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Here, in an astonishing debut by a gifted storyteller, is the magnificent saga of proud and passionate men and women and the turbulent times through which they suffer and triumph. They are the Truebas. And theirs is a world you will not want to leave, and one you will not forget.Esteban -- The patriarch, a volatile and proud man whose lust for land is legendary and who is haunted by his tyrannical passion for the wife he can never completely possess.Clara -- The matriarch, elusive and mysterious, who foretells family tragedy and shapes the fortunes of the house of the Truebas.Blanca -- Their daughter, soft-spoken yet rebellious, whose shocking love for the son of her father's foreman fuels Esteban's everlasting contempt... even as it produces the grandchild he adores.Alba -- The fruit of Blanca's forbidden love, a luminous bearty, a fiery and willful woman... the family's break with the past and link to the future.
Published: Random House Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on
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Availability for The House of the Spirits
    I actually never finished it. It was never compelling enough to entice me to read it, and I eventually became tired of the long narratives.more
    i LOVED this book! it introduced me to magic realism as a genre. it's set in chile and goes through the life and a couple generations of one family, including relationships and a political rebellion. love her style of writing!more
    Isabel Allende really writes about the truth and heart of her characters. I thought this book was beautiful, and magical, the "magical realism" everyone talks about. Truthfully, I didn't think I would like it very much, so I was surprised when I liked it right off the bat. Notes from family journals comprise the story of 4 generations. There are things I hated about characters, and things I loved. It really made me want to read more by her. I think if I wasn't sick when I read it I would have liked it more too, I wouldn't have skimmed (I blame that on the Benadryl.) But truly, I liked the undertones, the author's voice, and I'm anxious to read more.more
    one of the best I have read to Isabel Allende....
    i like the spiritual sides in Clara character.....
    beauty and sensitivity of Rosa...
    and Jaime loneliness......more
    This book tells the story of a family through several generations. There are a number of polarized perspectives and clashes (young versus old, practical versus spiritual, rich vs poor, etc.). As we watch events unfold over time we can see how these dichotomous strong opinions/ perspectives seemed important to the person holding it at one moment in time but are later viewed as futile. The book concludes with a very optimistic message of forgiveness and how it's more important than anything else because it's what breaks down the destructive patterns that are formed by these strong opinions.more
    This was my first book from Isabel Allende, I didn't know what to expect. She's a great story-teller and mixes historical fact with old wive's tales and the supernatural very well. I read it in about 3-4 days. I couldn't put the book down. Her writing is also very descriptive and vivid. Too bad Hollywood did a bad job on the movie version of it.more
    I don't know why it took me so long to read Allende's first book! Just like all her others, she weaves a beautiful story that spans generations of strong, magical women in the midst of revolution. I highly recommend this novel.more
    This is a book I have often heard people reference throughout the years, but that I never took time to read. It wasn't until I read Like Water for Chocolate that it came to my attention through a member recommendation on Librarything. I have really mixed feelings about this novel. First off I think it is safe to say that I am not really a fan of the magical realism genre. While I enjoyed the Allende's character development throughout, I was a bit annoyed by the "magical" aspects of the novel. Allende does a fantastic job of weaving the tale of three generations of the Trueba family from Chile with a great socio-political discussion throughout. The author's use of both the first and third person point of view as well as the way she tells the story in a non-chronological way in addition to the depth of character development make it a well written novel. However, I found after the first 200 pages that I had to force myself to finish reading it. At some points the narrative seems to drag and overall I did not find the book either entertaining or a piece of literature that teaches us about the human condition as much as it teaches us about society as a whole. I was a bit disappointed by this book.more
    Excellent read that chronicles four generations of a family living in Chile. Politics is brilliantly weaved throughout the story when the author alludes to the Pinochet regime and the onset of political violence. This book is a wonderful example of magical realism, a genre that mixes reality with the fantastical.more
