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1. Island Beneath the Sea: A Novel
2. La isla bajo el mar (Vintage Espanol)
3. The House of the Spirits
4. Ines of My Soul: A Novel
5. Paula: A Memoir (P.S.)
6. The Sum of Our Days: A Memoir
7. Paula (Spanish Edition)
8. Zorro SPA: Una Novela (Spanish
9. Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses
10. Zorro: A Novel (P.S.)
11. De amor y de sombra (Spanish Edition)
12. Eva Luna
13. La casa de los espíritus
14. The Infinite Plan: A Novel (P.S.)
15. Inés del Alma Mía: Novela (Spanish
16. My Invented Country: A Memoir
17. The Stories of Eva Luna
18. Eva Luna (Spanish Language Edition)
19. Daughter of Fortune: A Novel (P.S.)
20. La suma de los dias (Spanish Edition)

1. Island Beneath the Sea: A Novel
by Isabel Allende
Hardcover: 464 Pages (2010-05-01)
list price: US$26.99 -- used & new: US$14.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061988243
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

Born a slave on the island of Saint-Domingue, ZaritÉ -- known as TÉtÉ -- is the daughter of an African mother she never knew and one of the white sailors who brought her into bondage. Though her childhood is one of brutality and fear, TÉtÉ finds solace in the traditional rhythms of African drums and in the voodoo loas she discovers through her fellow slaves.

When twenty-year-old Toulouse Valmorain arrives on the island in 1770, it’s with powdered wigs in his baggage and dreams of financial success in his mind. But running his father’s plantation, Saint Lazare, is neither glamorous nor easy. It will be eight years before he brings home a bride -- but marriage, too, proves more difficult than he imagined. And Valmorain remains dependent on the services of his teenaged slave.

Spanning four decades, Island Beneath the Sea is the moving story of the intertwined lives of TÉtÉ and Valmorain, and of one woman’s determination to find love amid loss, to offer humanity though her own has been battered, and to forge her own identity in the cruellest of circumstances.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (55)

4-0 out of 5 stars A god read but....
I am finishing this book right now.It is very good, well researched and it is Isabel Allende after all.However, I have also read Madison Smartt Bell's trilogy of novels on the same period, though all confined to events and characters in Haiti, which covered this ground in the detail it truly deserves.Allende wanted to write a good book and she did.Bell on the other hand wrote three great books which are much more compelling.Do read this book but afterwards, somewhere down the road, read Bell's books, "All Souls Rising", "Master Of The Crossroads" and "The Stone That The Builder Refused"...I caution you all that Bell did not sugar coat it about Haiti/Sainte Domingue, so if you have a weak constitution or if you don't like big books you probably won't like them but you will be missing something special.

What is different about this book is the change in venue to Cuba for a short period of time and then to New Orleans, showing the difference in the view of slavery and race relations in three different places and cultures.This was very interesting and very subtly done.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good characters set in realistic historical fiction
The setting of the sugar plantations in early Haiti became very real as did early New Orleans.I felt the characters were honestly drawn and believable.Obviously the author has done her research on the historical events of the time.My only complaint was that there were a few too many times when coincidence played too large a part.What are the chances of meeting up with "long lost" lovers, sons, daughters after many years and many miles.However, that did not take away from an engrossing read.Another good read from Allende.

4-0 out of 5 stars A dramatic history of Haiti
Isabel Allende's "Island Beneath the Sea" has certainly resulted from extensive research. The way she designs and develops characters is extremely skilfull. And through them, from very different perspectives, the history of Haiti is told in a very absorbing and dramatic way. It is not a book to be read in a week. It takes time to be digested and you got to follow the books rhythm, which is not at all fast. The cruelty of slavery, the inhumanity of Spanish and French conquerors exploitation of their colonies, as well as the roots of slavery in America, all such tragic issues are exposed with no disguise. There are certainly other Allende's novels easier to read and savour. But reading "Island Beneath the Sea" is imperative for all of us, especially for those who care for a future better world. Having in mind what men have been able to do may give us a chance not to do it again.

4-0 out of 5 stars This book vs "Uncle Tom's Cabin"
First, "Island beneath the sea" means dead, this is where the dead go in some negro religion, probably voodoo although not explicitly stated in the novel. It is a good title for the book, there are many dead, all supporting characters, not the main character. The time is in the 1790's, before and after the revolution in Haiti. Prosper Cambray was the manager of Toulouse Valmorain's plantation, similar to Simon Legree in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" but that is the only comparison, Cambray's actions make Legree look like a pussycat in comparison in their treatment of the slaves. The island is Espaniola, and covers both Santo Domingo and Haiti, one French, the other Spanish. The American novel is a later time period but it is not the changing world that makes the difference, it is the price of slaves. Negro slaves in Central and South America are cheap, their lives worth little so they are worked to death in a few years and new slaves bought. In the United States slaves were expensive so it paid to keep them alive, to breed them and sell the offspring, requiring a differnt handling. With so many new slaves arriving in Espaniola escape was common, there were few owners compared to the slaves, miscegenationoccurred and the cross breeds felt themselves better than the pure negros, many were free, put onairs, and those with the greater percentage of white blood considered themselves better than those with fewer white genes. The revolt of the slaves occurs and minor mention is made of it, the novel concerns itself with the departure of the whites, the mistakes of the mixed races, and the deaths of many of the supporting characters. The slaves chased out all the non-slaves, ridding themselves of the leaders and innovators in their society in order to be free and losing the capacity to advance their society. The novel drops Haiti and picks up the main characters in New Orleans and ends with a few more deaths in keeping with the title.
What downgrades the book is having the heroine 'see' the gods of voodoo, have the negro music take over her actions and dance in ecstasy, and have magic work. There is little of it but what little there is is unbelievable and unnecessary. Otherwise a good read.

5-0 out of 5 stars A life experience thrill ride!
Isabel Allende has done it again!!!I could barely put the book down to get much needed sleep...I read it so fast I will read it again.Isabel is on the high list of my favorite authors ;-) ... Read more

2. La isla bajo el mar (Vintage Espanol) (Spanish Edition)
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 512 Pages (2010-08-31)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$9.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0307476057
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Para ser una esclava en el Saint-Domingue de finales del siglo XVIII, Zarité había tenido buena estrella: a los nueve años fue vendida a Toulouse Valmorain, un rico terrateniente, pero no conoció ni el agotamiento de las plantaciones de caña ni la asfixia y el sufrimiento de los trapiches, porque siempre fue una esclava doméstica. Su bondad natural, fortaleza de espíritu y honradez le permitieron compartir los secretos y la espiritualidad que ayudaban a sobrevivir a los suyos, los esclavos, y conocer las miserias de los amos, los blancos. Zarité se convirtió en el centro de un microcosmos que era un reflejo del mundo de la colonia: el amo Valmorain, su frágil esposa española y su sensible hijo Maurice, el sabio Parmentier, el militar Relais y la cortesana mulata Violette, Tante Rose, la curandera, Gambo, el apuesto esclavo rebelde… y otros personajes de una cruel conflagración que acabaría arrasando su tierra y lanzándolos lejos de ella. Al ser llevada por su amo a Nueva Orleans, Zarité inició una nueva etapa en la que alcanzaría su mayor aspiración: la libertad. Más allá del dolor y del amor, de la sumisión y la independencia, de sus deseos y los que le habían impuesto a lo largo de su vida, Zarité podía contemplarla con serenidad y concluir que había tenido buena estrella.

From the Hardcover edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

4-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
Great book so far !
I love the way Isabel Allende writes. Very detailed, very straight-forward !

5-0 out of 5 stars La isla bajo el mar. Un exente libro.
Este libro aparte del la historia que empalma, tiene algo mas para hacer pensar, es darnos cuenta de como no hemos superado aun en estos tiempos vivir con la diferencia
la discriminación, el clasismo y la esclavitud que aun persisten en estos momentos, con otros terminos, con un enfoque diferente, pero discretamente aqui con nosotros.
Es un libro para refelxionar massobre lo que nos pasa en estos dias, no solo es para pasar el tiempo, aunque es una historia ficción, esta bien informada y te crea conciencia sobre el dolor humano, como hemos evolucionado y a la vez nos hemos estancado evadiendo todo el problma haciendonos que no sucede nada, pero a la vez todos sabemos que no. Muy buen libro, su redacción y es muy facil de leer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very interesting book
I enjoyed reading this book. The history of slavery in the Caribbean and in New Orleans is presented by the author from the point of view of a woman slave. It is enlightening and, also, very interesting. Allende has great skills as a narrator.

