Cover Image: A Long Petal of the Sea

A Long Petal of the Sea

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Member Reviews

This was a great book and brought me from the civil war in Spain to Chile and all the political turmoil it went through in the 20th century. Isabelle Allende gives great insight into Chilean family,society and politics were like. Overall I loved it as i have all of her books.
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The Long Petal of the Sea is a history lesson about the Spanish Civil War and the political history of Chile. The book was very well written, well paced and well plotted. Although a lot of historical context is given, it is accessible to someone who has no knowledge of the eras, places or historical figures discussed. I selected this book because I wanted to learn more about the Spanish Civil War. This book not only satisfied my curiosity but also clarified how various South American countries are related to Spain, politically and culturally. I will be recommending this to all fans of historical fiction.
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This was another great book by Isabel Allende. I loved the historical time that was evolving in the story and the family that it centered around made it a beautiful setting. There were many trials and tribulations through the story that weaved into a great family drama. I felt all kinds of emotions reading this and thought that the ending was beautiful and wrapped up a families lives that was lived during turbulent times. I love historical fiction and this one did not disappoint. Thank you so much for the wonderful opportunity of reading this book.
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Isabel Allende delivers another sweeping work of historical fiction in A Long Petal of the Sea. This book focuses on the Spanish Civil War, which is an era that I was less familiar with, so I appreciated the opportunity to learn more. It follows a family between Spain, Chile, and Venezuela. 

Many thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.
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A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA was my first novel by Allende and I can see why people love her. Allende is a brilliant storyteller and the story starts during the context of Spanish Civil War. Filled with plenty of politics, this book is a dense read that you will have to progress slowly. The writing is exquisite, painting vivid images that I usually forgot that this is a work of fiction. Allende has a gift of developing characters with such a craft and complexity like no other - while I found Victor and Roser very memorable, there were different moments that I felt connected and not with them. I thought that the political background often took away my focus from the characters and I felt distant in some parts of the novel.

That being said, I loved how masterfully Allende interweaves imaginative story with historical events, introducing Pablo Neruda into the story. I also learned a great amount of historical facts and found them interesting. Towards the end, the melancholic tone made me feel a lot of emotions, finishing with a hopeful message.
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Bestselling and beloved author Isabel Allende returns with an ambitious and epic novel spanning generations, continents and the full spectrum of human emotion.

Beginning in Spain in the year 1938, A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA immerses readers into the heart of the Spanish Civil War, which was fought between Republicans devoted to the left and aligned with anarchists and communists, and the Nationalists, a group comprising conservatives, monarchists and the devoutly religious. Much like America’s own Civil War, the Spanish Civil War divided communities, friends and even family members. In Allende’s gripping tale, it is the Dalmau family that gives readers a “boots on the ground” view of the true horrors and catastrophes of Spain’s war. We meet brothers Victor and Guillem, both on the frontlines, but with very different skill sets: Victor is an accomplished doctor known for his stoicism and patience, whereas Guillem is a fighter through and through.

During the course of the war, an accomplished young pianist boarding with the Dalmaus becomes pregnant with Guillem’s child --- a union treasured and upheld by the family. But when the war takes a devastating and life-altering turn, and it becomes apparent that the Republicans will lose everything, it is Victor who intertwines his life with Roser’s, setting off an unforgettable course of events written as only Allende could write them: with heart, intuition and a deep love for her homeland, Chile.

The main theme of A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA is survival, and Allende is unflinching in her portrayal of the nightmare that was the Spanish Civil War. The Dalmau family, full of learned folks like doctors, teachers and creatives, has no chance to survive in a lost country ravaged by violence, and so Victor and Roser, along with Victor’s mother, Carme, flee for the French border. Unfortunately, they are among the 500,000 or so other Republicans with the same thought, and, in a gripping and painful event mirroring today’s refugee crises, France closes their borders and erects concentration camps, dividing Victor and Roser and putting their lives at risk. Allende holds nothing back as she describes the hopelessness and destitution of these camps, and yet the Republicans remain true to their vision for a new world, setting up newspapers, communities and learning centers. Their resolve captures the eye of Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet who has been following the refugee crisis and vows to welcome as many refugees as he can to his homeland, a place he once wrote was “the long petal of sea and wine and snow.”

It is through Neruda that Victor, Roser and Roser’s son, Marcel, are able to secure passage to Chile --- but only by posing as husband and wife. Though Victor is a skilled doctor, he will have to begin his training all over again in order to practice in the new country, but Roser’s skilled ear for the piano amuses Neruda, and he promises that while Chile has seamstresses, lumberjacks and miners, they are always in need of pianists. Thus the SS Winnipeg departs on August 4, 1939, carrying over 2,000 migrants desperate for a new start.