    I came across this novel after having read several works by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, most notably Love in the Time of Cholera. I found this novel to be so similar in style and substance to the aforementioned work as to be remarkable. Inasmuch as I enjoyed LitToC immensely, that is a good thing. Both novels are set in early 20th century South America and feature aspects of magical realism for which Marquez is justly famous.The novel revolves around three generations of the Trueba family, a well to do clan anchored by an irascible patriarch, Estaban. The story tracks the political metamorphosis of the South American country of Chile, from autocratic conservative democracy through a period of Socialist revolution and finally to Fascist military dictatorship. Inasmuch as the author of this work is Isabel Allende, a close relative of the former President of Chile before the military junta led by Augusto Pinchet took control of the country, perhaps we can read this as something of a thinly veiled historical account.Alternating between the first person account of the aforementioned Estaban and the more prevalent third person narrative, the reader is introduced to a procession of highly interesting characters, including successively more liberal and independent generations of the Trueba family, both legitimate and the bastard offspring of his country estate. The prose is sprinkled throughout with foreshadowing and brilliant imagery. This is an absolutely top class piece of work, both in the quality of the writing and the history and political lesson contained therein. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in South America, politics or who has enjoyed the writings of Marquez.more
    As I finish this book, it is New Years' Eve. It has been a good reading year.My opinion of 'The House of the Spirits' has fluctuated greatly during the time I spent on it. Starting out, the personalities of the characters enthralled me; if anything, Allende seems to be an immensely empathic author with a keen sense for the subtleties of the human soul. I also felt, though, that the entire frame of the novel was very evocative of García Marquez' epic 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'. A story spanning several generations, magical-realistic elements, in the background, history quietly goes about its business. I almost got the idea that Isabel Allende had tried to make a Chilean version of the same story, but had failed matching up to Marquez' subtle style. As the end of the novel drew near, though, it started to come together. Especially the immensely sad and beautiful story of Esteban Trueba's decline I won't forget lightly. The goal of the novel became, at once, extremely clear to me. In the end, I would call Isabel Allende a writer who doesn't (and shouldn't) depend on sublime stylistic elements, but on the radiant energy and reality of the people she writes about. There are those that would say that 'The House of the Spirits' is indeed based on real people and real events, and they might be right. Still, the depth and vibrant colour in which Allende paints her characters make her a truly great author.more
    This is a classic example of a book which - were it not for my book club - I would likely never have picked up. What a gem I would have missed! This is an amazing novel - by turns tender, magical, lucid, violent and tragic. It has left me wanting to learn a lot more about the history of Chile during the 20th century, and opened a window for me into South American culture. Loved it.more
    Such a beautiful book with trully engaging story lines.more
    I wanted to like this, but found myself liking the book less and less as I turned the pages. It may just be that Magical Realism isn't a technique that resonates with me--though I hope it's just Allende's use of it I don't like, and I'm determined to try Borges, García Márquez, and Vargas Llosa someday. I did enjoy Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate, which used this technique, although it's no favorite. But there at least the fantasy elements were woven smoothly throughout and it was apt in a book very much constructed as a fairy tale, complete with three sisters. The fantastic whimsy in House of the Spirits, which opens in the beginning of the 20th Century in Chile, feels more out of place. This is a story where "The Beautiful Rosa" of the first chapter was born with green hair and yellow eyes, where her sister Clara was a clairvoyant who made true prophesies and moved objects with her mind and their Uncle Mario constructed from a kit a flapping mechanical bird in which he flew away. But it's also a novel where Clara's future husband Esteban Trueba raped and impregnated just abut every young teen peasant girl in the area, had killed any peasant that opposed him, and where his granddaughter Alba endures rape and torture. I don't know enough to know if the mixture of the horrifying and the whimsical is typical in magical realism, but I do know the light-hearted and dark in the novel didn't for me blend well. It doesn't help that the repellant Esteban is the closest thing to a protagonist in the book, the character that connects every character to each other, and the story that is mostly told in a third person/omniscient perspective is frequently punctuated by his (singularly unreliable) first person narrative. Beyond that, I admit I found the socialist polemic obvious in this book distasteful.more