5-0 out of 5 stars Cautivante
Un libro cautivante de principio a fin, que dejan al lector con ganas de leer mas y mas.
La narrativa simplemente espectacular, narrado desde 2 perspectivas: la de Zarite y la del narrador. Un libro que sin duda alguna se convertira en un clasico, con tanto contenido de hechos veridicos e historicos que se amalgaman en perfecta armonia con la ficcion.

3-0 out of 5 stars Una buena historia pero con un final muy apurado
Yo he leido casi todos los libros de Isabel Allende pero este es uno que me decepciono al final.Despues de leer tan interesante y profunda historia, el libro tiene un final muy rapido, como si le acababan las paginas para escribir o tuviera un numero limitado de ellas.Todavia sigue siendo un relato emocionante y le di 3 porque no me gusto como finalizo la historia. Al menos que la autora este escribiendo la segunda parte de este libro.Eso esta por verse. ... Read more

3. The House of the Spirits
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 433 Pages (2005-08-30)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$5.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553383809
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
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.

From the Paperback edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (305)

5-0 out of 5 stars sweet as poetry, hypnotic in tone
This is one of the most whimsical, charmingand artful stories i've read in a while. Allende transports you through time, seeing and feeling through each of her characters, as if you were there. The cadence is rhythmic and melodic-- flowing through the words, which are meticulously and richly detailed.

4-0 out of 5 stars The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
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.

3-0 out of 5 stars Historically interesting, wacky characters.
It was difficult to get into this book because I didn't identify with any of the characters--every single one was bizarre.I only finished it because it was a selection of my book group.The historical background was interesting.

5-0 out of 5 stars lyric, beautiful and epic
Isabel Allende's masterpiece _The House of the Spirits_ follows several generations of the del Valle family through the twentieth century in an unnamed South American country.The story is told through 3 narrators: an unknown omnicient narrator, Esteban Trueba, a conservative patron, and (until the end of the book), an unknown woman.These three narrators relate the political and social happenings of their country, as well as the personal details of the family.I was consumed by the story.

To a large extent, Allende "out-Marquezes" Gabriel Marquez.His One Hundred Years of Solitude (P.S.) follows a similar theme, and is written in a similar genre (magical realism.)However, I found _The House of the Spirits_ both easier to read and much more interesting.There are supernatural elements of the story, especially within the house of which book is titled, as Clara (a del Valle daughter, and wife of Trueba) sees and speaks to spirits.But the book is muchmore than a genre piece - it is the narrative of continent, as the del Valle's (and Trueba's) struggles are a microcosom of Latin America: the conflict between liberals and conservatives, the endemic generations of fatherless children, the passion of youth and forbidden love across social classes, the tendency (especially in the 20th century) towards fascism and dictatorship.It is both beautiful and tragic, much like South America itself.

The scope and scale of the book alone would warrant high marks; that it is so lyrically written gives it 5 stars.A lesser story written with such ardor would also earn 5 stars from me.For example, writing of the political chaos that so often wracks that part of the world, she writes, "She did not understand the state of civil war, not did she realizt that war is the soldier's work of art, the administration of all their training, the gold medal of their profession.Soldiers are not made to shine in times of peace. ..." Allende, however has a messge for her countrymen, and finishes the book on a positive note with hope for the future, although perhaps with a bitter-sweet tone.Without spoiling the story, Allende tells us "It would be difficult ... to avenge all those who should be avenged, because ... revenge would just be another part of the same inexorable rite.(We)have to break that terrible chain."

_The House of the Spirits_ was the first book about the del Valle family, the saga which continues (through other branches of the family) in Daughter of Fortune: A Novel (P.S.) and Portrait in Sepia, although these are set earlier in time.While I immensely enjoyed these others, far and away _The House of the Spirits_ is my favorite.Enthusiastically recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Visionary View
This saga depicting the evolving generations of a family, is a visionary exploration of the psychology of family, culture, and state.

Filled with heartwarming, wrenching, and unexpected human stories and adventures, it keeps the reader riveted to it.

As Isabel Allende's first book it is a remarkable work of genius, as well as a window on another way of life, of such a richness that it is unforgettable.

It's one of those books to go back to again and again, for its beauty, and the brilliancy of its author. ... Read more

4. Ines of My Soul: A Novel
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 352 Pages (2007-09-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$8.06
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061161543
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

In the early years of the conquest of the Americas, Inés Suárez, a seamstress condemned to a life of toil, flees Spain to seek adventure in the New World. As Inés makes her way to Chile, she begins a fiery romance with Pedro de Valdivia, war hero and field marshal to the famed Francisco Pizarro. Together the lovers will build the new city of Santiago, and they will wage war against the indigenous Chileans—a bloody struggle that will change Inés and Valdivia forever, inexorably pulling each of them toward separate destinies.

Inés of My Soul is a work of breathtaking scope that masterfully dramatizes the known events of Inés Suárez's life, crafting them into a novel rich with the narrative brilliance and passion readers have come to expect from Isabel Allende.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (57)

3-0 out of 5 stars Unnecessarily brutal and descriptive
While this was a good story I found it to be unnecessarily brutal and disturbing.It also lacked the spirituality of Ms. Allende's best books and left me with a bad taste.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not Allende's best, but . . .
After reading House of Spirits and then Island Beneathe the sea, I felt I couldn't get enough Isabelle Allende and ordered Ines of My Soul.While a great read, rich in history, and as spectacularly researched as her other novels, it just wasn't the page-turner I was expecting.Ines had a hard time keeping my attention at times because there is barely dialog between characters.As the book unfolds, Ines is elderly and deciding to hurriedly put her adventurous life on paper before facing death.Her adventures are great, but the story is simply that, an elderly woman telling of her life.There is little dialog, but again, the history is expansive and made the book well worth the read.I highly, highly recommend Island Beneathe the Sea, and then House of Spirits.If you enjoy those books as much as I did definitely begin to work backwards to Allende's earlier works.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Told Historical Novel
This novel, about a little known and rather shameful period of European colonial history, is a thrilling and passionate human story of struggle, violence, privation and love.

It makes the conquest of parts of South America and the domination of the Aztecs, Mayans, and Mapuches, through the most cruel and unethical means, come to life again, through the experiences of the protagonist, one of the first female conquistadors to appear in the conflict.

For a look into a little known part of history that has been mostly ignored heretofore, the book is a must read, and along the way you will love the human side of it, the ways of life, passion, loss, and anguish of people in those lost times.

It is one of my all time favourites.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent - never a disappointment
I love the writings of Isabel Allende and this book was true to her excellent style of mixing place history with a good story. Highly recommended.

3-0 out of 5 stars NOT BAD
Ines of my soul is the second work of Allende's I have read. Sadly, I have still not read House of Spirits, her grand opus, but having read Eva Luna, I can say this is not bad at all.

Ines Suarez,a widow, who falls for the conqueror of Chile, Pedro de Valdivia is at once a heroine, villain, and pitiful creature. She embarks on a journey to find her husband, only to discover that he is dead. His demise now opens a window of opportunity, or should I say fate, that leads her to Pedro and together, they are inexorably linked to the founding of Chile. Ines is seen as a heroine, when she defends her beloved city from Indian invaders-indeed a very explicit account of decapitation by a woman, and yet we call them the weaker sex( hmm).She is vilified by the inquisition and other jealous Spaniards around for various reasons- her adulterous union with Pedro; her position as gobernodora; the lands and riches bequeath her etc. However, her treament by Valdivia was the point of pity. It took him three years to explain why he had left her,and this to me was his(Valdivia's) lowest point.

Pedro de Valvivia has been described by various history books, but suffice it to say here that he was purelya man of his time.One should not expect anything less.

