Cover Image: A Long Petal of the Sea

A Long Petal of the Sea

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Member Reviews

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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Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Learned so much about the history of Spain and Chile through this time period. And was captivated by the personal histories of the main characters. Thank you netgalley for a review copy.
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I was not very knowledgeable re: the Spanish Civil War before reading this book. It was rich in historical detail and very atmospheric.  I learned so much and the  excellent storyline was a bonus. 
Many thanks to Ballantine Books and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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I have enjoyed so many of Isabel Allende’s novels, especially her earlier works.  “A Long Petal of the Sea” is a historical multi-generational family saga that showcases Allende’s finest storytelling talents.  Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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A Long Petal of the Sea takes its title from a poem by Pablo Neruda who uses these words in a description of his beloved country, Chile. Each chapter begins with lines from one of his poems and he is a character in this novel about the Spanish Civil War. Following the war, Neruda, who was an ambassador to France, helped many Spaniards flee to Chile. The characters in this book had participated in the war, against the Fascists under Franco. Victor Dalmau was a medical student who worked as a doctor for the Republicans. After joining the Republican army in 1936, he found he was more useful at helping the wounded than carrying a rifle. Not so, Guillem, his fiery brother. 

Roser was a young woman studying music who had come to live with Victor’s parents and who fell passionately in love with Guillem. She and Victor survive the war and make their way to France in a long walk over the mountains in the winter. With the help of friends and smugglers, they arrive in France and with Neruda’s help sail for Chile where they must begin new lives.
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As my first Allende novel, I was very impressed with the way I was immediately swept into the story and lives of the characters. Their construction in the beginning of the novel was so detailed I felt they were readily known to the reader. Part one felt a little overwhelming given the volume of characters we meet and the sprawl of the plot itself, though this definitely started coming together more as the book progressed into part two. Towards the end, while the plot was very well developed, I felt at times that so much was happening (in terms of years traversed) that we were being told as readers, rather than left to experience this movement with the characters, that left me feeling a bit disconnected from them toward the end. 

This was really masterful historical fiction, and Victor and Roser particularly stood out to me as memorable and beautifully developed characters.

Many thanks to Random House for a review copy.
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I thought this book started out somewhat slow, and it was difficult for me to get into. It seemed like Allende was regarding her characters with a certain amount of distance that may had made it difficult for me to connect with them. I thought the historical setting was very interesting, and since I didn't know very much about the Spanish revolution, it was very enlightening for me. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction, has an interest in either Spain or Chile, or any fans of Isabel Allende. This is the first book I've read by her, and since she is often known for her magical realism, I am planning to read another book by her that includes more of that.
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Isabel Allende's latest novel is a beautiful love tale set against the brutal wars of the early 1900 up until ou recent history. The stiry begins in 1938 oserand introduces Victor Dalman. While working to help the many injured he sees on young boy severally injured and lying on a stretcher withhis heart completly exposed, He inserts his three fingers in the wound squeezs and thenfeels the heart coming back to life. This is a turning moment in his life. Through his many travels into many countries and various times imprisoned in camps and/or prisons he remains strong and committed to medicine and saving others.
There are any deaths inhis life ,separations  and homes in different countries. HIs brother Guilllemis killed by te Fascists. He leaves behind him his pregnant girl friend Roser. When VIctor meets her he feels they must leaave Spain and find a safer place to live. Eventually they settle in Chile and Victor becomes the father to his brother and Roser's son.
They remain together until her death but have many other adventures and at on time live in  Venezuela. The book has a surprise ending but I won'tevenhint at it. This is a wonderful story told how a couple manage t live through several wars, many deaths and prisons but still remain alive and love each other.
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I went into this book knowing a bit about the Spanish Civil War and nothing at all about Chile. Generally, when I'm reading historical fiction, it inspires me to get online and research the details about the actual historical events behind the story. That didn't happen when reading this until about 2/3 into it when Salvador Allende came into power and I began to research the relationship between him and the author. I'll save you the research, her father was a first cousin of Salvador Allende, President of Chile from 1970 to 1973. Even after finding this interesting and also finding that the author is now 77 so she obviously has years of life and history to pull from in writing this about her native country, Chile, I couldn't manage to love this story as I had hoped. There was a tremendous amount of historical information included but sometimes, it seemed haphazardly thrown in. Lots of moments where it felt like a story being told by someone where they consistently throw in that random tidbit of info that really doesn't add to the story but rather detracts because you're wondering what that had to do with it, is it relevant, and if I never really fell in love with any of the characters in this story either. I wanted to but it just didn't happen. While this seems like a very negative review, the historical information, and especially from the perspective of someone who was distantly related to one of the real-life characters in the book was interesting. I would have probably enjoyed it more if I'd done more research upfront about Chile's history and would strongly encourage other readers to do so. I received a copy of this book through #NetGalley. #AlongPetalOfTheSea
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Renowned author Allende (In the Midst of Winter) unites war’s refugees in a marriage of convenience that takes them on an emotional journey leading to profound love. Victor Dalmau, a medic in the Spanish Civil War, weds Roser Bruguera and becomes a father to Marcel, her child fathered by his deceased brother Guillem. With nothing left for them in Spain, they emigrate to Chile and start anew.