    This is an epic tale following several generations of one dysfunctional family: the wealthy Trueba family of Chile. There story is set against the trials and tribulations of 20th-century Chile leading up to the Pinochet dictatorship (although Pinochet and other real-life characters are never mentioned by name) creating an historical novel with a touch of magical realism. Esteban Trueba is the patriarch of the family, a hot-headed character who rapes and abuses the tenants of his estate and when he's unable to control his family, channels his angry energy into right-wing politics. His wife Clara is a clairvoyant and more-focused on spiritualism and the afterlife than the world around her, yet holds her family together all the same. Their daughter Blanca causes scandal by her affair with the son of her father's foreman Pedro Tercero García. Their daughter is Alba who will go on to get involved with the socialist revolutionaries.The book's strength is its characters and Allende manages to make each of them sympathetic, even the loathsome Esteban Trueba. It's also subtle in how it builds up to the revolutions of the 1970s. For much of the book, the characters seem aloof from the political nature of Chile so it's quite shocking how they are thrust into major roles in the later chapters.This is an excellent book, a deserved classic, and definitely one of the best books I've read this year.more
    This was an ok read about different generations of one family. Overall, the characters were well described, but the parts with the visions and ghosts could have been left out as far as I'm concerned.more
    I borrowed this book from a friend and had it for a long, long time before I finally go to it. When I actually started this book my first reaction was, what was I waiting for??Spanning four generations of the del Valle family, The House of the Spirits is an amazing family saga based in South America in the twentieth century. Clara del Valle is a young girl who is able to predict every event in her life although not able to change the future. When her uncle Marcos dies and his body is delivered to her house, along with a puppy called Barrábas, Clara decides to start keeping a journal, which is later used by her husband Esteban and granddaughter Alba to piece together the story of their family. Clara's sister, Rosa the beautiful is engaged to Esteban Trueba, until one day she is accidentally poisoned instead of her father. Esteban continues to work hard and through his determination makes a fortune out of his estate, Trés Marias. Nine years later he returns to the city and visits the del Valle family again. This time he gets engaged to Clara and the two get married. From then on, this compelling story continues to detail the lives of the del Valle / Trueba family as well as the social and political ongoings of the country. The female characters in this book make this a magical, yet heart wrenching story. There is just something special about Clara, and later Alba that gives you an entrancing feeling. This was a completely different culture and a whole new world for me, but it amazes me how people are always looking for the same thing no matter where they are - freedom. The peasants at Trés Marias are a perfect example of this, where the fight between the social classes is so evident and this book gives you a view from both angles. Until the very end of the book I couldn't decide whether I liked or hated Esteban Trueba. The way he oppressed the peasants and the way he treated his wife at times was definitely hateful, but there was also something that drew me to him, in his determination, the way he wanted to protect his family and the relationship he had with his granddaughter Alba. Most of all in this book, I liked how the personal and political aspects are woven together in a novel that analyzes the changes in the different generations of the family as well as those happening in the country, with the magical touch of the del Valle family to enhance the story but not ruin it with unrealistic occurrences.I've always heard good things about Isabel Allende and I am glad that I finally got to read this one. I am looking forward to reading more books by Allende, especially Zorro, which is another book I've had in my to-read list for a very long time!more
    This is going to be a strange book review. It’s more about the author than the book. After reading her account in the autobiographical Paula, I knew I had to read The House of the Spirits. In Paula, Allende writes about a goodbye letter to her beloved grandfather in Chile: “…I wanted to tell him not to worry, that nothing would be lost of the treasury of anecdotes he had told me through the years of our comradeship; I had forgotten nothing. Soon he died, but the story I had begun to tell had enmeshed me, and I couldn’t stop. Other voices were speaking through me; I was writing in a trance, with the sensation of unwinding a ball of yarn, driven by the same urgency I feel as I write now. At the end of a year the pages had grown to five hundred, filling a canvas bag, and I realized that this was no longer a letter. Timidly, I announced to my family that I had written a book.."Allende began her “letter” on January 8, 1992, and it had such an impact on her that all her subsequent books begin their conception on January 8. Just as Allende wrote in a trance, I read this phenomenal book in a trancelike state. I’m usually a fast reader, but I read this one slowly, savoring each turn of phrase and each magical character. Make no mistake, there are lots of characters in the sprawling Trueba clan, based on the author’s own family in Chile. She uses her imagination to flesh out a dreamlike