Allende’s latest historical fiction novel follows two young Spanish people as they flee the Spanish Civil War in 1938. Roser is a pregnant widow; Victor is the brother of her deceased lover. Their flight to the French border is harrowing. Eventually they are chosen by the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda to immigrate to Chile but must be married to qualify for the journey. Thus, a long caring relationship is initiated in a new country. A replay of the Spanish Civil War conflict is encountered by the military overthrow of the Allende government in 1973, another battle between freedom and repression. After a 12-year exile in Venezuela, Roser and Victor return to Chile which is their true home. This is an epic story told with Allende’s typical lucidity.
A winter storm in New York brings together three distinctive characters: an American man nearly destroyed by grief and guilt; a Chilean woman survivor of the Allende aftermath in the 1970s; and a young undocumented woman from Guatemala. A fairly simplistic plot device allows the compelling back stories to emerge with Allende’s characteristic story-telling which is evocative. Each of the three characters has experienced tragic and sorrowful events, and yet there is hopefulness in a story contains unexpected romance and love. Allende is a treasure, and this novel is a very worthwhile read.
A story of inter-woven lives, mostly in San Francisco: a young woman from Moldova, a Polish woman who escaped from Germany in 1939; a Japanese gardener interned during WWII. There is a powerful love story, what love can overcome and what love cannot overcome. As always, Allende’s writing is beautiful – an example from the end of the book: “In the darkest hour of the night, that mysterious hour when time thins and often the veil between this wold and that of the spirits is drawn back, the guest Alma was waiting for arrived at last”.
This was Allende’s first novel, published in 1982, and it represents outstanding story telling. The characters are all so vivid: the mercurial Esteban with his legendary temper; three generations of strong women – Clara (a delightful clairvoyant), Blanca and Alba. The story, of course, shows the evolution of the Chilean tragedy; the last 100 pages gives a brutal account of the coup with all the violence, lies and deceit. A great read.