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Showing 1-10 of 122 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 192 reviews
VINE VOICEon August 22, 2013
INÉS OF MY SOUL REVIEW

INÉS OF MY SOUL is my first reading of Isabel Allende and it is an eye opener. Allende writes with simple elegance and intriguing imagery, traits I find in short supply in modern literature. Her characterizations are spot on and her scene-setting is flawless. Reading this book will transport you to a time of conflict and cultural dissensions with the effortlessness great writers seem to possess. You will actually sense the time, place, and experiences of sixteenth century Chile and the beginning of the Spanish occupation of the Americas.

Allende describes her work as "realistic literature," inspired by her extraordinary life, her knowledge and fascination with the people of South America, and her ability to transform historical events into images that ring vibrantly in her readers. Inés Suárez is a remarkable heroine, a conquistadora of earthy desires and indomitable strength who never hesitates to perform whatever task is needed to assist in the building of a nation.

The savage natives, already suffering from earlier atrocities from the Spaniards, are fiercely determined to turn aside the invaders. It is astonishing that the intruders, greatly outnumbered, can withstand the privations of the land, the malicious infighting of their leaders, and the horrendous encounters with natives who have no fear and offer no quarter in their vicious skirmishes. The conquistadors, with their armor, heavy swords, and ancient muskets have an advantage but face relentless hordes of natives who are relentless with their unorthodox tactics.

I found Allende's writing to be elegant and highly tasteful, only to be surprised by brief crude descriptions of various sexual situations and animal parts. Inés had lusty cravings, bestowing her sexual favors readily to her husbands and lovers. She was proud of her ability to deny such pleasure to those not entitled, although she admitted allowing her eyes to stray to forbidden places on the naked native men. To those who would attempt to violate her, the iron skillet, knife, or knee was their reward. Inéz speaking of soldiers having "visions of roast pig with an apple in its mouth and a carrot up its a**," jolted me a little, although the translator might have not have been able to find a less jarring rendering.

Allende's listing of reference material used to authenticate the historical facts behind some almost unbelievable information in her book are from Spanish and Chilean sources, unreadable to me and therefore impossible to authenticate. Given Allende's reputation and credibility, I find no need to read them. I don't read most English sources for other books I read either; just tallying up the numbers is good enough for me.

I highly recommend this engaging book. As time permits, I will be checking out her other 20 or so books, looking for another gem.

Schuyler T Wallace
Author of TIN LIZARD TALES
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on January 14, 2016
This is not my favorite Allende book but I was going to Chile and remembered reading it years ago so re ordered to help me understand the background of the development of the country. It was perfect for doing that. It clearly showed the terrible cruelties of Pizzaro and his brothers to the Incas and the rest of the Indians and the bravery and/or greed of the soldiers who accompanied the leaders to subdue the land. That is quite a fascinating story as is the story of Ines, the Spanish woman, who comes to the godforsaken place to search for her missing soldier-husband who deserted her and eventually becomes the first lady of Chile. It is full of harrowing fights between the Indians and Spaniards, tales of bravery and cruelty and tales too amazing to be true. All in all it is an excellent book, especially if you are interested in the history of the area.
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on March 15, 2016
This is an incredible read. The story is about a time and place that I previously knew nothing about, the conquest of Chile. This book is about love, passion, perseverance, and atrocious conflict. The death and war descriptions are very graphic. As a reader, I was made to feel closely connected to the main characters in their joys and struggles. Ines is a heroine to truly admire. She was not perfect, but this story chronicles how she made the best out of many awful circumstances she found herself in. She was a survivor in every sense of the word. This story has everything, love, romance, friendship, abandonment, courage, determination, injustice, horror, violence, you name it. It is a read that you will not forget, the story and the characters will stick with me for a long time.
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on June 28, 2016
Allende seems to have carved out her own style, her own niche genre, she must have a herd of researchers to excavate the true history of the Conquest of the Incas. Though word for word (I ma certain she was not made aware of it) her researchers handed her a line, that coes straight out of an history book on the Conquest of Peru, which I was simultaneously studying, If memory serves, it describes how Indians are chained together and as they display weakness or are dead, their heads are hacked off, and the climb continues. Her wit, creativity and genius far outweighs this minuscule act of borrowing, tough a careful reader must be conscious of it. I ouwld not assert his unless it were true.
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on May 11, 2016
Allende is not really at her forte in writing historical fiction. She's a magic realist at heart. This book begins engagingly enough but infound it tedious as it went on.
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on March 21, 2015
I am an avid fan of Isabel Allende's writing. However, this was not my favorite. It is worth reading and tells the important tale of the settlement of Peru and Chile through the eyes of a notable woman. However, it did not always hold my interest.
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on August 19, 2014
Just finished this book. I love Isabel Allende! And this was a fascinating historical fiction that was about the Spanish conquistadors, (and in this case a woman who was considered to be a conquistadora) in Chile. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that it was a little too bogged down in the battles between the Spanish and the native peoples. I preferred the parts of the book that were more personal, more about Ines herself. Also, it's written from the perspective of this woman as a very old woman trying to write a memoir of her time, and I didn't think that was a great viewpoint. I think I would have preferred third-person instead of first person, especially in the parts where she is going on and on about not being sure if she remembered it right. Still, it was a pretty fascinating look at the way the Spanish conquered the Americas and the way they treated the natives and vice versa. Worth a read, for sure.
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on March 21, 2017
Isabel Allende is one of my favorite authors. Her writing is beautiful and her stories are so well thought out and intricate. I have almost all of her novels.
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on November 23, 2015
Let me make it clear that I'm not a fan of reading novels, but I had to read this for a particular class. Allende tries to bring Ines' story to life, a strong and independent woman who's often forgotten throughout the history books. It tells her story as she, along with various other Spaniards try to conquer the Chilean territory. It took me a while to get into it, but it was a good read in the end.
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on June 6, 2014
I wanted to read this to learn more about a time and place in history I know little about; the conquest of Chile by Spain. I quickly realized I didn't care for the narrative, first-person style. Descriptions of truly brutal, hard-to-forget scenes just seemed so cold - I realize that Ines is a product of her time, but I had a hard time relating to her because she was an active participant in some of the atrocities. The tale of her main romance was exciting and highly readable, but just fizzled out at the end. My favorite character in the tale was Cecelia, Ines' Inca friend, who had some very pithy observations on life. I also wished for a clearer picture of Isabel, Ines' daughter, to whom Ines is relating her story. All in all, the prose was nicely written. Just not my cup of tea.
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