story; however, it’s a legendary story based on truth. The fictionalized version is based on Clara’s notebooks “that bore witness to life.” The true version is based on the all too real uprising in 1973 wherein the author’s uncle Chilean President Salvador Allende was assassinated and the horror of Pinochet’s dictatorship began. The political unrest is a constant clamor throughout the book reminding us that real people suffer during the lifechanging chaotic events that become the dry facts of history.I’m a big fan of good historical fiction, and this is one of the best that I’ve read. It’s truly a journey into another place and time that firmly establishes Allende as one of my most-admired writers. It is my fortune that she is a prolific writer as well, and I’ve barely begun reading her oeuvre. Highly recommended to readers who like to get lost in a spellbinding story.more
    This book was read in November 1999 and discussed over our Christmas dinner. We were completely absorbed by this story that spans 4 generations of life of the Trueba family. This was actually based on the life of the author's own family and of politics in Chile. It was Allende's first novel and it stimulated a lot of discussion in our group.more
    I read this book about 20 years ago in London & Lauren recently reminded me of it. It was beautifully written, very lyrical & absorbing. I love the strength of the women in it, I think I may go back & re-read it, I'm sure it will hit me completely differently now I'm married with children & live in the US.more
    This novel places focus on one of the most important things life can offer, family. This novel is about 3 generations of stong women who are determined to not be held down by their masculine society. This is shown through their actions, such as Clara leaving after being hit, Blanca running away from her first husband after seeing what he did to the Indigenous people, and Alba who survives the Chilian equivalent to a concentration camp. This is a must read, for it opens ones eyes to the corruption of society.more
    There is an important difference between a literary family saga and soap that is to do with the purpose of the writing. Allende's writing is highly accessible, lively and entertaining, the characters are bold and deep, the story engrossing but the clinching factor is that the whole book presents a sweeping panorama of South American culture and society. There is a drop of magical realism and the purpose, I think, is not to provide a story totally founded in perfect verisimilitude but to build a mythical representative saga, The book covers four generations of the Trueba family focussing primarily on the despotic hero or anti-hero, depending on your political bent, Esteban Trueba. Personally I found him a revolting character as I have little regard for unpredictable right-wing bullies, but others may find his work ethic and powerful personality more sympathetic. The saga encompasses the extreme political tensions of a typical South American country and the peoples vulnerability to unstable government and natural disasters. Idealism and corruption are counterpointed to the disdvantage of the weak and poor irrespective of the political faction in control of the countries politics. This is a juicy, fabulous, rich novel that leaves you recalling a series of affecting scenes.more
    I am almost done with this book, and I am truly captivated by the story. It has taken me a while to read, and it was a different pace from books I am used to reading, so it took me a little while to figure out the characters, (although there is a guide in the front).....but now that i've read about the characters, and you follow the characters through generations, it gives you the feeling of how important family is to latin american life. Having lived abroad in Spanish speaking countries, you really get a feeling in writing for their lifes.more
    A look into the life of a family in Chile. The story covers several generations of the Treuba family, through the highs and lows of finances, political struggle, and revolution. A hint of mysticism runs in the family in the form of speaking with spirits and glimpses of the future. We see the coutry's stuggling political changes through the eyes of Esteban Trueba and the journals of his wife Clara, who took detailed journals of her life. We see the familly struggles as the times change and traditions are rewrittin in the eyes of the younger generation. There is discord and arguments and emotional undonditional forgiveness, there is love at first sight and grudge held through many years that see shocking conclusions.The story of the Trueba family kept me captivated throughout the entire read. I will putting this book on my list of ones to read again in the future.more
    3 generations of women are the leads in this story. At first I wondered what the point of this book was. Where was the author going with her magical realism ramblings and in-depth character development? Allende has a real way with creating characters. This book is amazing. It's deep on so many levels -- the 3 women and their relationships with the men in their life, their levels of independence, battles for equality, and civil war in their country. I first read it when I was 14 but had to do so once again.more
