A Long Petal of the Sea

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Mar 2020

Member Reviews

Chile is the country described by the book's title, A Long Petal of the Sea. Roser and Victor traveled across several continents to escape Franco's Civil War. Victor was a young man with an interest in medicine, and Roser was Victor's sister-in-law. As things became utterly impossible in Spain, Roser and Victor began traveling, first to France where they lived in a refugee camp and then with Pablo Neruda's help, onto The Winnipeg, a ship whose refugees would be accepted by Chile.

The story is long and full of the small details we rarely know about when a person loses everything and almost starves to death. I stayed with this rather long this novel. I had to uncover all the mysteries of Roser and Victor and their friends and family. I needed to know how generations of refugees survive a horrific tragedy. Would they ever find peace and happiness? This novel left me with hope even when today, similar appalling conditions are being endured all over the world.

IA has written a loving war story, a hopeful love story, and a real bit of history. Thank you to the author, Random House, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this beautiful saga (Jan 21).
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In the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, a pregnant widow and her husband’s brother are left grieving all that they've lost, and fearing all that is to come in World War II. After climbing through mountains into France and being placed in concentration camps, the two are offered a new life in Chile thanks to a ship chartered by poet Pablo Neruda. Throughout the rest of their lives, they try to escape the ghosts of their past and find somewhere that feels like home.

This is a stunning tale, masterfully told by the incomparable Isabel Allende, with layers of history both political and personal. Roser and Victor have such spirit and resilience, and their journey together is incredibly touching. There's also so much to learn in this book about Spanish and Chilean history, and a truly moving depiction of the immigrant experience. Allende's prose is spellbinding, and this story of love, loss, and rebuilding is unforgettable.
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I was very intrigued by this book and am glad I got a chance to read it, but I couldn't quite connect to the story or the characters. I think it's the style of Allende's writing, which sometimes works for me and sometimes just doesn't. I think some readers will adore this book, but for me it was just ok.
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I’ve enjoyed some of Isabel Allende’s previous novels and her most recent was certainly no exception.  Allende is such a gifted storyteller.  Even better is the fact that this novel is based on historical events.

I must admit, I know very little about Spanish history, especially the Spanish Civil War that occurred during the late 1930’s.  I was surprised to read that Spanish citizens had to flee the country for safety.

Two of these citizens who fled were Roser and Victor.  Roser, who was pregnant with Victor’s brother’s child, fled with help from Victor and one of his friends.  She stays for a time in France and soon she and Victor are re-united.  After learning that Victor’s brother has died, the two make a decision to marry in order for them to be able to emigrate to Chile.

Unfortunately for the couple, in later years they will face more strife in Chile due to political upheaval.  On a more positive note, what began as a marriage of convenience, ends up being the love of a lifetime for Victor and Roser.  I found this to be a very engrossing story, although there was a bit more politics than I was expecting.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for allowing to read an advance copy and give an honest review
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The life story of Victor and Roser reflects the history of the Spanish Civil War, emigration of Spanish refugees to Chile, and the fraught political history of that country.  

I enjoy Isabel Allende’s non magical writing, and this saga is no exception.  The atrocities man inflicts upon man are told in a matter of fact manner, but this does not take away from their horrors.  Each chapter begins with a quote from poet Pablo Neruda, an important actor in the history and culture of Chile whose life is interwoven into this narrative. 

