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Portrait in Sepia: A Novel Paperback – May 2, 2006
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The Amazon Book Review
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In typical Allende fashion, Portrait in Sepia is crammed with love, desire, tragedy, and dark family secrets, all played out against the dramatic backdrop of revolutionary Chile. Our heroine Aurora del Valle's mother is a Chilean-Chinese beauty, while her father is a dissolute scion of the wealthy and powerful del Valle family. At the heart of Aurora's slow, painful re-creation of her childhood towers one of Allende's greatest fictional creations, the heroine's grandmother, Paulina del Valle. An "astute, bewigged Amazon with a gluttonous appetite," Paulina holds both the del Valle family and Allende's novel together as she presides over Aurora's adolescence in a haze of pastries, taffeta, and overweening love.
One of the most interesting aspects of the novel is Allende's decision to turn her heroine into a photographer: "through photography and the written word I try desperately to conquer the transitory nature of my existence, to trap moments before they evanesce, to untangle the confusion of my past." There is little confusion in Allende's elegantly crafted and hugely enjoyable novel. --Jerry Brotton, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
In many ways, this novel is less of a story than a portrait of characters that have largely appeared elsewhere in her fiction, although it's not necessary to have read these other books. The emphasis is unequivocably on the del Valles, with Paulina del Valle the most memorable. Paulina is the glue that holds everything together. Other characters, equally well drawn, appear strongly in some sections, then vanish into the background, thus shifting the attention back to Paulina. Not surprisingly, the most elusive character is the narrator, Aurora, who is also the photographer, both literally and metaphorically. The story is filtered through her lens - her experience, perceptions, and ideas.
The "sepia" part of the title refers to the historical/nostalgic atmosphere of the novel. Allende takes her characters through the San Francisco of Gold Rush times and through turbulent times in Chile during war and the rise of women's rights. Here, everything is a memory.
The plot? The novel traces Aurora del Valle's life, from the times leading up to her conception to the moment when, as an adult, she is given back the crucial memory that has subconsciously defined her. You won't find a single driving conflict here; even Aurora's perplexity about her mysterious dream surfaces only now and then.Read more ›
Given that this book was translated from another language, I expected it to be dry and without detail. I was very wrong!! This book is full of detail, but not of the boring, unnecessary kind. It is pretty easy to follow, and I read it quickly. This book kept me interested from the first page to the last, and already I want to read it again!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This novel seemed to me two separate stories patched together: the late 19th century San Francisco and the revolutions and estancia class of Chile. Either one works by itself. Read morePublished 21 days ago by ReadingEnthusiast
She is s very talented writer be I felt like I could see the characters right in front of me. Very good story.Published 1 month ago by Barbara E. Roybal
To thoroughly appreciate this cast of characters, I re-read Dauhgter of Fortune, which I first read many years and mny books ago. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jane Murdock
I loved the fact that it linked the characters of Allende's previous books Daughter of Fortune and The House of the Spirits. Read morePublished 4 months ago by azrover
Great read, very enjoyable, but no memorable.
After 7 years of having read this book all I can remember is a witty girl that narrates, some train, tons of family history. Read more
Awesome, as always, Isabel Allende. God bless her storytelling talent!!!Published 5 months ago by Marlene Mancina
"In the end, the only thing we have in abundance is the memory we have woven. Each of us chooses the tone for telling his or her own story; I would like to choose the durable... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Melissa N.