As a historical account, the novel does brilliantly. In it I am able to capture the zeitgeist of sixteenth century Spain, the influence of the church, and the general hypocrisy that made women subservient and subjugated. Here, looting an enemy's camp, raping the women, and enslaving the populace, "for God, King and country", seems to be the prevaling mantra. In our modern society, not much has changed; the same attitudes prevail under a different guise; perhaps slavery, at least in the that form , does not exist; the new subterfuge being ,"emancipation of the people".This novel is quite instructive, assoldiers over the centuries have behaved the same way -Iraq, Afghanistan being the most recent apotheoses.

The only aspect I would criticise in the novel is the way it was written. I expected more in the use of language, a little more linguistic sophistication and magic realism that Allende is noted for. This I found a bit lacking in the novel as a whole. Was this deliberate? In trying to give a historical account of one woman's odyssey, where do language dexterity and wordplay become ends in themselves? There is beauty in simplicity, but then there is also beauty in how something is conveyed. Maybe that was the author's intention, to present this in a lay woman's words, without the sophistication that would be attributed to erudition.

As a whole, a good read. Entertaining and stimulating. It raises certain questions about love, fidelity, the concept of savagery and civilisation, and which of us possesses the more informed and enlightened approach. Everything is relative, and perhaps we are all mestizos :a complex amalgam of what is good and bad about the human race.

... Read more

5. Paula: A Memoir (P.S.)
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 368 Pages (2008-04-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$6.52
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061564907
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

When Isabel Allende's daughter, Paula, became gravely ill and fell into a coma, the author began to write the story of her family for her unconscious child. In the telling, bizarre ancestors appear before our eyes; we hear both delightful and bitter childhood memories, amazing anecdotes of youthful years, the most intimate secrets passed along in whispers. With Paula, Allende has written a powerful autobiography whose straightforward acceptance of the magical and spiritual worlds will remind readers of her first book, The House of the Spirits.

Amazon.com Review
"Listen, Paula. I am going to tell you a story so that when you wake up you will not feel so lost." So says Chilean writer Isabel Allende (The House of the Spirits) in the opening lines of the luminous, heart-rending memoir she wrote while her 28-year-old daughter Paula lay in a coma. In its pages, she ushers an assortment of outrageous relatives into the light: her stepfather, an amiable liar and tireless debater; grandmother Meme, blessed with second sight; and delinquent uncles who exultantly torment Allende and her brothers. Irony and marvelous flights of fantasy mix with the icy reality of Paula's deathly illness as Allende sketches childhood scenes in Chile and Lebanon; her uncle Salvatore Allende's reign and ruin as Chilean president; her struggles to shake off or find love; and her metamorphosis into a writer. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (102)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful memoir
The author wrote this to her daughter as her daughter lay dying.It's a beautiful piece of work and has historical significance as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary piece of writing
This book involves the slow death of Paula, actually Isabel Allenda's daughter and not fiction. As Paula is in the process of taking her last breaths her mother tells her the story of her life, which actually becomes an autobiography. We learn of the family background, of the complexities that reveal the characters, their relationship with one another and the effect in which their lives are bound together. Allende's writing frequently has metaphysical overtones. In her first novel, "The House of Spirits," she has a young girl with amazing physic abilities and a gift for foretelling the future which attracts many people to come to her in order to discover what lies ahead for them. After that the story enfolds with tension that powerfully draws the reader into it with such intensity that it is almost impossible to remove oneself from the power of Allende's words and the plot that she weaves out of her own life. She is constantly at Paula's bedside, watching her last days of life. In this book too, Isabel Allende has a character with physic ability, However this does not play as important a role as it does in "The House of Spirits." Isabel Allende has an enormous vocabulary. She writes with an intellectual insight, as she views her story both from the objective and the subjective point of view. The political aspects of the chaos in her country Chile' adds to the interest of the book. There is no doubt that Allende is a master writer although there are times when I wish she would use simpler words as to make a dictionary not quite so necessary.

Louise Cabral

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely beautiful!
This book tells a story that is at times both heartbreaking and joyous.It is a memoir of Isabel Allende's life interwoven with a letter to her daughter who is in a coma brought on by a rare illness.It moves back and forth between the past and the present and both stories are fascinating and powerful.She talks about her childhood in Chile, including the political events and their effect on her family.She describes marriage, her work, her children, her travels, all with emotion and artistry that demonstrate without doubt her amazing talent as a writer.Allende writes with such beautiful language it makes her incredible, yet sometimes sad, journey all the more wonderful and enjoyable to read.While The House of the Spirits (one of her many excellent novels) is not to be missed, if you read only one book by Isabel Allende, this is the one I recommend.

5-0 out of 5 stars such a strong genuine writing!
Through her book Paula, I.Allende accomplished to tranform a sad life changing experience of hers, the experience of loosing her only daughter in a hymn for life. Her poetic writing does not leave you stop reading the book. Her passion is succesfully communicated to the readers.
Well done Isabele

4-0 out of 5 stars a wonderful book
Isabel Allende writes about the relationships of women to their men and their children also including womens' related emotions. She wraps this book around how we live and come to accept death. The book is written using a past, present and future construct which tested my memory.It touches the senses and emotions.

cassandra jennings hall ... Read more

6. The Sum of Our Days: A Memoir
by Isabel Allende
Hardcover: 320 Pages (2008-04-01)
list price: US$26.95 -- used & new: US$4.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B001IV5VZE
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

In this heartfelt memoir, Isabel Allende reconstructs the painful reality of her own life in the wake of tragic loss—the death of her daughter, Paula. Recalling the past thirteen years from the daily letters the author and her mother, who lives in Chile, wrote to each other, Allende bares her soul in a book that is as exuberant and full of life as its creator. She recounts the stories of the wildly eccentric, strong-minded, and eclectic tribe she gathers around her that becomes a new kind of family.

Throughout, Allende shares her thoughts on love, marriage, motherhood, spirituality and religion, infidelity, addiction, and memory. Here, too, are the amazing stories behind Allende’s books, the superstitions that guide her writing process, and her adventurous travels. Ultimately, The Sum of Our Days offers a unique tour of this gifted writer’s inner world and of the relationships that have become essential to her life and her work.

Narrated with warmth, humor, exceptional candor, and wisdom, The Sum of Our Days is a portrait of a contemporary family, bound together by the love, fierce loyalty, and stubborn determination of a beloved, indomitable matriarch.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (30)

5-0 out of 5 stars 'eat, pray, love' for those searching for the meaning of 'family'
an incredibly personal perspective about allende's family, and the too-unbelievable-to-be-true events which take place in her family:i dog-eared numerous pages for inspiration and this will be my top christmas gift to my friends and family. allende will pull you in to her storytelling genius immediately, until you finally break free after the last words. however... it will be an enriched and lifted type of 'free'!

5-0 out of 5 stars The View from Within
I found this book compelling, filled with wisdom, grief, and full of life.I've read and loved many of Allende's books and having an insight into her life was rewarding to me as I knew so very little about her personal challenges. Allende bares her soul as she shares thoughts on family, the tragic loss of her daughter, motherhood, spirituality and religion, infidelity, and addiction. What a qintessential matriarch one views as you read this revealing memoir on the intimacy of her family, or "tribe" as the grouping is called. The characters...related by blood, marriage, or absorption...come into vivid view through her splendid writing.

1-0 out of 5 stars Sophomoric
Allende attempts to present life events through a letter to her dead daughter Paula, a premise that doesn't work well with the content.The author resorts to awkwardly inserting occasional references to Paula in order to remind the reader that she is writing a letter, although seemingly without purpose.The result is a rambling of events that fails to touch the reader at an emotional level.

Allende as an author leaves the impression of yet another self-centered baby-boomer over involved in the lives of her adult children.She oscillates between extolling the characteristics of her kids and grandchildren (ad nauseam) and presenting myopic political and religious views with an air of superiority.Ironically, Allende prides herself on being open to alternative lifestyles and beliefs but yet exudes sarcasm with blanket statements that are based upon stereotypes.(Isabel, Americans don't "hate immigrants."They simply want immigrants to come to the U.S. legally.)I've never read any of Allende's other books, and this selection does not compel me to do so.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Sum of Our Days
I like Isabel Allende but this is not one of her strongest works. It is nice and soft and well written but it lacks the viberance I am accustomed to in her work. Of course, the subject is highly personal. She writes to her deceased daughter, Paula, about what is happening in the family. It demonstrates that we all endure difficult times and have relatives that cause us to worry. It also demonstrates that Allende is still grieving and will probably grieve forever. I do not blame her.