    I read this book about half way and finally gave up. I found her pace and plot to be really frustrating. She would give endless seemingly inconsequential details, and drop and pick up traits of characters (like the twin brothers) that gave them no sense or trajectory. I found myself very annoyed and have put it aside.more
    The big problem I have with these "roman-fleuve" kinda family histories is that I get attached to a single permutation of the family and when they age and die, I have trouble feeling that the children/grand-children characters are as 3d as the ones I began with. This book has that issue, but it is otherwise consistently a joy.more
    Read all 52 reviews

    Reviews

    I actually never finished it. It was never compelling enough to entice me to read it, and I eventually became tired of the long narratives.more
    i LOVED this book! it introduced me to magic realism as a genre. it's set in chile and goes through the life and a couple generations of one family, including relationships and a political rebellion. love her style of writing!more
    Isabel Allende really writes about the truth and heart of her characters. I thought this book was beautiful, and magical, the "magical realism" everyone talks about. Truthfully, I didn't think I would like it very much, so I was surprised when I liked it right off the bat. Notes from family journals comprise the story of 4 generations. There are things I hated about characters, and things I loved. It really made me want to read more by her. I think if I wasn't sick when I read it I would have liked it more too, I wouldn't have skimmed (I blame that on the Benadryl.) But truly, I liked the undertones, the author's voice, and I'm anxious to read more.more
    one of the best I have read to Isabel Allende....
    i like the spiritual sides in Clara character.....
    beauty and sensitivity of Rosa...
    and Jaime loneliness......more
    This book tells the story of a family through several generations. There are a number of polarized perspectives and clashes (young versus old, practical versus spiritual, rich vs poor, etc.). As we watch events unfold over time we can see how these dichotomous strong opinions/ perspectives seemed important to the person holding it at one moment in time but are later viewed as futile. The book concludes with a very optimistic message of forgiveness and how it's more important than anything else because it's what breaks down the destructive patterns that are formed by these strong opinions.more
    This was my first book from Isabel Allende, I didn't know what to expect. She's a great story-teller and mixes historical fact with old wive's tales and the supernatural very well. I read it in about 3-4 days. I couldn't put the book down. Her writing is also very descriptive and vivid. Too bad Hollywood did a bad job on the movie version of it.more
    I don't know why it took me so long to read Allende's first book! Just like all her others, she weaves a beautiful story that spans generations of strong, magical women in the midst of revolution. I highly recommend this novel.more
    This is a book I have often heard people reference throughout the years, but that I never took time to read. It wasn't until I read Like Water for Chocolate that it came to my attention through a member recommendation on Librarything. I have really mixed feelings about this novel. First off I think it is safe to say that I am not really a fan of the magical realism genre. While I enjoyed the Allende's character development throughout, I was a bit annoyed by the "magical" aspects of the novel. Allende does a fantastic job of weaving the tale of three generations of the Trueba family from Chile with a great socio-political discussion throughout. The author's use of both the first and third person point of view as well as the way she tells the story in a non-chronological way in addition to the depth of character development make it a well written novel. However, I found after the first 200 pages that I had to force myself to finish reading it. At some points the narrative seems to drag and overall I did not find the book either entertaining or a piece of literature that teaches us about the human condition as much as it teaches us about society as a whole. I was a bit disappointed by this book.more
    Excellent read that chronicles four generations of a family living in Chile. Politics is brilliantly weaved throughout the story when the author alludes to the Pinochet regime and the onset of political violence. This book is a wonderful example of magical realism, a genre that mixes reality with the fantastical.more
    I came across this novel after having read several works by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, most notably Love in the Time of Cholera. I found this novel to be so similar in style and substance to the aforementioned work as to be remarkable. Inasmuch as I enjoyed LitToC immensely, that is a good thing. Both novels are set in early 20th century South America and feature aspects of magical realism for which Marquez is justly famous.The novel revolves around three generations of the Trueba family, a well to do clan anchored by an irascible patriarch, Estaban. The story tracks the political metamorphosis of the South American country of Chile, from autocratic conservative democracy through a period of Socialist revolution and finally to Fascist military dictatorship. Inasmuch as the author of this work is Isabel Allende, a close relative of the former President of Chile before the military junta led by Augusto Pinchet took control of the country, perhaps we can read this as something of a thinly veiled historical account.Alternating between the first person account of the aforementioned Estaban and the more prevalent third person narrative, the reader is introduced to a procession of highly interesting characters, including successively more liberal and independent generations of the Trueba family, both legitimate and the bastard offspring of his country estate. The prose is sprinkled throughout with foreshadowing and brilliant imagery. This is an absolutely top class piece of work, both in the quality of the writing and the history and political lesson contained therein. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in South America, politics or who has enjoyed the writings of Marquez.more
    As I finish this book, it is New Years' Eve. It has been a good reading year.My opinion of 'The House of the Spirits' has fluctuated greatly during the time I spent on it. Starting out, the personalities of the characters enthralled me; if anything, Allende seems to be an immensely empathic author with a keen sense for the subtleties of the human soul. I also felt, though, that the entire frame of the novel was very evocative of García Marquez' epic 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'. A story spanning several generations, magical-realistic elements, in the background, history quietly goes about its business. I almost got the idea that Isabel Allende had tried to make a Chilean version of the same story, but had failed matching up to Marquez' subtle style. As the end of the novel drew near, though, it started to come together. Especially the immensely sad and beautiful story of Esteban Trueba's decline I won't forget lightly. The goal of the novel became, at once, extremely clear to me. In the end, I would call Isabel Allende a writer who doesn't (and shouldn't) depend on sublime stylistic elements, but on the radiant energy and reality of the people she writes about. There are those that would say that 'The House of the Spirits' is indeed based on real people and real events, and they might be right. Still, the depth and vibrant colour in which Allende paints her characters make her a truly great author.more
    This is a classic example of a book which - were it not for my book club - I would likely never have picked up. What a gem I would have missed! This is an amazing novel - by turns tender, magical, lucid, violent and tragic. It has left me wanting to learn a lot more about the history of Chile during the 20th century, and opened a window for me into South American culture. Loved it.more
    Such a beautiful book with trully engaging story lines.more
    I wanted to like this, but found myself liking the book less and less as I turned the pages. It may just be that Magical Realism isn't a technique that resonates with me--though I hope it's just Allende's use of it I don't like, and I'm determined to try Borges, García Márquez, and Vargas Llosa someday. I did enjoy Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate, which used this technique, although it's no favorite. But there at least the fantasy elements were woven smoothly throughout and it was apt in a book very much constructed as a fairy tale, complete with three sisters. The fantastic whimsy in House of the Spirits, which opens in the beginning of the 20th Century in Chile, feels more out of place. This is a story where "The Beautiful Rosa" of the first chapter was born with green hair and yellow eyes, where her sister Clara was a clairvoyant who made true prophesies and moved objects with her mind and their Uncle Mario constructed from a kit a flapping mechanical bird in which he flew away. But it's also a novel where Clara's future husband Esteban Trueba raped and impregnated just abut every young teen peasant girl in the area, had killed any peasant that opposed him, and where his granddaughter Alba endures rape and torture. I don't know enough to know if the mixture of the horrifying and the whimsical is typical in magical realism, but I do know the light-hearted and dark in the novel didn't for me blend well. It doesn't help that the repellant Esteban is the closest thing to a protagonist in the book, the character that connects every character to each other, and the story that is mostly told in a third person/omniscient perspective is frequently punctuated by his (singularly unreliable) first person narrative. Beyond that, I admit I found the socialist polemic obvious in this book distasteful.more
    This is an epic tale following several generations of one dysfunctional family: the wealthy Trueba family of Chile. There story is set against the trials and tribulations of 20th-century Chile leading up to the Pinochet dictatorship (although Pinochet and other real-life characters are never mentioned by name) creating an historical novel with a touch of magical realism. Esteban Trueba is the patriarch of the family, a hot-headed character who rapes and abuses the tenants of his estate and when he's unable to control his family, channels his angry energy into right-wing politics. His wife Clara is a clairvoyant and more-focused on spiritualism and the afterlife than the world around her, yet holds her family together all the same. Their daughter Blanca causes scandal by her affair with the son of her father's foreman Pedro Tercero García. Their daughter is Alba who will go on to get involved with the socialist revolutionaries.The book's strength is its characters and Allende manages to make each of them sympathetic, even the loathsome Esteban Trueba. It's also subtle in how it builds up to the revolutions of the 1970s. For much of the book, the characters seem aloof from the political nature of Chile so it's quite shocking how they are thrust into major roles in the later chapters.This is an excellent book, a deserved classic, and definitely one of the best books I've read this year.more