Though their relationship remains chaste for years, and Victor becomes enamored with Chilean socialite, Ofelia, he refuses to leave Roser and Marcel, determined to love and care for them. Roser eventually gains employment as a music professor, and Victor continues his medical training and becomes a physician.

The thematic element of political unrest is at the heart of this novel, from the disorder in Spain under Franco to the turmoil in Chile under Pinochet. And simmering below the surface of the unrest is the narrative of Roser and Victor, who are determined to survive against the odds and overcome the obstacles that fate has thrown in their way.

Lyrical and rich with historical detail, Allende’s latest is a study of how circumstances shape humanity. She expertly relates history’s tumultuous events to the personal experiences of those whose lives were forever changed by them.
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Great book. Amazing characters. The story was complex, epic, with a lot of depth. Read if you love character-driven historical fiction.
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Isabel Allende is a master story teller, blending history and fiction, painting a picture of a different time and place with masterful brush strokes, while writing characters and words that stay with the reader, long after we close the book. This time around she tells the story of Victor Dalmau and Roser Bruguera. Caught up in the Spanish Civil War and the atrocities of General Francisco Franco, they are forced to flee Spain for France, and eventually make it to Chile with the help of Pablo Neruda. Spanning form 1938 to 1994 the ebb and flow, the triumphs and failures of these two and their family paint a picture of the immigrants life and trials. The strength and courage it takes to leave everything behind you and start again in an unknown world shows the resilience of the human spirit. 

Readers will not be able to but draw the lines between the events of the past and what is happening around the world today.  Beautifully written with a strong sense of time and place, with lyrical prose and well-developed characters. Readers of all sorts will be drawn to this novel and it is sure to be picked up by book clubs for a lively and timely book discussion.
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Once again Isabel Allende brings us a well researched, emotional, and heartfelt book.  At the beginning of A Long Petal of the Sea she writes of the 1930s civil war in Spain.  Deaths and tragedies occur, exile is the only choice, yet love blooms.  I was totally drawn into this marvelous book.  I will highly recommend A Long Petal of the Sea to my book clubs.
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I hated reading and learning about history while in school.  The dates and facts never stayed with me.  Now, I try to make up for everything that I didn’t learn in school by reading historical fiction.   

In my choices in historical fiction, I still try to stick to subjects that sound like they might be interesting to me, like seamstresses sewing the Queen’s gown.   

 I’m ashamed to say that before reading this book, I knew nothing about the Spanish Civil War.   It didn’t sound at all like anything that I would be interested in, but I ended up loving this book. 

Yes, you learn all about the Spanish Civil War, but it’s all presented around such strong characters.  It’s the story of what people do to survive.  The human spirit.  The human drive. 

The book centers around the two main characters, Roser and Victor Dalmour.  Roser is pregnant and is the wife of Victor’s brother.  They are fleeing Spain, heading for the French border, after General Franco has taken over. 

From there we follow them through a winding incredible journey.  From concentration camps to Chile to Venezuela. 