4-0 out of 5 stars Weakest of Allende's Memoirs, But Still Very Good
Isabel Allende's latest work, The Sum of Our Days, is another of her fascinating memoirs.With her trademark energetic prose, Allende gives the reader a very vivid image of the people in her life and the chaotically loving lifestyle that she leads.While the writing and the subject make for entertaining reading, one does notice that it lacks the cathartic and nostalgic overtones that made Paula and My Invented Country (respectively) so memorable.Allende herself may have noticed that this memoir doesn't have the emotional heft of her other non-fiction works, as is evidenced by an ending that can best be described as "petering out".Still, there are few writers that can bare their souls as movingly as Allende.Even though The Sum of Our Days isn't her best non-fiction, there are still enough positive aspects to the book to make it a worthwhile addition to Allende's body of work. ... Read more

7. Paula (Spanish Edition)
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 368 Pages (1996-04-24)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$7.81
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060927208
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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es una memoria encarnada que atrapa al lector como una novela de suspenso. Cuando la hija de Isabel Allend, Paula, cayó en coma gravemente enferma, la autora comenzó a escribir la historia de su familia para su hija inconsciente.En el desarrollo de la historia aparecen ante nostros ancestros extraordinarios, oímos recuerdos maravillosos y amargos de la infancia, anécdotas increibles de los años jóvenes, los secretos más íntimos seoyen en murmullos.En Paula, Allende escribe una poderosa autobiografía cuya aceptacíon de los mundos mágico y espiritual recuerdan al lector su primer libro La casa de los espíritus.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars GREAT VALUE!
This book is like new and the price was way below retail. The service was very good too: fast shipment. Very pleased!

5-0 out of 5 stars Historia real
Realmente estaba tras este libro hasta que lo consegui por" Amazon" mi libreria favorita, pues consigo siempre lo que quiero, a tiempo y buen precio.Y en Espanol!!!!! pues vivo en USA.

Me encanto la historia, en momentos hasta la senti parte de mi vida, pues en algunas cosas coincidimos.

Senti que Isabel Allende impregnoeste libro de amor, cuidado y carino.Mismo que sintio por su querida hija "Paula" quien por su descripcion, edad y fotografia, se me asemeja mucho a mi hija Bertita.GD ella sigue con nosotros.

Mi reconocimiento a IA y mi carino a "Paula"

Bertha DeWolf.

2-0 out of 5 stars No es muy bueno... It's not as good as the others.
Compre este libro porque habia escuchado que era bueno. Pero me lleve una gran decepcion. A pesar de que su hija esta muriendo, ella cuenta muchas historias de su familia y hace unas descripciones que realmente no tienen nada que ver con lo que le esta pasando a su hija.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fabulosa!!!
Fabuloso libro de Isabel Allende, escrito con talento unico, sin hacer menos a su generosidad de compartir con nosotros sus lectores su autobiografia, donde nos describe hasta los mas intimos rincones de sus memorias, tales como su experiencia a sus escasos 8 anos, cuando escapo a madrid a reunirse con "el amante" como ella le llama, su honestidad su palpa en cada palabra. Paula fue un gran placer conocerte al igual que a tu mama y a toda su tribu!! Dios las bendice! Gracias!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I would recommend this book to everyone.It is an easy book to read and the story touches your heart.

... Read more

8. Zorro SPA: Una Novela (Spanish Edition)
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 384 Pages (2006-05-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$2.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060779020
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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¿Quién no conoce al Zorro, el astuto y travieso enmascarado? Lo que no sabíamos -- de cómo surgió el héroe -- se resuelve en estas páginas, que nos revelan el misterio de su doble personalidad. Aquí reencontramos a su amigo Bernardo, su corcel, Tornado, su prodigioso látigo, la Z con que firma sus hazañas y mucho más.

Nacido en 1795 en la California hispana, Diego de la Vega está atrapado entre dos mundos. Su padre es un heroico militar convertido en un próspero hacendado, su madre es una valiente guerrera indígena y su abuela materna es la sabia chamán de su tribu. Del primero, Diego aprende las virtudes de un hidalgo, desde esgrima hasta el arte de hacerse obedecer, mientras su madre y su abuela lo inician en las tradiciones indígenas y el conocimiento de la naturaleza y la magia. Junto a su inseparable amigo Bernardo, vive aventuras en la niñez y se da cuenta de las injusticias que soportan los indios a mano de los colonos europeos.

Diego se hace hombre en Barcelona, donde su padre lo manda a estudiar justamente cuando España, ocupada por las tropas de Napoleón, soporta una cruenta guerra. Le toca de todo, desde duelos a muerte hasta enamorarse a primera vista, enrolarse en una sociedad secreta, huir con una tribu de gitanos, ser secuestrado por piratas y, sobre todo, enfrentarse al hombre que habrá de ser su peor enemigo. Por último regresa a California a reclamar la hacienda donde nació e impartir justicia, luchando por los indefensos. Así, entre el Viejo y el Nuevo Mundo se forma el carácter del más legendario y romántico de los héroes.

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Customer Reviews (22)

4-0 out of 5 stars The making of El Zorro
Isabelle Allende has created a believable childhood for Diego, his family, friends, and adventures. The historical context is very interesting as well. I have always been quite a sucker for this romantic hero, going back to the television series as a young girl--so I am probably a fairly easy "sell".I am reading the book in Spanish (with some cheating in the English translation). I find the language elegant and highly readable in either language. This book was a great idea--wished I'd have thought of it!

2-0 out of 5 stars Zorro: a mystical reinvention
Isabel Allende is a very talented writer.However, she appears to have a great interest in mysticism and she has put as much of it as possible in this book.The original Zorro was a Spanish Nobleman and a Christian who fought on behalf of the poor and oppressed.So, it is ironic that Ms. Allende has tried to tie Zorro to practically every kind of mysticism which existed in the 19th century.She gives him an Indian Shaman for a Grandmother.Has him get the idea for Zorro from an Indian initiation right where he gets the fox (Zorro in Spanish) as his totemic symbol.Has him have an affair with a Gypsi who tells fortunes.Gives him a telepathic connection with his friend Bernardo.Has him join a secret society.And last, but not least, has an extended discussion of Voodoo magic.By the end of the book - I was wondering if this story was more about Zorro or Ms. Allende's attempt to normalize pagan spiritualism.

3-0 out of 5 stars Super Reader
Not too bad, although Allende is clearly not that great an action/adventure writer. The first part of the book should be called 'The Unhappy mother of the boy who it looks like will become Zorro'. Included in this are a few Tom Sawyer type adventures for him and his mate.

Points for this though : they get attacked by pirates while ON THEIR RANCH! That is novel. Once they get to Spain, it becomes more interesting, as the boy is old enough for some serious escapades, and the identity of Zorro comes out.

After some Napoleonic induced problems there he and his female entourage return to yankeeland and there you get the full on Zorro feel. I think she was perhaps getting the hang of it a bit more by then.

5-0 out of 5 stars El Zorro, Romantic and Honorable
I confess I have superhero ambitions. I am attracted to anyone having the fashion sense and BMI to pull off wearing tights and a cape in public and I want to be just like them when I grow up. The consummate altruism that comes along with the costume is an ideal I can only hope to achieve. Paragons of this race come along only once in a generation.

When Isabel Allende wrote El Zorro, I knew I had to read it. Zorro may not be the type of superhero that has a bat cave or changes clothes in a phone booth, but he's still a superhero of the most romantic kind.

Impatiently I waited for it to come out in paperback. Seeing it paraded in front of me constantly over the next few months, I broke down and bought it in hardcover, an honor normally reserved for books I plan to read over and over. It turns out that the investment was prudent. I recently reread this wonderful story. It was just as good the second time around.

The author herself is almost as interesting as her characters. Like El Zorro Diego de la Vega, Allende has noble roots. Like Diego de la Vega, she was essentially exiled to Spain as a young adult. Perhaps it was inevitable that she would write the story of the Fox. Even in translation, Allende writes beautifully. Although she lives in California, she writes in her native Spanish.