Written in third person gives the reader the feeling of being an observer not only of the lives of Victor and Roser, but also monumental historical events.  Some of those events gives one pause in reflecting on our current political climate as well.
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Simply a better writer than most! We all heard the names, Salvador Allende, Pablo Neruda - but what really happened in Chile in the early 70s? Excellent novel based on historical facts.
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I usually love Isabel Allende's books so I was eager to read this one.  For me, this one was hard to read.  As usual, Allende used beautiful, poetic language and descriptions and the book was obviously heavily researched.  But I never felt connected to any of the characters.  There was so much detail and descriptions of war, that the story of the characters bogged down for me.  This is just my opinion.  I'm sure many people will declare this her best work yet.  As for me, I'll just look forward to her next book.
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Interesting tale, well researched and written.  Allende knows how to capture us from the beginning.  Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher.
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Isabel Allende's personal history and extensive research  tells the story of a couple that escapes Spain's Civil War for Chile only to be caught up over the years in the trials and civil disruptions there as well.   A marriage of convenience between Victor and his pregnant, widowed sister-in-law set the stage for their escape from Spain and a long journey to a new and unexpected life in Chile.  This generational story weaves together factual events with the fiction of the plot line in a slow, graceful narrative waltz.  The characters are multi-dimensional and rich with emotion and life.  The plot runs the spectrum from suffering, sadness and great joy.  I'm a fan of the author and appreciate the opportunity from NetGalley to previous this book.
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This was a well written and very well researched trip to 1930's Spain and Argentina. I never did really connect with any of the characters but it was very interesting none the less.
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Isabel Allende is such a great storyteller. This book follows the lives of Roser and Victor, who flee Spain after the Civil War to Chile on board a boat commissioned by the poet Pablo Neruda. While the story is fiction, it's based on true events and real people. Allende creates complicated characters full of depth and perception who are responding to their worlds being turned upside down. The connections between Spain and Chile, the customs, cultures and plight of refugees is dealt with beautifully and poignantly. As a reader, I sympathized with the difficult and varied circumstances that so many of the characters found themselves in, and felt through her writing just how much war affects all humanity. Ultimately, this is a story of people, what they do to survive and how they make a life even when everything is collapsing around them. Themes of resilience, love and hope thread through the narrative. A throughly enjoyable read.
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Isabel Allende is a favorite author for me.  Allende's books always seem to allow travel to so many countries! This one started in Spain, and spent time France, Chile, Argentina, and the United States.  The focus of the book is an epic journey of the lives of  Victor Dalmau (an army doctor), and Roser (Victor's late brother's pregnant girlfriend.  They flee Spain during the Spanish Civil War, just before World War II, and cross the Pyranees into France.  Somehow they made it aboard a ship carrying refugees to Chile.  They made their home there and things are peaceful for awhile, but it seems trouble can't help but find these two people.  They face many hurdles during the course of the story.

I enjoyed following their lives and their remarkable journey.  Their lives were remarkable.  I found at the end that this book was based on actual events and historical figures even though the book is a work of fiction.  

Thanks to Isabel Allende and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine through Netgalley for an advance copy of this book.
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I love this author and just could not wait to get my hands on her latest work. She tells such an involved and developed story, I always feel like I have a bit of withdrawals when I'm done reading her novels! Love the story, love the writing, would definitely recommend!
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The novel spans the period 1938 to 1994, the novel focuses on Victor Dalmau, a 23-year-old medical student fighting in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side. Victor and thousands of other Republican sympathizers flee Spain to avoid brutal reprisals. In France, he searches the packed refugee camps for Roser Bruguera, who is pregnant with his brother Guillem’s child. ( Guillem had died in battle)
Victor through Chilean poet Pablo Neruda has organized to transport Spanish refugees from Europe manages to win a place on the Winnipeg a ship destined for Chile. Victor persuades Roser to marry him in name only so they can take the journey to Chile. Victor begins to fall in love with Roser 
They raise Roser’s son, Marcel and create stable lives as a Cardiologist and Roser as a musician.
Through it all, their hope of returning to Spain keeps them going. 
 This is an engrossing novel of hope, exile, love, war and above all family.
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Review The Long Petal of the Sea

The Dalmau family lived in Barcelona. Marcel Dalmau, a Music Professor in a university and his wife Carme, had 2 sons, Guillem and Victor. Guillem was the boisterous  one but Victor was quieter and a better student. So in 1936 the two sons went off to fight for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War.

When the boys were gone, Marcel and Carme took in one of the professors talented students, Roser, who became a member of the family. Roser later fell in love with Guillem and became pregnant with his child while he was home on leave. The Republicans were losing and so pregnant Roser and Carme set out to find Guillem and tell him of the pregnancy. They learned that Guillem had died on the battlefield. They did find Victor who had been working as a medic in the field hospitals. 