In Chile, the Dalmaus meet the del Solar family, headed by the imposing Isidro and his devout wife, Laura. Fortunately for the Dalmaus, Isidro and Laura are away when the refugees arrive, so it is their son, Felipe, who welcomes them into his home. Although Neruda has vouched for Victor, Roser and the rest of the refugees, the Chile they meet is not immediately welcoming or hospitable. Chile, too, is battling a division of ideals, and though the left has some sway, there are scores of right-leaning men and women with enough wealth, power and influence to make life difficult for the left-leaning newcomers. Fully aware that they have been fortunate to find a sympathetic soul in Felipe, Victor and Roser swear to one another that they must uphold the ruse of their marriage as long as they are on Chilean soil, both for their safety and for the safety of their son/nephew.

Roser adapts to Chilean life speedily --- she adores their passion for music and appreciates the Chilean generosity borne of centuries of hardships. Victor, however, has trouble adapting; not only does he resent having to relive his years of medical training, he still suffers from nightmarish visions of bombs, murders and other components of the war. Still, the two develop a sibling-like love for one another, and their mutual respect and sense of duty to Marcel binds them into a happy union. Of course, adapting to a new country is only part of their problems. In addition to having to acclimate and blend in, they are still tortured by thoughts of Spain. When the political divide in Chile begins to heat up, they must decide where home truly lies and whether or not they are ready to sacrifice their happiness again to survive.

A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA is Isabel Allende at her best --- not only is she masterful in her depictions of families and their generation-long bonds and resentments, she is also passionate about her country’s history. The historic facts she weaves into and throughout the book are difficult to read, but never more necessary than now. One cannot read about the Republican refugees arriving at France’s closed borders only to be placed into internment camps without thinking of America’s current refugee crisis at its Mexican border. As Allende shows us, when one country fails, it is up to others to step in and demand humanity in a world ripped apart by monsters.

Of course, it is easy to think of our own political climate when reading about the Spanish Civil War and the Chilean backlash against Communism, but the novel is far more personal to its author than that. To read about Chile’s storied and resolute people in Allende’s words is to be given a gift of culture, fortitude and wisdom. That her characters are as equally fleshed out and imagined as her setting is no surprise --- this is Isabel Allende, after all --- but that does not make them any less impressive, any less relatable or any less moving.

Combining the best of Allende’s many talents, A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA is a gorgeous work about hope, home and humanity. Possibly her best book since THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS, this triumph of a novel has a message for us all: “we human beings are gregarious, we’re not programmed for solitude, but to give and receive.”
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This is Isabel Allende at her best - following the fates of two families through both the Spanish Civil War and Chilean politics and upheavals. I love the characters she has created and felt a lot of empathy for them for what they endured.
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While it's refreshing to read historical fiction that's not set during WWII, I wasn't as captivated by this book as I expected to be. I've only read one other Allende book (Maya's Notebook) and really enjoyed it but this one fell flat for me. Perhaps too character-driven and not enough plot. Highlights do include the history of the Spanish Civil War, Pablo Neruda's cameo, compelling characters.
Ultimately I'm glad to have read it but it wasn't my cup of tea.
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This book is getting rave reviews, but I found it tedious and not as well written as other books I have read by Allende. The history of the Spanish Civil War, Chile, and Pablo Neruda were all very interesting, but I expected more from this author. Two stars.
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Once again, a great read by a great author!  Allende weaves history interspersed around fiction so beautifully.
The plot revolves around the Dalmau family and you can't help but be caught up in their lives from page one.
What's especially interesting is the historical aspect.  The characters are caught up in the Spanish Civil War.  You can visualize the terror, horror and inhumanity thanks to the incredible writing.  If you weren't familiar with its history, you certainly will be as the story progresses.
The words of Pablo Neruda begin each chapter which enhances the beauty of the book.  I didn't know that he commissioned a ship to take the Civil War refugees to Chile to rebuild their lives.  The history was eyeopening and the story woven around it so well done.  This is a book I regretted being over.
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Thank you NetGalley and Publisher for this early copy!

DNF. I've learned over the years after many attempts that I just do not care for historical fiction. I will not be reading this book.
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Allende can do no wrong in my eyes. This story was so rich and beautifully told, it made a perfect escapist read during these crazy times, I can't wait to share it.
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Isabel Allende’s latest, A Long Petal of the Sea, takes its name from a term the poet Pablo Neruda gave to his long and narrow coastal birthplace. In this novel, Chile becomes the place of exile for a young couple with a child who have fled the devastation of the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s. 

Victor Dalmau served as a medical assistant during the war, and his brother Guillem fought in the war. Roser Bruguera was taking music lessons from their father and eventually came to live with them. She fell in love with Guillem, becoming pregnant by him, and the two planned to marry after the war. Instead, life intervened, and Roser entered a marriage of convenience with Victor and fled the atrocities of Spain with him and her baby Marcel to Chile. 

Pablo Neruda sponsors many Spanish exiles to travel to Chile to start a new life in 1939 just as Europe is ready to break out into World War II.