El Zorro explores the creation of not just a folk hero, but of the boy, Diego de la Vega, who grew up to become el Zorro. Spanning two continents and four decades, there is never a lull in the story. The swordplay is really cool, too.

Zorro's parents meet at a Spanish Mission. His father, Alejandro de la Vega, is the brilliant young officer charged with the mission's defense. His mother, Toypurnia, is the daughter of White Owl, a shaman and healer of the Gabrieleno tribe, and a Spanish sailor who deserted his ship and lived among the Indians.

Toypurnia is injured in an attack she leads on the San Gabriel mission. When the Spaniards discover that she is a woman, she is given medical treatment. Alejandro de la Vega is fascinated by her and often tends to her himself. She and Alejandro fall in love and rather than allow her to be executed as a captured enemy, Alejandro maneuvers Toypurnia into the protection of Doña Eulalia de Callís, the wife of the governor of Alta California, who, as a condition of Toypurnia's pardon, turns her into a "Christian Spanish lady" newly christened "Regina María de la Inmaculada Concepción." Alejandro and Toypurnia are married and inherit a grand estate when Doña Eulalia and her husband, Governor Pedro Fages, decide to return to Spain.

When Toypurnia seems to have failing health during her pregnancy with Diego, an unmarried pregnant Catholic Indian woman is sent from the San Gabriel Mission to be her servant. The two women give birth the same day, but since Toypurnia's health continues to decline the servant nurses both Diego and her own son, Bernardo. Diego and Bernardo come to be more than milk brothers, though. They are the best of friends and when Bernardo's mother is killed during a pirate raid on the family's compound, they are raised as true brothers. Bernardo is so traumatized by seeing his mother murdered by the marauders, though, that he becomes mute.

Bernardo is the perfect foil for Diego's personality. He is smart, strong, silent, sturdy, and unassailably loyal to his brother. Diego, on the other hand, is small, mischievous, brilliant, witty, and the instigator of most of the trouble the boys find.

Diego's Indian grandmother, White Owl, exerts as much influence on the course of the boys' lives as do the Spaniards who raise them. She takes the boys on shamanistic journeys of survival and character development. On a survival vision quest Bernardo finds his spirit animal, the horse Tornado, and Diego finds his totem, the fox. "Like the fox, you will discover what cannot be seen in the dark, you will disguise yourself, and you will hide by day and act by night," his grandmother explains after the vision quest.

Diego is sent to Barcelona, to the home of his father's best friend, to be educated. Naturally Bernardo accompanies him, ostensibly as a servant but in actuality Bernardo is educated the same as Diego. The Spanish household accepts the boys without reservation. He and Bernardo reach their adult growth there. As political intrigues permeate the Barcelona, Diego and Bernardo find themselves getting involved to preserve their own reputations as well as those of their patron. El Zorro, a masked and mustachioed liberator of political captives, is born due to the necessity of acting in secret.

The political climate in Barcelona becomes dire and Diego and Bernardo are entrusted with the safety of his patron's beautiful daughters. They escape back to America, encountering the famous pirates Pierre and Jean Lafitte in the process. Their return to Alta California does not improve their circumstances. The political climate there is at least as bad as it was in Barcelona. El Zorro has a need to continue to act. The Zorro we are all familiar with becomes the legend we love.

Allende's El Zorro embodies the melding of many different aspects of society into one conflicted and heroic personality. El Zorro becomes a legend because he has no choice given his integrity his complex background. Loyalties that should be divided find a simple resolution simply by doing what is right. Diego is of three worlds: Indian, Californio, and Spain. El Zorro cannot fail because of his wit and his friends and family.

The elements that make el Zorro a hero and a legend are the elements that create any true legend: mystery, physical prowess, masterful wit, and above all else, honor.

3-0 out of 5 stars Easy, entertaining read - characters a bit frustrating
Three and a half stars. ***1/2

This was an easy read following the creation of Zorro from Diego de la Vega's childhood up to his first full adventure as Zorro in California. Unlike Allende's other books, it was more for entertainment than serious thought on a certain era of time and it felt like she just had a lot of fun writing it.

Although called "Zorro", the real focus is on the women who helped him become Zorro. Out of the books I've read by her, it was the first time I saw her have a man as her principal character which I think she struggled with a bit. Hence, her using the women's roles (her forte) to save her.

Anyway, I really enjoyed following the characters (although I could have slapped Juliana around a bit -- okay, I could have slapped a lot of them) on their wild ride to Zorro's creation.

I couldn't put the book down as her writing was quite gripping and certainly kept me entertained (beautifully written scenery and swashbuckling adventures!) but it wasn't as intellectually satisfying as her other works. For this, I'd recommend the book to seasoned Allende readers but not first timers. This is not a reflection of her usual work (except in terms of her ease in prose) and so beginners would be best introduced to her earlier works. ... Read more

9. Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 320 Pages (1999-05-01)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$8.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060930179
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Under the aegis of the Goddess of Love, Isabel Allende uses her storytelling skills brilliantly in Aphrodite to evoke the delights of food and sex. After considerable research and study, she has become an authority on aphrodisiacs, which include everything from food and drink to stories and, of course, love. Readers will find here recipes from Allende's mother, poems, stories from ancient and foreign literatures, paintings, personal anecdotes, fascinating tidbits on the sensual art of foodand its effects on amorous performance, tips on how to attract your mate and revive flagging virility, passages on the effect of smell on libido, a history of alcoholic beverages, and much more.

An ode to sensuality that is an irresistible blend of memory, imagination and the senses, Aphrodite is familiar territory for readers who know her fiction.Amazon.com Review
There is something about reading suggestive material thatawakens the senses--too often ignored in the fray of modern life--andfires the imagination. Perhaps it brings us back to those breathless,palpitating moments from childhood when puberty was a rosy smudge onthe horizon and sex was an abstract term. Aphrodite is a long,savory, enthralling ode to sensuality.

In this bawdymemoir-cum-cookbook, Allende has put together an apothecary ofaphrodisiacs, from snake's blood and rhinoceros horn to the morecommonplace and more palatable oysters, "those seductive tears ofthe sea, which lend themselves to slipping from mouth to mouth like aprolonged kiss ... can be purchased in bottles, but there they looklike malignant tumors; in contrast, moist and turgid in their shellsthey suggest delicate vulvae--a prime example of food that appeals tothe eye." Chapters such as "Alligators and Piranhas";"Supreme Stimulus for Lechery"; "Bread, God'sGrace"; "Forbidden Fruits"; and "The Saucy Way toForeplay" offer categorical listings on the aphrodisiac qualitiesof meats, spices, fruits and vegetables, and alcohol. A few chaptersinto the book, one begins to wonder what foods aren'tconsidered erotic: "the shape of the wheat head is consideredphallic, which proves human imagination knows no limits." Wine(no surprise there) is recommended because "it lessensinhibitions, relaxes, and fosters joy, three fundamental requirementsfor good performance, not only in bed but at the piano as well."However, as in many situations, moderation is key: too much and youmay find your guest asleep in the soup.

Allende dismisses nouvellecuisine in favor of earthier foods and more satisfying portions. Morethan 100 recipes are provided, from sauces and soups to horsd'oeuvres, supplemented with her voluptuous commentary. Recipes suchas Mykonos Sauce, with walnuts, pistachios, basil, garlic, and milk;Widower's Figs; Filet Mignon Belle Epoque; and Alicante Cream Soup,with leeks, shrimp, oysters, paprika, and cream will have you in anapron (and perhaps not much else) in no time.

