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In nineteenth-century Chile, Aurora del Valle suffers a brutal trauma that erases all recollections of the first five years of her life. Raised by her regal and ambitious grandmother Paulina del Valle, Aurora grows up in a privileged environment but is tormented by horrible nightmares. When she is forced to recognize her betrayal at the hands of the man she loves, and to cope with the resulting solitude, she explores the mystery of her past.

Published: HarperCollins on Mar 25, 2014
ISBN: 9780062254436
List price: $11.99
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This book is much quicker and not as beautifully written as its predecessor, but it finishes the original story nicely. It is more of a continuation of Daughter of Fortune than a novel that can stand out on its own. I would have been disappointed to read DoF without having a more final ending to the story and Portrait in Sepia does that.read more
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Allende creates such interesting and flamboyant characters.read more
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Quite a ride! Portrait in Sepia is as enthralling as any American soap opera, with beautiful women and reluctant lovers and mismatched husbands and wives. Portrait in Sepia is more than a great tale with intriguing characters and inventive plot twists, though. It's also a thoughtful look at the blending of cultures and ethnicities and the difficulties and joys the blending brings.Note: I'd not realized Sepia is a sequel; I wish I'd known this and read Daughter of Fortune first.read more
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This book is much quicker and not as beautifully written as its predecessor, but it finishes the original story nicely. It is more of a continuation of Daughter of Fortune than a novel that can stand out on its own. I would have been disappointed to read DoF without having a more final ending to the story and Portrait in Sepia does that.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Allende creates such interesting and flamboyant characters.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Quite a ride! Portrait in Sepia is as enthralling as any American soap opera, with beautiful women and reluctant lovers and mismatched husbands and wives. Portrait in Sepia is more than a great tale with intriguing characters and inventive plot twists, though. It's also a thoughtful look at the blending of cultures and ethnicities and the difficulties and joys the blending brings.Note: I'd not realized Sepia is a sequel; I wish I'd known this and read Daughter of Fortune first.
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Isabel Allende has written a trilogy of novels that span the history of Chile from 1843 to the 1960s. The first one she wrote, House of the Spirits, was actually the last in the series. Then came, in order of publication, Daughter of Fortune, which was chronologically the first, and introduced a family that would become important in the rest of the story. In 2001, she published the linchpin book, Portrait in Sepia, which spans the period from 1862 to pre-World War I.The hallmark of all these stories is the presence of strong women, all of whom defied the conventionality of the time and went on to do what they wanted with their lives. Although Portrait in Sepia is narrated by Aurora, the granddaughter of one of the characters who appears in Daughter of Fortune, the central character of the story is Paulina del Valle, an eccentric, imperious woman who is in incredibly sharp businesswoman, living in San Francisco at the story’s opening. Eventually, she and Aurora live in Chile, surviving two wars.The history that forms the background against which the characters move is fascinating. Not only do we get the political and military history, but also the customs, attitudes and social mores of the various levels of Chilean society during that time.But nothing compares with the characters that Allende draws, especially the women, both conventional and non-conventional. It is through their eyes that we learn what is occurring politically, through their eyes that we see the outcomes, through their eyes that we observe the movers and shakers of Chile.Portrait in Sepia doesn’t have any magical realism in it, but it doesn’t need it--the events of the times are bizarre enough without any fabrication. And Allende can write. I was born in the early morning, but in Chinatown the clocks obey no rules, and at that hour the market, the cart traffic, the woeful barking of caged dogs awaiting the butcher’s cleaver, were beginning to heat up.Not only is she wonderfully descriptive, but powerfully imaginative, incorporating eccentric details into the story that leave you marveling.Portrait in Sepia is worth reading if only for the history, but the central characters are unforgettable, and some of them will go on to their fates in House of the Spirits .Highly recommended.
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south american lady (after many hardships) marries chinese herbalist. (second book after daughter of fortune? can't remember) lots of bigotrygreat read. couldn't put it down. third book of isabel allende; want to read more of her books
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I like Isabelle Allende. She's a wonderful storyteller of sweeping epics populated with people who might appear ordinary, but are far from it. Reading her books feels to me like sitting with my Mississippi grandmother & her sisters listening to their stories of my family's history (everybody's family has some magic in it).I enjoyed this book which tells the story of Aurora del Valle & the secrets her family kept from her. Throughout the story we meet the usual contingent of whacky aunts & uncles, gentlemen callers, & strong women who defy their time & society's limitations. The book was partly set in San Francisco & I liked that, too, although I think she writes about Chile with more conviction than she does about the Bay Area.I agree with those felt that this wasn't Allende's best work. Certainly when compared to The House of the Spirits or Eva Luna, it lacks something undefinable, but perhaps soul is the correct word. I was struck by the narrator's claim at the end:"Each of us chooses the tone for telling his or her own story; I would like to choose the durable clarity of a platinum print, but nothing in my destiny possesses that luminosity. I live among diffuse shadings, veiled mysteries, uncertainties; the tone for telilng my life is closer to that of a portrait in sepia."Maybe that's the ultimate problem - this narrator's voice lacks the vibrancy of others the author has written. A good read, but not outstanding.
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