The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
A Novel

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Allende creates a world in which love and war and magic, rape and alchemy and the diseases of chickens are all equally likely...While I didn’t find this book very satisfying, I mostly enjoyed reading it...The writing, as I said, could be pretty good, even in translation, and Allende had a vision that was dark and biting at times.
-Shelf Love

Synopsis

Here, in an astonishing debut by a gifted storyteller, is the magnificent saga of proud and passionate men and women and the turbulent times through which they suffer and triumph. They are the Truebas. And theirs is a world you will not want to leave, and one you will not forget.

Esteban -- The patriarch, a volatile and proud man whose lust for land is legendary and who is haunted by his tyrannical passion for the wife he can never completely possess.

Clara -- The matriarch, elusive and mysterious, who foretells family tragedy and shapes the fortunes of the house of the Truebas.

Blanca -- Their daughter, soft-spoken yet rebellious, whose shocking love for the son of her father's foreman fuels Esteban's everlasting contempt... even as it produces the grandchild he adores.

Alba -- The fruit of Blanca's forbidden love, a luminous bearty, a fiery and willful woman... the family's break with the past and link to the future.
 

About Isabel Allende

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Isabel Allende was born in 1942 in Lima, Peru, the daughter of a Chilean diplomat. When her parents separated, young Isabel moved with her mother to Chile, where she spent the rest of her childhood. She married at the age of 19 and had two children, Paula and Nicolas. Her uncle was Salvador Allende, the president of Chile. When he was overthrown in the coup of 1973, she fled Chile, moving to Caracas, Venezuela. While living in Venezuela, Allende began writing her novels, many of them exploring the close family bonds between women. Her first novel, The House of the Spirits, has been translated into 27 languages, and was later made into a film. She then wrote Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, and The Stories of Eva Luna, all set in Latin America. The Infinite Plan was her first novel to take place in the United States. In Paula, Allende wrote her memoirs in connection with her daughter's illness and death. She delved into the erotic connections between food and love in Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses. In addition to writing books, Allende has worked as a TV interviewer, magazine writer, school administrator, and a secretary at a U.N. office in Chile. She received the 1996 Harold Washington Literacy Award. She lives in California. Her title Maya's Notebook made The New York Times Best Seller List in 2013.
 
Published October 27, 2015 by Atria Books. 498 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy, History, Humor & Entertainment, Romance. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The House of the Spirits
All: 9 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Excellent
on Sep 13 2011

...there's a comfortable, appealing professionalism to Allende's narration, slowly turning the years through the Truebas' passions and secrets and fidelities. She doesn't rush; the characters are clear and sharp...it's uncommonly satisfying--with sturdy, old-fashioned storytelling and a fine array of exotic, historical shadings.

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Examiner

Below average
Reviewed by Ismael Santos on Nov 30 2012

With that out of the way, let me be completely clear: I think this book, for all of its "magical realism" and well-written attributes, does not work in the slightest and wouldn't recommend it to any human being, dead or alive or close to the grave as we all are.

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Book Review Circle

Good
Reviewed by Suchandra Ganguly on Jun 11 2015

I liked the story as I have never read anything like this before. My interest started to fall after the matriarch's death because the story becomes too dragged after that. I enjoyed 70% of the novel for sure; for the rest 30%, I feel it could have been made shorter...The novel ends with a very good message conveyed through the lives of the Truebas.

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Shelf Love

Above average
Reviewed by Jenny on Sep 08 2011

Allende creates a world in which love and war and magic, rape and alchemy and the diseases of chickens are all equally likely...While I didn’t find this book very satisfying, I mostly enjoyed reading it...The writing, as I said, could be pretty good, even in translation, and Allende had a vision that was dark and biting at times.

Read Full Review of The House of the Spirits: A N...

https://www.commonsensemedia.org

Excellent
Reviewed by Barbara Schultz on Mar 23 2014

Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits is epic in its personal and political scope, and in its sheer beauty. Her elegant prose weaves easily between the two different points of view in the book...All of Allende's characters are complex and beautifully realized. This brilliant novel is a great literary achievement on every level...

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Iris on Books

Above average
Reviewed by Iris on Sep 24 2014

There is something about Allende’s style that appeals to me. I flew through the first 100 pages of this book. I found her prose very convincing...in the end I continue to feel that Allende’s worldbuilding and narrative is very convincing...I cannot say I feel head over heels in love with this book, as I expected from those first pages.

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The Novel World

Above average
Reviewed by TheNovelWorld on Sep 06 2012

Despite all the positives about this book, I felt is lagging in a number of the ways. I wasn’t engrossed by Allende’s writing style. It is passive, and at times unbearably descriptive. She has a habit of telling you what’s going to happen to a characters years in advance, so that there is no real suspense in the plot.

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Musings of a Literary Dilettante's Blog

Above average
Reviewed by musingsofaliterarydilettante on Mar 01 2010

Written in flowing, accessible language, it is clear from the opening that Allende is a born story-teller...all I can say is that it is a worthy read and a fairly memorable story, but the problems of execution were a let-down for me...But it is a great debut novel, and strongly persuades that Allende deserves to be read further.

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Small World Reads Blog

Good
Reviewed by Sarah Small on Sep 12 2009

While I loved the novel, I can't imagine teaching it to high schoolers. There are just way too many brothel visits, for starters...This is the kind of novel you live in while you're reading it--the kind that you can't wait to get to each evening. I definitely recommend reading...

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Reader Rating for The House of the Spirits
83%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 559 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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