Sorry folks, I was so bored. I sped up the audio to 1.75x (I used the audiobook and the e-book) and skimmed the last 25% of the e-book. Nothing stood out for me. I didn't care a whit about anyone or anything. It was so dull. This was my first Allende book.
Allende continues to be one of the best writers of our time. Very underappreciated talent. This one was of course, gorgeous and lyrical and amazing
Thanks to the publisher for the chance to read the book. It was a fascinating look at the history of Chile, something I've never examined before, told through the eyes of compelling and interesting characters who are rooted in history.
Read this for my book club - great choice! Although it’s not my usual type of book, I very much enjoyed it.
I really would probably give this book 3.5 stars. Despite the beauty and lightness of the cover, this is a deep, sometimes dark, sometimes beautiful journey. It is definitely a family saga type of book, spanning over 50 years from 1938 until 1994. Beginning in Spain at the end of the Spanish Civil War (which I don’t think is mentioned by name per se, but is listed by the author in the interview in the back of the book), traveling to Chile and Argentina and all around these three countries during these years, it encompasses many people, but most regularly physician Victor Dalmau, and possibly secondly Roser, his wife.
As much as their lives are covered, the book gives quite a bit of detail about political unrests during the time in these countries. It’s a lot to keep track of and understand. At times, it’s the kind of story you have to just calmly listen to, not knowing where it is taking you. The audiobook is nice for that and Edoardo Ballerini does a beautiful job narrating. I went back and forth between the audiobook and the paperback because after two weeks, I wanted to move on. I think there are some beautiful things about her writing, and I would think it might even be better in Spanish. Curious to discuss this next week in book club.
“…we human beings are gregarious, we’re not programmed for solitude, but to give and receive.” P313
“Be careful, Victor, success is intoxicating you. Remember life has many peaks and troughs.” P280
“He had never believed their love would prosper, because…it was a plant without roots that was bound to wither. Nothing can grow in the shade of secrets, she would say, love needs light and space to flourish.” P171
“None of them knew anything about Chile. Years later Neruda was to define it as a long petal of the sea and wine and snow… with a belt of black and white foam, but that would not have left the migrants any the wiser. On the map, it looked slender and remote.” P113
Triggers: It covers affairs and a child out of wedlock
Roser, a pregnant young widow, escapes Spain during the civil war in the late 1930s, with Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and brother of her deceased love. They go to Chile via the SS Winnipeg, chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda, Starting their lives over, they continue to face trials over their lifetime, as they dream to one day return to Spain. They witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world,
This historical fiction read follows along Victor and Roser through almost the entirety of their lives. It was interesting to read what someone's life might have been like during those tumultuous times. There is a lot about politics, since that was at the forefront at the time, but I found myself skimming over those parts a bit. I found the first half of the book to be quite slow, and found it hard to get invested in the characters but it did pick up as I got further into it. My interest in historical fiction is generally more on the human experience of those times and this book gets into that a bit later on.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and a more in depth look into the politics at play during this time period.
Thank you to Ballantine and The Gloss for my copy as host of the Oakville chapter.
For book club in January, we read A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende. I had just recently read Violeta and mostly enjoyed it (check out my review), and was looking forward to this other highly rated novel of hers. The family parts of the story I enjoyed, but much like Violeta, she often pauses the storyline to go deep into the history of multiple countries and their politics. That’s where she loses me a bit. We just discussed this last night and the other members of my book club felt similar! All four of us rated it 3 stars.
Thank you for the bookclub copy of a long petal of the sea. A very interesting book set over a life time of those who had escaped to Chilli to during the war. It was a good but harrowing read.
I loved this book. It is a family saga following these characters from the Spanish civil war to come through Chilean life and political struggles.. the characters were well developed and relatable. Highly recommend.
This book is historical fiction and revolves around the details of the Spanish Civil war that happened in the later 1930s. The story revolves around the Dalmau family that were living in Catalonia. There are two sons, one goes off to fight in the battle while the other helps out and practices medicine to help people who are injured. The family adopts a young talented pianist so she can continue to develop her musical talents under the guidance of Victor's father Roser stays with them and she becomes an integral part of the family. The story continues to evolve with a focus on Victor, Roser as they are forced to flee their country and move to Chile to survive until the things resolve in Catalonia.
It took a while for me to get into the book as the first third of the book was very focused on the complexity of the war and battles so that the reader would have a good understanding of how difficult and terrifying a time it was for people living in Catalonia. I struggled through the book at the beginning and I wasn't sure I was going to like the book but I persevered because I have read a couple books by this author before and really enjoyed her previous books. I am glad I persevered through it because the book got better and I found the story very interesting. I really enjoy historical fiction as I always find I learn interesting things that I didn't know before related to that time.
I really wanted to like this book precisely because of the historical setting around the Spanish Civil War and then the pollical environment in Chile. However, the book ended up feeling very academic – it was very heavy on political thoughts and lists and was very light on character development. As a result, I had a hard time connecting to the characters on an emotional level. I did enjoy the history but I do wish it had felt more like a novel and less like a textbook with characters.