Such a good read!
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A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende is an excellent novel that deals with many different topics entwined into one family’s journey. The characters were very authentic and as the reader I could feel myself caring about them deeply.  I also learned about the Spanish Civil War, the uprising in Chili and the actions of the country of Venezuela.  Several of the characters are gravely mistreated during the course of these uprisings.  There is also the humanity of the characters in this novel who love others and experience loss    as the war and uprisings continue.  There is even a discussion of corruption within the Catholic Church in these countries. I actually stayed up until 1am finishing this novel because I just had to see what would happen. Overall this is a very enjoyable novel!
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Allende’s fluidly written saga conveys her deep familiarity with the events she depicts, and her intent to illustrate their human impact in a moving way. The scope spans most of the lives of Victor Dalmau, a Republican army medic in 1936 Spain, and Roser Bruguera, a music student taken in by Victor’s family and, later, his brother Guillem’s lover and the mother of Guillem’s child. The story follows them over nearly sixty years, beginning with the tumult of the Spanish Civil War. Guillem is killed fighting against the Fascists, news that Victor can’t bear to tell Roser initially. After surviving separate and terrible circumstances that leave them refugees in France, where authorities treat them with contempt and worse, the two marry for practical reasons in order to join Pablo Neruda’s mission transporting over 2000 Spanish exiles to Chile aboard the S.S. Winnipeg. In Santiago, the Dalmaus find many Chileans sympathetic to the Spaniards, while others make them unwelcome.

With a poetic title coming from a poem of Neruda’s referring to Chile as “a long petal of sea and wine and snow,” the novel prompts readers to reflect on the timely themes of cultural adaptation and political refugees’ shared experiences across eras and continents. It also illustrates Victor and Roser’s unusual marriage, which begins out of duty, ripens into affection and mutual admiration, and transforms into something more. Allende frequently steps away from her characters to relay the larger historical picture, as in this memorable passage: “The exodus from Barcelona was a Dantesque spectacle of thousands of people shivering with cold in a stampede that soon slowed to a straggling procession traveling at the speed of the amputees, the wounded, the old folks and the children.” Incidents from the Dalmaus’ lives are sometimes recited rather than shown, which can be distancing, but Allende’s storytelling abilities are undeniable.

(from the Historical Novels Review, Feb 2020)
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3.5 stars

An  impactful offering from the historical fiction artist, Isabel Allende. She skillfully transports readers this time to the fallout of the Spanish Civil War and creates such compassion for and investment in the characters that a reader is left with a genuine sense of loss when the book concludes. 

The wide scope of this one does create some segments that tend to be less engaging than others, Also, the smooth, flowing English prose of Allende’s earlier works is missing, replaced with some choppy, repetitive sentence patterns. I assume this is due to the work of the translators. Regardless, Allende has created a work that is well worth reading.
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A Long Petal of the Sea is more similar to some of Allende's earlier books, and to me, that's a good thing! It is rich in historical detail-you will learn about the Spanish revolution, the plight of the refugees who fled after Franco rose to power, and the history of Chile. Allende masterfully weaves together these historical details with the story of her main characters, Roser and Victor, and how they came to be intertwined in each others' lives. What's particularly interesting about this book is that I've been told that Allende based it on the true story of a friend of hers who immigrated to Chile at this time. I really enjoyed this book!
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Isabel Allende wrote a very interesting fiction book based on the Spanish Civil War and the Chilean Civil War.  I came close to DNF’ing this due to the factual way it was written but am glad I didn’t.

The characters were very interesting with lives outside any I could ever imagine.  Going through one countries upheaval, surviving the journey out of the country and the refugee camps was very realistic and with just enough drama to be enthralling.  Then the relocation into the country of Chile, to go through another coup in that country and having to leave for a while but then return.  Fascinating book using parts of poetry from Pablo Neruda to introduce each chapter.

The title comes from the shape of the Chilean country which becomes Victor and Roser Dalmau’s home and life.  Both are.people that live to help and make life better for others.  Both are super talented and intelligent people.  This book spans three generations though it’s the middle generation that has most of the focus.

This is a book that if you like historical fiction, you will love.
#netgalley #alongpetalofthesea #isabelallende
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