"If cookbooksmake up part of your library," Allende notes, "books oneroticism should, too." And what more delightful combination ofthe two than Aphrodite, which provocatively underscores therelationship between sustenance and sexuality, and the aphrodisiacqualities of watching a man cook: "[Women] suppose that if he canremember how many minutes frog legs can tolerate in the skillet, howmuch greater reason he will have to remember how many tickles our Gspot demands." Spiced with litanies of lust and longing from Anais Nin, W.B. Yeats, Pablo Neruda,and Lady Onogoro, andenriched with Allende's warm humor and lusty joie de vive,Aphrodite will tantalize your senses and engender lasciviousgrins. Recommended in delicious but moderate doses, this book is notfor the faint of ... er, heart. --Jhana Bach ... Read more

Customer Reviews (38)

5-0 out of 5 stars A marvelous, beautiful book...
... that works well on several different levels. Starting with the presentation. I recently reviewed another book on the evolution of the cuisine in France, and the book's "presentation" was truly dreadful, and I docked one star simply for that; there were way too many errors that were easy to correct with just a bit more time. What a startling contrast this book is. There is the quality of the paper, for a book carrying a normal paperback price. The art work, and there are 43 pictures and photographs identified in the appendix, is simply arresting. As is suitable for an author originally from Chile, there is a heavy Latin American influence in the selections. You sense that hours may have been spent on the selection of just one of the paintings. The display technique for the pictures is appealing; with a small portion of the painting on an earlier page foreshadowing what will follow (no doubt there is an obscure Latin phrase for such a technique). Almost half the book is recipes, from "dear mom," Panchita's, and no, we won't complain to her. We are thereby given meaningful instructions so that we can go to the "laboratory" and test the efficacy of various aphrodisiacs.

Like many aphrodisiacs, there is some unique trigger that connected two synapses in my brain, between Isabel Allende, and Andrea Dworkin. Surely a unique coupling. No question Dworkin had a tough life, how much was self-inflicted is beside the point. Dworkin though focused on all the unpleasantness in male and female relationships, was light-years away from any eroticism, and died early. Allende could have focused on the unpleasant aspects of her life--being the niece who the Salvador Allende, who died in the CIA coup against the democratically elected government of Chile in 1973, on September 11th even. She was forced into exile, to Venezuela initially, carrying a small bag of dirt from her garden, her homeland, that she knew she might never see again. Yet she chose to celebrate the aspects that make life worth living, good food, and love.

And it is her writing that is the ultimate strength of this book. She is playful and witty, and certainly suggestive, coquettish even, and you feel confident she would not lead you down a path unrequited. In preparation for the book, she has read broadly from the world's literature, on the nexus between food and eroticism, and has spun some marvelous vignettes. It seems inappropriate to highlight a few, at the expense of the rest, but nonetheless, I particularly liked "A Night in Egypt," "Creatures of the Sea," and "Colomba in Nature."

There are so many numerous "takeaways," as those harried will say, including her quote of Oscar Wilde, that "love is a mutual misunderstanding."And how can one ever eat almonds again without thinking about Cybele?

A rich magnum of kudos to Allende. She wrote this book when she was 50, which she said was the beginning of the reflective age. Now she is 60, or a bit more, an age that the ancient Greeks considered appropriate for putting aside the matters of the flesh, and for concentrating on the philosophical problems of life. I suspect it will be one aspect of Greek wisdom that Allende will not assimilate, and that garlic, asparagus, eggplant, and so much more will continue to pass her lips.

Thanks for a most inspirational book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Luscious, scrumptious and, oh yeah, comforting...
John Updike once said that there are three great mysteries in life: sex, art, and religion. Isabel Allende has added food to that mysterious mix in a delightful way --- food is sexy and erotic and enticing in her book andis explored in a way that reminds one of lacy lingerie, seductive but mysterious at the same time. Allende, over fifty and still recovering from the painful loss of her daughter, writes boldly and bravely of how loss and all its pain is still concurrent with life's joys.

As a writer myself who has written both a cookbook and about the erotic lives of people over fifty, I found Allende's honesty, sensuality, and joy utterly luscious and also comforting in that even as we grow older we have our senses and can celebrate them as long as we allow ourselves to. This is a beautiful book with wonderful illustrations including the sexiest peaches you will ever see. The recipes are intriguing. But more than anything it is an affirmation that our senses have the power to heal us and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

5-0 out of 5 stars Life, Love, and Food
This collection of stories reads like an erotic cookbook of sorts.There's even a recipe section!

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my Absolute Favorite Books
This book weaves a beautiful tapestry of life, love and food. The information on the aphrodisiac ingredients is not very in depth but always accurate. And the prose reads as though it is tumbling straight from Allende's mouth. Although I have not cooked from the book, I love that she added a section of recipes.

5-0 out of 5 stars Food for thought and laugh
I have read "Paula" and there is no doubt that Isabel Allende is a talented writer. Her passionate tone seems to just find a way to your heart.

Aphrodite is acookbook erotic-style... truly inspires fun ideas for both food and foreplay. Great historic facts on spices, a collection of rather comical stories and the recipes are to die for.

If you are a hedonist. Get this! ... Read more

10. Zorro: A Novel (P.S.)
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 416 Pages (2006-05-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$3.54
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060779004
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A child of two worlds -- the son of an aristocratic Spanish military man turned landowner and a Shoshone warrior woman -- young Diego de la Vega cannot silently bear the brutal injustices visited upon the helpless in late-eighteenth-century California. And so a great hero is born -- skilled in athleticism and dazzling swordplay, his persona formed between the Old World and the New -- the legend known as Zorro.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (126)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Feminist's Guide to Zorro
While I've always enjoyed reading Isabel Allende, I especially liked Zorro, which delves into the life of the original caped crusader.

The author entertainingly covers Zorro's parentage and motivation. We see his long training both in the New World and in Spain. Most of the familar scenes we already know from other sources are included.

But this is much more than the embellishing of a particular flashy figure's legend.

It is also a description of the development of the West (Alta California when it belonged to Mexico), and the necessity of putting up strong resistance to those universal greedheads who appear anywhere things are rapidly changing and there is opportunity for great wealth, earned fairly or not.

A heroic tale served up with romance, feminism and social justice.


5-0 out of 5 stars The Fox So Cunning and Free
In this version Don Diego De la Vega is the son of a Spanish don and a Native American warrior woman called Toypurnia, which means Daughter of Wolf. Her mother, Diego's grandmother, is a shaman. And Bernardo is Diego's milk brother.As a child Bernardo saw his mother raped and killed and has been mute ever since.

The boys are sent to Spain when Diego is sixteen to be educated and on the voyage over he learns slight of hand from a crew member and while there he is taught how to use the sword, by Manuel Escalante a member of a secret society that protects the poor and innocent that Diego joins. And because this is the Spain of Joseph Bonaparte, Diego often gets to put his skills to the test.

Back in America he is captured by the Jean Lafitte and Diego learns much from the pirate. When he eventually gets back to California, his Zorro persona has been perfected, mask, cape, cabellero hat and, of course, the sword with which he makes the sign of the Z. He is now ready to fight for the poor and down trodden who suffer at the hands of the Spanish dons.

This story is about the Zorro we don't know, how he came to be, "the fox so cunning and free." Diego is so well drawn that when I finished the book, I felt I knew him, mysticism and all. Everybody knows that Isabel Allende does serious fiction, but this book was so entertaining that I couldn't put it down. Who knew a swashbuckler could be serious fiction.

1-0 out of 5 stars One dull read
Reading Isabel Allende's Zorro, is like taking a trip through Wicapedia. Plenty of interesting detail strung to a frame made of more detail. If you want to know general history about early California, what it was like to cut across Panama in the days before the canal, the Spanish Inquisition, and so on, then it is okay. But it is generally told from such a distant and obtuse point of view that the characters lack anyzest. Thus, the encyclopedia analogy. I say make a wide berth around this one.

1-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
It's taken me months to read the Spanish version of Zorro because I can't get interested in the characters or the plot. Her writing is heavily narrative with little character development. For instance, she'll introduce a scene that describes in great detail the location or activities of her characters while only briefly stating what they are feeling.

I was surprised by the very dry style of Zorro because I'm also reading her novel, "Portrait in Sepia", in Spanish. In "Portrait" she writes very expressively and imaginatively. Perhaps in Zorro she got caught up in trying to produce a historically accurate novel at the expense of the rest?