The Dalmaus make a life for themselves in Chile. Victor finishes his education to become a doctor, and Roser plays piano and eventually becomes a professor of music. Marcel grows up in a loving home. Roser and Victor pose for many years as a married couple but they are strictly platonic friends. Victor is distracted by a young Chilean woman, and Roser has her own affair.

For many years, they thrive in Chile, until a military coup overthrows the government, and for some reason, Victor is treated as an enemy. The couple find themselves repeating their experience in Spain and soon enter exile again.

Isabel Allende, bestselling author of The House of the Spirits, has been called "the world's most widely read Spanish-language author.” An exile from Chile herself, Allende infuses the story of Victor and Roser with realism.

My review will be posted on Goodreads starting April 24, 2020. 

I’d like to thank Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in return for an objective.
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Once again, Isabel Allende, has written a wonderful historical fiction book.  As with her other novels, she deals with south american history and culture.  This book also contains stories of Pablo Neuda , the famous Chilean poet.  Taking place over the years between the Spanish civil war and the Second World War, the story follows a number of  well drawn characters.  Four generations of a family move between Spain and South America.
Difficult decisions are made, The book then follows to see the outcomes of those decisions play out in future generations.  Of course this is a love story for the ages as men and women come together only to be pulled apart by history, fate, unfortunate circumstances and decisions.  A beautifully written work well work reading.
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Allende’s historical saga takes readers to Spain, Chile and Venezuela. The characters of the Dalmau family are vibrant and intriguing. With the help of the famous poet, Pablo Neruda, they flee Spain and the brutal Franco regime and settle in Chile only to become government targets once again and forced to flee a second time to Venezuela. The book is rich with drama and the family members are resilient, doing whatever they must to survive. 

The historical details are richly interwoven in the plot, making the book even more compelling. Allende includes real people and events like Neruda and his efforts to save Spaniards by organizing the ship Winnipeg to carry the refugees to Chile. 

Victor and Roser Dalmau are a family brought together by need. What starts out as a partnership built out of necessity, becomes more over the years. The characters are carefully crafted and real. Their persecution in both Spain and Chile represents the suffering thousands endured and Allende skillfully demonstrates survival in tumultuous times. 

Great writing, sensitive dynamics and adherence to authentic events combine to make this an outstanding story of political unrest and the determination of the human spirit.
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It starts off slow and kind of dense, but once the action begins, it's hard to resist the story as it drives forward. It reads as a true epic, one that makes you feel the world really has been reshaped as you read it. Would recommend.
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"I have contacts, I'll see if I can get some things for you." "Such as what?" "Toilet paper, for example. There's a patient who sometimes brings me rolls of toilet paper as a gift." "Goodness! That's more precious than gold, Victor."  As I sit in my house to help flatten the curve of Covid-19 I found these words to be amusingly apt!  Allende tells this story of families and love,  she keeps us on the knife edge of political tension and uncertainty. Victor was a Republican in the Spanish Civil War, right before World War II, he enters into a marriage to keep his family together. In Chile, he finds himself under the spell of Pablo Neruda and once again embroiled in political conflict.
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Allende’s latest novel follows the main characters from young adulthood to old age. Most of the tale takes place in South America, to the extent that Chile and its political history almost rise to the status of another character. We first meet Victor, Guillem and Roser in Spain along with some of the lesser, but recurring, characters. The Spanish Civil War (late 1930s) is the context in which we discover the characters’ personalities and political viewpoints. Throughout the remainder, we watch them age as these core values play out in different circumstances and relationships. The historical figures that wind their way through the story add grounding and context.

In order to qualify as refugees and be sponsored for the transport to Chile, Victor and Roser agree to marry and commit themselves to raise Victor’s nephew, Roser and Guillem’s son. We witness the transformation of this marriage of necessity and convenience into a loving partnership in which they remain strong and loyal trough much adversity, both physical and political challenges. 

This skillful weaving of history and story makes this a book for our times. It brings us insight into how political struggles between authoritarian and democratic styles of governing play out. We witness the immediate effects of these struggles on society and on the characters as they deal with depression, hope, exile, divided loyalty, faith, surpicion, hardship.

A Long Petal of the Sea is an ambitious book that succeeds on many levels. It begins slowly, laying down the background and immersing the reader into the culture and milieu. Stick with it, the rich storyline and fully realized characters are your reward. There is much to enjoy, much to ponder.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing an advance copy of the book for my enjoyment.
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This is a love story that begins during the Spanish Civil War and follows the Dalmau family to Chile, where they seek refuge. Dosed and Victor survive the horrific  war and prosper in their new adopted country. Isabel Allene writes another engrossing story that captivates the reader until the end.
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Classic storytelling by one of the best. Isabel Allende manages to carry the novel through both the Spanish Civil War and Chile's 1970s military dictatorship with a vivid cast of characters and tangled family dynamics. Realistic details are juxtaposed with well-rendered scenery. Sometimes I yearned for more direct dialogue and conversation between characters, rather than summarized storytelling. Thats 4 stars, instead of 5. A welcome addition to any historical fiction library.
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