    This was an ok read about different generations of one family. Overall, the characters were well described, but the parts with the visions and ghosts could have been left out as far as I'm concerned.more
    I borrowed this book from a friend and had it for a long, long time before I finally go to it. When I actually started this book my first reaction was, what was I waiting for??Spanning four generations of the del Valle family, The House of the Spirits is an amazing family saga based in South America in the twentieth century. Clara del Valle is a young girl who is able to predict every event in her life although not able to change the future. When her uncle Marcos dies and his body is delivered to her house, along with a puppy called Barrábas, Clara decides to start keeping a journal, which is later used by her husband Esteban and granddaughter Alba to piece together the story of their family. Clara's sister, Rosa the beautiful is engaged to Esteban Trueba, until one day she is accidentally poisoned instead of her father. Esteban continues to work hard and through his determination makes a fortune out of his estate, Trés Marias. Nine years later he returns to the city and visits the del Valle family again. This time he gets engaged to Clara and the two get married. From then on, this compelling story continues to detail the lives of the del Valle / Trueba family as well as the social and political ongoings of the country. The female characters in this book make this a magical, yet heart wrenching story. There is just something special about Clara, and later Alba that gives you an entrancing feeling. This was a completely different culture and a whole new world for me, but it amazes me how people are always looking for the same thing no matter where they are - freedom. The peasants at Trés Marias are a perfect example of this, where the fight between the social classes is so evident and this book gives you a view from both angles. Until the very end of the book I couldn't decide whether I liked or hated Esteban Trueba. The way he oppressed the peasants and the way he treated his wife at times was definitely hateful, but there was also something that drew me to him, in his determination, the way he wanted to protect his family and the relationship he had with his granddaughter Alba. Most of all in this book, I liked how the personal and political aspects are woven together in a novel that analyzes the changes in the different generations of the family as well as those happening in the country, with the magical touch of the del Valle family to enhance the story but not ruin it with unrealistic occurrences.I've always heard good things about Isabel Allende and I am glad that I finally got to read this one. I am looking forward to reading more books by Allende, especially Zorro, which is another book I've had in my to-read list for a very long time!more
    This is going to be a strange book review. It’s more about the author than the book. After reading her account in the autobiographical Paula, I knew I had to read The House of the Spirits. In Paula, Allende writes about a goodbye letter to her beloved grandfather in Chile: “…I wanted to tell him not to worry, that nothing would be lost of the treasury of anecdotes he had told me through the years of our comradeship; I had forgotten nothing. Soon he died, but the story I had begun to tell had enmeshed me, and I couldn’t stop. Other voices were speaking through me; I was writing in a trance, with the sensation of unwinding a ball of yarn, driven by the same urgency I feel as I write now. At the end of a year the pages had grown to five hundred, filling a canvas bag, and I realized that this was no longer a letter. Timidly, I announced to my family that I had written a book.."Allende began her “letter” on January 8, 1992, and it had such an impact on her that all her subsequent books begin their conception on January 8. Just as Allende wrote in a trance, I read this phenomenal book in a trancelike state. I’m usually a fast reader, but I read this one slowly, savoring each turn of phrase and each magical character. Make no mistake, there are lots of characters in the sprawling Trueba clan, based on the author’s own family in Chile. She uses her imagination to flesh out a dreamlike story; however, it’s a legendary story based on truth. The fictionalized version is based on Clara’s notebooks “that bore witness to life.” The true version is based on the all too real uprising in 1973 wherein the author’s uncle Chilean President Salvador Allende was assassinated and the horror of Pinochet’s dictatorship began. The political unrest is a constant clamor throughout the book reminding us that real people suffer during the lifechanging chaotic events that become the dry facts of history.I’m a big fan of good historical fiction, and this is one of the best that I’ve read. It’s truly a journey into another place and time that firmly establishes Allende as one of my most-admired writers. It is my fortune that she is a prolific writer as well, and I’ve barely begun reading her oeuvre. Highly recommended to readers who like to get lost in a spellbinding story.more