5-0 out of 5 stars Fun audio!
I have listened to it several times now and it just does not get old. There is everything from swashbuckling to the odd. It is funny in character and brings the people to life. ... Read more

11. De amor y de sombra (Spanish Edition)
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 317 Pages (2004-03-18)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 9707801484
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Esta es la historia de una mujer y de un hombre que se amaron en plenitud, salvandose asi de una existencia vulgar. La he llevado en la memoria cuidandola para que el tiempo no la desgaste, y es solo ahora cuando puedo finalmente contarla. Lo hare por ellos y por otros que me confiaron sus vidas para que no las borre el viento... Estas bellas palabras proporcionan la clave de un libro en el que la imaginacion y realidad discurren al mismo nivel. Segunda novela de Isabel Allende, De amor y de sombra es un agudo testimonio de las dramaticas situaciones que se viven en ciertas regiones de America Latina, al tiempo que un canto de amor y de esperanza. Un conmovedor testimonio en el cual la autora no pretende denunciar lo ya sabido, sino -mediante un exquisito arte de novelista- ahondar en el sentido de todo lo que pasa y hacerlo mas humano. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars Como un documental
Este libro cuenta la historia de amor de dos jovenes durante una dictadura militar y yo creo que es como un documental porque sin duda, a una gran parte de la juventud de esa epoca le toco vivir algo parecido.
Yo vengo de un pais que ha sufrido varios anos de gobiernos de facto y, aunque yo recien nacia en esos tiempos, doy fe de que todo lo que cuenta este libro fue lamentablemente cierto. Hay heridas que nunca cierran...
Me gusto el final, pero me quede esperando algo mas.... creo que Isabel Allende le dejo esa tarea a lector.
Muy buen libro.

3-0 out of 5 stars More Politics than Love
This is really more a political account of the events that happened in Chile during the military government of General Augusto Pinochet, than the love story between Francisco and Irene.
Sometimes there are to many details in the stories of oppresion and aprehended people.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of Allende's Best
This is the story of a reporter and a photographer investigating a terrible crime. Isabel Allende is a wonderful writer and this book proves it. Spellbinding and moving, this book is one of Allende's best. The language she uses is rich and the trama extremely interesting.

4-0 out of 5 stars Dificult for a non native speaker
This is an excellent book that took me a long time to read not being a native speaker of spanish, but I found it to be one of the best books I have read in a foriegn language. Este libro es bueno, pero era muy dificil por alguna persona que no habla español como un nativo.

1-0 out of 5 stars Huh?
I wish someone had told me this book was in Spanish. ... Read more

12. Eva Luna
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 320 Pages (2005-08-30)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$5.81
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553383825
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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An exotic dance that beguiles and entices... The enchanted and enchanting account of a  contemporary Scheherazade, a wide-eyed American  teller-of-tales who triumphs over harsh reality  through the creative power of her own imagination...

From the Paperback edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (41)

5-0 out of 5 stars Eva Luna; Love that book
I've been searching for this book in my neck of the woods for the past five or so years. No modern bookstores, or second hand or exchange ones have been able to provide it. I found it on Amazon, and for the price of the book and air freight it was cheaper that it would have been to buy it in stores. The book arrived in less than three weeks in top condition. I love this heartfelt construct of a young girls' life. The text progresses from before Eva Luna is born until she finds true love. Set mainly in South America after World War Two, the novel leads readers through the stirring and dramatic moments experienced by the protagonist as she struggles with the lack of progress in her world. It's definitely one of my favorites.

Eva Luna

4-0 out of 5 stars MY REVIEW
Allende's use of magical realism in her book,Eva Luna,is highly redolent of the style of other Latin American writers of the same genre e.g Gabriel Garcia Marquez.However, unlike them,she gives her own unique touch to it,thereby creating sometHing fresh and seemingly new.

I enjoyed reading most of the book but felt the end was a bit rushed.That Eva should end up with Rolf Carle was not exactly prefigured.I somehow missed the subtle innuendos and other hidden messages one would expect would lead to both of them coming together.

However, Allende's evocation of imagery is stunning and her characters are fully formed and easily recognisable-Rogelio,the Turk,the Turk's wife who kills herself physically after an emotional demise, when her young lover departs.They are all people we see everyday , interact with and talk to.Infact, they are all of us, in a sense.

5-0 out of 5 stars LOVE THE BOOK! DEFINITE READ!
If you are looking for adventure and wild, crazy and interesting characters, this is the book for you. I originally bought this book for a class in school and ended dropping the class. But I read the book anyways and I could not put the book down. It has suspense and vivid details on each page. The protagonist's life is filled with every day adventure. I love Isabelle Allende, she is a great writer and I definitely recommend this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars In excellent condition and a most interesting book.
I have always had wonderful success with the even used items I buy through Amazon.The book was like new and of course the book itself was very well written, it also gives an insite on another culture.

2-0 out of 5 stars Dissapointed
Eva Luna is found in the jungle by a missionary group. She is sent to the city after age sixteen and has to fend for herself. Along the way she gets into all kinds of adventures including being the mistress of a famous revolutionary. The country in question is never mentioned, but from the description I would say it's Venezuela.

I admire several Isabel Allende books: The House of Spirits, Paula, and Daughter of Fortune.

Eva Luna, like everything else Ms. Allende has recently written--including the children stories--lack her original fire and character development. Perhaps after the House of Spirit, I have become too demanding on her.

Case in point, Eva Luna character's are not believable, the story does not flow well, and its ending makes no sense.

I was disappointed again ... Read more

13. La casa de los espíritus
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 464 Pages (1995-05-02)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$5.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060951303
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Bestseller internacional y muy admirado clásico de la literatura latinoamericana, la trascendental novela de Isabel Allende cuenta la historia épica de la numerosa y turbulenta familia Trueba de Chile, con su patriarca angustiado y sus mujeres clarividentes, trazando sus vidas desde los fines del siglo pasado, hasta los días violentos del golpe que derrocó al gobierno de Salvador Allende en 1973. En La casa de los espíritus, Allende combina lo supernatural con lo real en una versión sumamente personal de realismo mágico.Es raro, el caso, en que una primera novela lanza a su autora tan repentinamente al foro internacionales.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (28)

4-0 out of 5 stars Las novelas más inspiradoras sobre la mujer latinoamericana
Las novelas más inspiradoras sobre la mujer latinoamericana son "La casa de los espíritus" de Isabel Allende, "El amor en los tiempos del cólera" de García Márquez, "Las hermanas Agüero" de Christina García, "La casa en Mango Street" de Sandra Cisneros y la que acaba de aparecer sobre la mujer de la inmigración, "El amor de Carmela me va a matar" de Eduardo González Viaña.

5-0 out of 5 stars Allende - Alma Latina
To read Allende is to connect with the soul of Latin America. Her prose, characters, themes, and settings transport me every time to the land that formed me. And as I share Allende's bibliography with my college-aged daughter, the cultural life-nurturing legacy gets passed on.

5-0 out of 5 stars Love it!
I stopped reading spanish literature for a little while, and I was amazed with the book.It is wonderful!

5-0 out of 5 stars Really good book!!
Me encanto leerlo, no se me fue el interes por el libro ni un solo momento :)

5-0 out of 5 stars Super fast shipping!
Ordered it on Wednesday andreceived it on Friday, super fast shipping, it was in perfect condition, fast and smooth transaction! I glad to do business with them! ... Read more

14. The Infinite Plan: A Novel (P.S.)
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 416 Pages (2010-05-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$8.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061976822
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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In The Infinite Plan, critically acclaimed, bestselling author Isabel Allende weaves a vivid and engrossing tale of one man's search for love and his struggle to come to terms with a childhood of poverty and neglect. It is the story of Gregory Reeves and his hard journey from L.A.'s Hispanic barrio to the killing fields of Vietnam to the frenetic world of a San Francisco lawyer. Along the way, he loses himself in an illusory and wrongheaded quest, and only by circling back to his roots can he find what he is missing and what he wants more than anything in life.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

This is the first novel I have read by Isabel Allende, so perhaps it is not a good example of her best work.But I was not impressed, and I think any comparison to the passionately human and verbally gifted Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a stretch.One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera rival, although also in translation, Shakespeare's lush language and originality of character.Each is the literary equivalent of a Montezuman banquet.

The main point of view, or focus of narration, in this novel is that of the omniscient author, and occasional first-person narration through the voice of the main character.Her style in this work has been described as journalistic, and she does write like a reporter, or biographer, hitting the high spots of a very large story without using functional imagery and dialogue to pull you inexorably into a scene.I did not enter into the kind of imaginative experience that only a really good writer can create.Not that there is necessarily something wrong with the omniscient author point of view --it just takes a talent that is truly "omniscient" in the literary sense.Otherwise you get pasteboard characters and gratuitous events.