I'm currently clearing out all of the books that were published in 2019-20 from my title feedback view!
At the end of the Spanish Civil War, with the aid of Pablo Neruda, refugees boarded the SS Winnipeg bound for Chile. This novel follows the lives Victor and Roser Dalmau, an unlikely couple that is a product of a war-town Spain, as they establish a new life in Chile. This story is about the perseverance of starting over for the sake of family. As always, Allende’s writing is beautiful and she presents an unique story with great characters. This novel was just published in January, and is still in hardcover, however this is now probably my favorite work of fiction from Isabel Allende.
Isabel Allende never disappoints. This book lyrically written book about finding your place in the world and the very definition of home. Beginning during the Spanish Civil War, the story may surprise readers about the refugee situation that resulted, and the unwillingness of the world on the brink of war to intervene. Sprinkled with Neruda poetry and good deeds and highlighting the importance of artists as valuable members of society, the book was memorable as is all her work.
This read like Allende's early work and that's a good thing. She is a master storyteller and did not disappoint with this book. Strong character development as expected. I also learned a lot about the Spanish Civil War and Chilean politics. I remain a big fan.
Isabel Allende is a poet, and this is really poetry in novel form. It tells of a couple who get together because of circumstances and find love and strength from each other. (And Pablo Neruda shows up!!! In this Novel!!! My favorite poet ever!!!) Beautiful prose, a new setting (since most historical fiction in WWII now, not that I am complaining), it is another lovely work from the wonderful Ms. Allende
Allende writes magical books and this was no different. She has a way with words. It definitely took a while to read but it was very well done.
I was back and forth reading this book this year and while I love the author's writing, overall there wasn't anything that really grabbed me and made me want to pick it up. The story was a sweeping saga of wartime life and I think, for me, this caused me to feel a little disconnected with the characters as the story focused more on aspects of war and history than is really my cup of tea.
One of her best. The story of a family struggled to remain together in a horrible war. Great historic fiction book.
Allende has long been one of the writers I admire most, one of the few novelists to gain permanent space on my bookshelves. Her stories are distinguished by her devotion to social justice issues, particularly in Latin America, and to feminism. She’s known in particular for her use of magical realism, which I confess makes me a little crazy when she imbeds it in her nonfiction titles, and also her wry, sometimes subtle humor. Much of what she writes is historical fiction, as it is here, and she is a stickler for accuracy. Her research is flawless. She has prestigious awards from all over the world. Literature teachers love her.
My thanks go to Net Galley and Random House Ballantine for the review copy. This book is for sale now.
In A Long Petal of the Sea, she takes on a particularly ambitious task, creating a fictional family and charting its course from Spain following the failure of the Spanish Revolution, to Chile, to other points in Latin America, and then back to Spain once more. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, with different threads for each that separate, then braid together again and so on. There are at least three generations here, but primarily the story is Roser’s.
It’s a well written story, though it is also the sort of literary fiction that takes a fair amount of stamina. If you’re in search of a beach read, this isn’t it. I confess I didn’t enjoy it as much as I often enjoy Allende’s work, but I also believe it’s unfair to judge an author solely by what they have already written. If this was the first book by this author that I had ever read, I would give it five stars, and so that is what I’ve done.
My one disappointment is that we don’t learn more about the Spanish Revolution and the Spanish Civil War. This is an event that’s very difficult to find in quality historical fiction and literary fiction, at least in English, and I was excited when I saw this book was based on it. Then by the 25% mark, we’re out of Spain and it leaves me sad, because I wanted to know more about that period and place. I also missed the usual Allende humor, which she uses in other books to break up tense passages and shoot down sexist behavior in her characters; her last book, In the Midst of Winter, made me laugh out loud more than once. That humor is in short supply here. The feminist moxie, however, is in splendid form, and the class and internationalist perspectives that I treasure are alive and well.
A book should be judged on its own merits, and I’ve done that, but I want to add a shout out to an iconic writer who’s still publishing brilliant, ambitious books at the age of 78. My own goals for that age, should I be fortunate enough to see it: I’d like to be breathing; to be able to see and hear most of what’s around me; and I’d like to not be completely crazy. Publishing great literature? Perhaps not. I am delighted that Allende can do this, and I hope she has more stories in the works.
A note on the audio version: I supplemented my review copy with an audiobook I found at Seattle Bibliocommons. It’s an approachable way to get through a complex, multifaceted story, but I don’t like the way the reader voices the elderly male character. The harsh, guttural-sounding tones are too near to a stereotype. Happily, the story is mostly Roser’s, but the unfortunate noise pops in fairly regularly all the way through, and it makes for a less enjoyable listen. For those with the time and inclination for the print version, it may be your better choice.
For those that love epic historical fiction, I recommend this book to you, although if you haven’t read Allende, also consider some of her early work.