    This book was read in November 1999 and discussed over our Christmas dinner. We were completely absorbed by this story that spans 4 generations of life of the Trueba family. This was actually based on the life of the author's own family and of politics in Chile. It was Allende's first novel and it stimulated a lot of discussion in our group.more
    I read this book about 20 years ago in London & Lauren recently reminded me of it. It was beautifully written, very lyrical & absorbing. I love the strength of the women in it, I think I may go back & re-read it, I'm sure it will hit me completely differently now I'm married with children & live in the US.more
    This novel places focus on one of the most important things life can offer, family. This novel is about 3 generations of stong women who are determined to not be held down by their masculine society. This is shown through their actions, such as Clara leaving after being hit, Blanca running away from her first husband after seeing what he did to the Indigenous people, and Alba who survives the Chilian equivalent to a concentration camp. This is a must read, for it opens ones eyes to the corruption of society.more
    There is an important difference between a literary family saga and soap that is to do with the purpose of the writing. Allende's writing is highly accessible, lively and entertaining, the characters are bold and deep, the story engrossing but the clinching factor is that the whole book presents a sweeping panorama of South American culture and society. There is a drop of magical realism and the purpose, I think, is not to provide a story totally founded in perfect verisimilitude but to build a mythical representative saga, The book covers four generations of the Trueba family focussing primarily on the despotic hero or anti-hero, depending on your political bent, Esteban Trueba. Personally I found him a revolting character as I have little regard for unpredictable right-wing bullies, but others may find his work ethic and powerful personality more sympathetic. The saga encompasses the extreme political tensions of a typical South American country and the peoples vulnerability to unstable government and natural disasters. Idealism and corruption are counterpointed to the disdvantage of the weak and poor irrespective of the political faction in control of the countries politics. This is a juicy, fabulous, rich novel that leaves you recalling a series of affecting scenes.more
    I am almost done with this book, and I am truly captivated by the story. It has taken me a while to read, and it was a different pace from books I am used to reading, so it took me a little while to figure out the characters, (although there is a guide in the front).....but now that i've read about the characters, and you follow the characters through generations, it gives you the feeling of how important family is to latin american life. Having lived abroad in Spanish speaking countries, you really get a feeling in writing for their lifes.more
    A look into the life of a family in Chile. The story covers several generations of the Treuba family, through the highs and lows of finances, political struggle, and revolution. A hint of mysticism runs in the family in the form of speaking with spirits and glimpses of the future. We see the coutry's stuggling political changes through the eyes of Esteban Trueba and the journals of his wife Clara, who took detailed journals of her life. We see the familly struggles as the times change and traditions are rewrittin in the eyes of the younger generation. There is discord and arguments and emotional undonditional forgiveness, there is love at first sight and grudge held through many years that see shocking conclusions.The story of the Trueba family kept me captivated throughout the entire read. I will putting this book on my list of ones to read again in the future.more
    3 generations of women are the leads in this story. At first I wondered what the point of this book was. Where was the author going with her magical realism ramblings and in-depth character development? Allende has a real way with creating characters. This book is amazing. It's deep on so many levels -- the 3 women and their relationships with the men in their life, their levels of independence, battles for equality, and civil war in their country. I first read it when I was 14 but had to do so once again.more
    I read this book about half way and finally gave up. I found her pace and plot to be really frustrating. She would give endless seemingly inconsequential details, and drop and pick up traits of characters (like the twin brothers) that gave them no sense or trajectory. I found myself very annoyed and have put it aside.more
    The big problem I have with these "roman-fleuve" kinda family histories is that I get attached to a single permutation of the family and when they age and die, I have trouble feeling that the children/grand-children characters are as 3d as the ones I began with. This book has that issue, but it is otherwise consistently a joy.more
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