Cover Image: A Long Petal of the Sea

A Long Petal of the Sea

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Member Reviews

This is the first book that I have read from Isabel Allende. I understand why she has won so many awards. This book was amazing. The story pulls you in from the beginning, and you are on a roller coaster ride throughout. There is a beauty, a pain, a sadness, and unexpected joy in this book. While this is a work of historical fiction, the history here is spot on. Allende has certainly put a lot of research into this work, and it shows. This book is especially relevant as we think in our current moment about immigration, refuges, and what it means to have a home or a homeland. Allende brings these very poignant themes out in this book, and yet humanizes her characters so that you can imagine the ICE facilities and detained people on the U.S. border. The heaviness of this book is made light by the writing and language. There is so much beauty in this book. If you want to read a book that spans continents and decades of history and yet is very relevant to our contemporary moment, I highly recommend this book.

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Isabel Allende returns to her roots with this amazing and extremely relevant novel. It was challenging to read this novel of the uprising of fascism in Spain and later the military take-over in Chile because it felt so immediate and connects to much of what is happening in our world today.

This novel follows Victor and Roser through the years as they leave Spain and find a new life in Chile. They marry for practical reasons, so that they can emigrate together to Chile with Roser's baby. Through the years, their family faces many tragedies as well as much love and joy.

Allende weaves a compelling story that is timeless and yet captures the eras and locales in vivid detail. Family, loyalty, governments, culture and people from various class levels come together in this masterful novel.

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Sure to be one the best books of 2020.
During the brutality of the Spanish Civil War the lives of Victor Dalmau, a medic in the Republican Army in 1936 fighting Franco in Spain, and Roser, a young Basque girl with exceptional musical talent, are woven together in Isabel Allende's well researched and well told historical novel of war, exile, love and loss.
Allende has a magical ability to put on the page characters full of human fragility and resilience. A homage to those who find love and cherish life amid brutality, the poet Pablo Neruda, the healing powers of medicine and music, passionate women, and courageous hearts.

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<i>A Long Petal of the Sea</i> is certainly an ambitious book. In it, author Isabel Allende sets out to do nothing less than tell the real-life history of the cathartic political revolutions in two different countries—Spain and Chile—lying half a world apart. Linking these conflicts is the very personal, multi-generational saga of Victor and Roser Dalmau, a fictional couple who experience the best and the worst of these events that shaped so much of the world’s political and social landscape in the second half of the 20th century. So, the novel offers the reader compelling historical fiction involving significant figures such as Francisco Franco, Pablo Neruda, and Salvador Allende along with an affecting and tumultuous love story that spans more than five decades. Ambitious, indeed!

That summary provides a useful context because the novel divides fairly evenly between its historical and imagined elements. Of the two, I found the former to be more engaging than the latter. Roughly the first third of the story is set in and around Barcelona at the time of the Spanish Civil War, where Victor and his brother Guillem serve the increasingly doomed Republican cause. The author’s depictions of the war and its aftermath are stark and gripping; it is perhaps the best fictional account of this subject since Ernest Hemingway’s legendary <i>For Whom the Bell Tolls</i>. The remainder of the novel then moves to South America, beginning with Victor and Roser’s emigration to Chile on a cargo ship arranged by the poet Neruda and culminating with the action leading up to and following the brutal coup d’etat that overthrew the Marxist president Salvador Allende in the mid-1970s. For me, this was the most interesting and revealing part of the book. (It is well established, of course, that the deposed president was the author’s uncle, making this a very personal account.)

On the other hand, I thought that the purely fictional tale of Victor and Roser’s lengthy relationship was somewhat less successful. There was really nothing wrong with the story itself—it was well-plotted and contained multiple twists and turns—but it did not sustain my interest until the end. Part of the problem might have been the matter-of-fact, third-person style the author adopted throughout the book, which made it difficult at times to generate a lot of empathy for the protagonists. In fact, the entire story really peaked following the Chilean coup, with much of the remaining narrative feeling like an obligatory wrap-up to the storylines of the myriad characters the author introduced earlier. In that regard, the novel suffers by comparison to the author’s own brilliant <i>The House of the Spirits</i> that covers some of this same ground in a more convincing way. Still, <i>A Long Petal of the Sea</i> is an excellent book that will satisfy Allende’s legion of fans as well as those who may be new to her work.

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Historical fiction at its best a saga a group of characters so brilliantly written fiction with non fiction actual events woven in.Isabel Allende is such an extraordinary gorgeous writer this novel deserves all the acclaim.#netgalley #randomhouse

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A generational saga is Allende at her best. Starting with the Spanish Civil War, characters are created that the reader feels vested in. A doctor, a brother lost, a pregnant girlfriend, a family friend, a worrying mother. Real to life characters that are refugees to France and then Pablo Neruda and the Winnepeg carry refugees to Chile. There is so much factual information available for the creation of the family's story that some events are glossed over. Overall, this is a satisfying fact based novel and an above average read.

Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley

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The story spans continents and generations. Amazing literary fiction book with some well researched nonfiction weaved in. Isabel Allende truly at her finest! I just finished reading the ARC and I will buy the hardback soon. This book has to be in my library! I want to read it again because there are so many layers. Beautiful writing, characters, and descriptions. Loved it!!

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A powerful and well written historical fiction of Victor, a Spanish medic during the Spanish Civil War, and his flight to France and eventually Chile. His brother left a young girl, Roser, pregnant, and he married her so they could get passage on the refugee ship set up by Pablo Neruda. Covering a lot of decades, and story lines, the couple end up being in the throes of violence when Pinochet's troops bombed the President's Palace and captured and tortured thousands. Considering the President that was killed was the author's father, it makes it even more powerful. I strongly urge and recommend this book for people to read. It is fiction, but has a lot of factual information. Sadly, there are a lot of parallels shown in this book to ones I see today on the news. Corruption, abuse of power, cruelty shown to the poor and refugees, and overall inhumanity are as prevalent today as there were back then. From Franco in Spain, Hitler in Germany and Pinochet in Chile, you can make comparisons to many dictators and tyrants today. You also see the same cruel actions towards the refugees, in the book at the border with France, and today in the ones trying to stop and abuse the ones trying to get into Europe, or even the ones trying to get into the U.S. Sad. The book made me think, and gave me an insight to a history that is not well known in the U.S. Besides that, it is well written and easy to get caught up in the lives of the characters. Highly recommend.

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Isabel Allende has produced a perfect saga of beautifully written historical fiction. She has masterfully placed the fictional Dalmau family in the center of many great historical events, and many important figures (including her own father).

As a Republican in the bloody Spanish Civil War, Victor Dalmau faces death as a medic. His own family is decimated as his beloved homeland is destroyed. His brother has died leaving his beloved, Roser pregnant. It is here that their lives are forever changed when Pablo Neruda is involved in bringing fleeing refugees from war-torn Spain to Chile.

To save Roser, it is agreed that they will marry and raise the child together. Their lives in Chile dominate the book as their new home land goes through its own political turmoil. The story is combined with that of their beloved Chile.

Their story is one of endless hardships and triumphs. So much is timely, especially seeing how the concept of cruel concentration camps has been utilized by oppressors in so many situations.

As a reader and historian, I loved the book, I loved the characters. I can’t wait to share this with book groups. It can be utilized in history courses because of the precision of the writer in recalling Latin American history.

This was a pleasure and a privilege to read and review.

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