a whimsical charm…Richly and meticulously detailed.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A strong, absorbing Chilean family chronicle, plushly upholstered—with mystical undercurrents." (Kirkus Reviews)
“There are few trips more thrilling than those taken in the imagination of a brilliant novelist. That experience is available in The House of the Spirits … The characters, their joys and their anguish, could not be more contemporary or immediate.” (Cosmopolitan)
“Allende’s writing is so inventive, funny, and persuasive that in the process of creating a stimulating political novel she has also created a vivid, absorbing work of art. Her characters are fascinatingly detailed and human.” (People)
“An alluring, sometimes magical tale…In its tumultuous story of rebellion and love among three generations, it is an allegory in which any family should be able to recognize a bit of itself.” (The Wall Street Journal)
“Nothing short of astonishing… 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)
“Moving and powerful…Her novel captivates and holds the reader throughout…The House of the Spirits is full of marvelous and unforgettable women who add a special dimension to the book.” (The Christian Science Monitor)
“The only cause The House of the Spirits embraces is that of humanity, and it does so with such passion, humor, and wisdom that in the end it transcends politics…The result is a novel of force and charm, spaciousness and vigor.” (Jonathan Yardley The Washington Post)
“Compelling…A splendid and fantastic meditation on a people and a nation.” (Booklist)
"Allende is a talented writer who deftly uses the techniques of magical realism but also shows great sensitivity in the delineation of character.” (Library Journal)
“A novelof force and charm, spaciousness and vigor.” (The Washington Post)
“Spectacular…Anabsorbing and distinguished work…A novel of peace and reconciliation...The House of the Spirits, withits all-informing, generous, and humane sensibility, is a unique achievement,both personal witness and possible allegory of the past, present, and future ofLatin America.” (The New York Times Book Review)
“Analluring, sometimes magical tale… in its tumultuous story of rebellion and loveamong three generations, it is an allegory in which any family should be ableto recognize a bit of itself.” (The Wall Street Journal)
“A vivid, absorbing work of art . . . [Allende’s] characters are fascinatingly detailed and human.” (People)
“Nothingshort of astonishing.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“Magnificent…Imaginative and compelling…A trulyenchanting world where hope is never lost.” (Detroit News)
Text: English, Spanish (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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.
To a large extent, Allende "out-Marquezes" Gabriel Marquez. His One Hundred Years of Solitude (P.S.) follows a similar theme, and is written in a similar genre (magical realism.) However, I found _The House of the Spirits_ both easier to read and much more interesting. There are supernatural elements of the story, especially within the house of which book is titled, as Clara (a del Valle daughter, and wife of Trueba) sees and speaks to spirits. But the book is much more than a genre piece - it is the narrative of continent, as the del Valle's (and Trueba's) struggles are a microcosom of Latin America: the conflict between liberals and conservatives, the endemic generations of fatherless children, the passion of youth and forbidden love across social classes, the tendency (especially in the 20th century) towards fascism and dictatorship. It is both beautiful and tragic, much like South America itself.
The scope and scale of the book alone would warrant high marks; that it is so lyrically written gives it 5 stars. A lesser story written with such ardor would also earn 5 stars from me. For example, writing of the political chaos that so often wracks that part of the world, she writes, "She did not understand the state of civil war, not did she realizt that war is the soldier's work of art, the administration of all their training, the gold medal of their profession. Soldiers are not made to shine in times of peace. ..." Allende, however has a messge for her countrymen, and finishes the book on a positive note with hope for the future, although perhaps with a bitter-sweet tone. Without spoiling the story, Allende tells us "It would be difficult ... to avenge all those who should be avenged, because ... revenge would just be another part of the same inexorable rite. (We) have to break that terrible chain."
_The House of the Spirits_ was the first book about the del Valle family, the saga which continues (through other branches of the family) in Daughter of Fortune: A Novel (P.S.) and Portrait in Sepia, although these are set earlier in time. While I immensely enjoyed these others, far and away _The House of the Spirits_ is my favorite. Enthusiastically recommended.