By this time Republicans were losing and fleeing Spain for France. Victor, Roser and Carme joined the throngs but then Carme left the group in Spain. Once they got across the mountains into France, they found the French did not want them there. Roser had given birth to a son, Marcel, and she and Victor heard about a transport ship, the Winnipeg, that had been refitted to take skilled Spanish refugees to Chile. Roser and Victor married quickly so they could travel as a family. Then they brought their son to Chile. 

The couple continued to live as brother and sister as Roser was grieving Guillem for many years. Roser worked as a musician while Victor was able to go to medical school. 

The book explores the lives of the Spaniards in their new country. Chile experienced it’s own revolutions and the Dalmaus found themselves caught up in politics there as well. 

This book spans the period from 1931 to the 1990s. It examines the political upheavals in both Spain and Chile. The author was raised in Chile and has done extensive research on the history of that country.
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Another excellent book by Allende tells the story of Chilean immigrants who came from Spain to escape Franco’s regime. Following the story of a small family, it shows the gratitude of those who escaped and how they along with the next generation, made a positive impact on Chile. (Net Galley review copy)
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Against the background of the Spanish Civil War, to the political ups and downs of Chile, our main characters Victor and Roser, make their lives. To me the history of the the changing currents in Spain and Chile was what gave the book it’s meat. The characters were well enough formed in that the stories move forward at a good enough pace: alone, they would have merited a three star book.
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I received an ARC of A Long Petal of the Sea, referring to Chile’s geographic location along the coast of South America, by Isabelle Allende and its so nice to see her back in top form.  Allende has tackled the history of immigration, as Victor Dalmau flees Franco’s Spain only to encounter harsh camps and opposition to immigrants in France.  Pablo Neruda, the real life Chilean poet, is charged with bringing select Spainish refugees to Chile aboard the real life Winnipeg.  Victor, his soon to be wife Roser, a talented musician and their infant son, Marcel convince Neruda of their value to Chile’s culture and economy and secure passage.  Thus begins a love affair with Chile through Salvatore Allende’s government, the US backed military coup and the purge by Augusto Pinochet.   Victor, no longer a Spaniard but a true Chilean, flees to Venezuela after being arrested and sent to a concentration camp during the purge. Finally they return to Chile after Pinochet’s fall.  The characters are well done but it is Allende’s beautiful descriptive writing, totally engaging plot and love for her native Chile that makes this book such a pleasure to read.  Such a pleasure to spend time with Allende one  of today’s most accomplished storytellers.  Historical fiction with a strong connection to today’s headlines.
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A Long Petal of the Sea is Isabel Allende's semi fictionalized account (the historical figures are real, other characters are invented) of a pair of Republican refugees from Spain's Civil War who immigrate to Chile on a voyage arranged by poet Pablo Neruda. Yes, that voyage actually happened, and Neruda was the man behind it. Neruda was charged with choosing individuals with useful technical skills. He chose some people like these, but he also apparently chose people he found intelligent or interesting or whose spirit and values he admired. 

Two of these refugees are Victor and Roser. Victor is a not-yet-licensed doctor who served as a medic in the Spanish Civil War and who dreams of becoming a cardiologist. Roser, a former piano student of Victor's father, is pregnant with the child of Victor's younger brother, who was killed in the war. The pair marry and agree they will raise the child together as friends. The novels follows their life in Chile—and other parts of Latin America—through the second half of the 20th Century, including the  election and overthrow of President Salvador Allende, the Pinochet dictatorship that followed, and Chile's gradual return to democracy.

This is a historical period of great interest to me, and I appreciated the longitudinal picture of events A Long Petal of the Sea Provided. Nonetheless, I had a hard time immersing myself in the narrative, which is relatively bare. The novel read like a summary of what might have been had Allende moved beyond a relating a series of events and allowed readers to dwell in the inner lives of the characters.

I'm glad to have read this book, but I was very conscious that I was reading, rather than living through these times alongside the characters.

I received a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes from the published via NetGalley. The opinions are my own.
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It goes without saying that this book is beautifully written.  But in addition to that the story of the journey of one unconventional family through the Spanish Civil War and Chilean dictatorship is heartfelt and pulls the reader in immediately.  There are so many real life characters and stories in this book its easy to forget its a novel.  I enjoyed the journey it took me on while I read it.
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