Allende has been credited with the use of "magical realism,"a technique of rendering impossible events with such verve and clarity that the reader wants to believe them, and does.Olga, the Russian émigré spiritualist and healer, is portrayed with charming, florid excess, and was for me a truly interesting character; but here again, the `magic" does not compare with that in Marquez, or in Louise Erdrich's The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse.

My last criticism is possibly a criticism of what the American reading public demands in a novel.The main character, his best friend, their colleagues, female acquaintances, and so on seem to want me to believe that today, when a man meets a woman, they do not shake hands and engage in exploratory small talk, but look immediately for the nearest bed, or car seat, or warehouse bench.Sex is a good thing, but love is more, and the real people I know do not emulate (thank God!) the lustful couplings oflions on the Serengeti.

Allende's books are widely read in several languages.I think by now, you the reader should know whether to rush out and buy this novel--or be thankful you haven't.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best
This was the first Isabel Allende novel that I read years ago, and I have been a fan of hers ever since.On a recent episode of CSI; Miami, a jailed man was smuggling something, I can't remember what, in a book and The Infinite Plan was the book.I always thought a few of the characters in this novel were believable, like these people existed somewhere and if you read her latest, the memoir,The Sum of Our Days", you will have a different take on The Infinite Plan.

5-0 out of 5 stars Allende's Brilliant Invitation to Romantic Diversity

Isabel Allende's THE INFINITE PLAN poses a unique question: namely, what happens when a writer born in Chile authors a book about an Australian immigrant's son who grows up in a California Latino barrio? By way of an answer, Allende treats readers to a profoundly American novel of struggle and conquest, anguish and deliverance, and brutal war in the midst of ever-intriguing romance. Through the character of Gregory Reeves, the author maps the migration of one man's soul from childhood trauma and self-betrayal as an adult to eventual hard-won salvation. Through Reeve's lifelong friend, Carmen Morals, she demonstrates the power of the human spirit when determined to experience life and love on its own terms. Reeves grows up in a Latin barrio, where his traveling mystical father, the not-so-divine creator of "The Infinite Plan," is forced to settle and eventually dies. Reeves becomes an exile in both his home and his community. At the age of 50, he battles with the horrors of his life and stakes his claim to an uneasy peace.

The cast of females in THE INFINITE PLAN is exceptional. Carmen is disowned by her family after undergoing an illegal abortion and suffering abandonment by her lover. She subsequently experiences, like her friend Gregory Reeves, a series of failed affairs. In the process, she evolves into a respected artist who becomes a millionaire. Like the celebrated Pulitzer prize-winning author Alice Walker, Allende displays a keen interest in the effects of male culture on feminine sensibility.

Although the bulk of THE INFINITE PLAN revolves around the lives of Gregory and Carmen, it includes an interwoven braid of characters from different cultures and races. Perhaps more than anything else, the mixture of racial and cultural perspectives in THE INFINITE PLAN implies that even when we as individuals believe ourselves abandoned in the world, fate and circumstance often act to connect our lives. To the degree that we carry within ourselves often identical experiences of love or grief or confusion, we are extensions of each other. What we refer to as differences are mostly artificial and not essential to peace or happiness.

by Author-Poet Aberjhani
author of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance (Facts on File Library of American History)
and founder of Creative Thinkers International

5-0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece
An interesting family saga in which the author deals with many social issues - many of which are current today. These include the plight of 'illegal aliens', war, incest, parental skills or lack thereof as well as abandonment.
The characters are extremely well done. Much of Greg's(protagonist's) life revolves around Carmen and Olga, who are the most forceful characters in the story. Even the very minor characters, like the white haired granny peddling her services beneath the table, are unforgettable.
The author is excellent at descriptions and is frequently very humorous.
Much of the book is philosophical. Greg is continually searching for happiness outside of himself. Carmen informs him that "every person is born with a talent and happiness depends on discovering that talent in time." (233). On the subject of children, Greg admits that his own children had grown up like savages, without care and without real love but they never lacked for anything material. He concludes that money is a poor substitute for the affection he didn't know how to give. Heavy! And so true.
An excellent read!

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Find!
I picked this up from the library shelf on a whim, having read and loved "Daughter of Fortune" and other Allende books.What a great find!I really enjoyed this book, and have recommended it to my mom, an avid reader (like me) who's also a book snob (kinda like me).

Give it a shot -- a worthwhile journey. ... Read more

15. Inés del Alma Mía: Novela (Spanish Edition)
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 368 Pages (2007-09-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$4.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 006116156X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Isabel Allende, una de las autoras más respetadas de la lengua española, nos trae una magistral novela que narra la vida de Inés Suárez, una temeraria conquistadora que contribuyó a la fundación de la patria chilena

Nacida en España, y proveniente de una familia pobre, Inés Suárez sobrevive a diario trabajando como costurera. Es el siglo dieciséis, y la conquista de América apenas comienza. Cuando un día el esposo de Inés desaparece rumbo al Nuevo Mundo, ella aprovecha para partir en busca de él y escapar de la vida claustrofóbica que lleva en su tierra natal. Tras el accidentado viaje que la lleva hasta el Perú, Inés se entera de que su esposo ha muerto en una batalla. Sin embargo, muy pronto da inicio a una apasionada relación amorosa con el hombre que cambiará su vida por completo: Pedro de Valdivia, el valiente héroe de guerra y mariscal de Francisco Pizarro.

Valdivia sueña con triunfar donde otros españoles han fracasado, y lleva a cabo la conquista de Chile. Aunque se dice que en aquellas tierras no hay oro, y que los guerreros son feroces, esto inspira a Valdivia aun más ya que lo que busca es el honor y la gloria. Juntos, los amantes fundarán la ciudad de Santiago y liberarán una guerra sangrienta contra los indígenas chilenos en una lucha que cambiará sus vidas para siempre.

Basada en una investigación meticulosa, y contada con la pasión y el talento narrativo de Isabel Allende, Inés del Alma Mía es una obra de impresionante magnitud.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (49)

3-0 out of 5 stars ¡Allendepinta bien la crueldad de los españoles!
Isabél Allendelogrómostrar la crueldad increible de los conquistadores españoles.A cada rato queman vivos a sus prisioneros indios, o les aplican "suplicios" y "tormentas", lo que es lo mismo:tortura sádica perpetrada contra gente indefensa, amarrada.A menudo descuartizan a los indios mapuche y yanaconas.Cuando capturan al "enemigo"vivo, les aplican toda clase de torturas y barbaridades tipo español, los que vienen desde la "santa inquisición".En una batalla en la que Inez nos cuenta que ocurrió un "milagro"y los indios mapuche se retiraron cuando podian haber aniquilado a los gachupines,ocurre una carniceria humana típica de los españoles "católicos" de la época:Tienen casi 300 presos mapuches.A todos les amputan un brazo y les cortan sus narices.Inez no estuvo, pero cuenta que se "cansaban"los que estaban cortando las manos y las narices de los presos.¿A poco debemos de sentir lástima por los carniceros "cansados" de amputar las manos?Semejante crueldades aun peores ocurren seguido en el transcurso la conquista contada por Inez.A veces las indígenas llegan en paz o les ofrecen comida a los españoles.A cambio, los españoles los agarran,los amarran, y los queman vivos.

Aunque Allende describe adecuadamente aquellos horribles abusos, es demasiado amable con los soldados españolesquienes siempre son descritos como "valientes" y hasta "heroicos" y muy católicos, rezando a su "apostol Santiago y a Nuestra Señora..."mientras matan a cientos de mapuches y yanaconas.Allende los pinta como seres sobrehumanos, incansables, cada uno capaz de derrotar a cientos de mapuches, quienes son pintados como carne de cañon, casi como hormigas guerreros quienes se sacrifican con gusto ante las espadas de los gachupines. Todas esas escenas de batallas son demasiado simplistas y así sospechamos que son incompletas,escritas siempre desde la perspectiva de los conquistadores.

De pilón, la esclavitud de las yanaconas es pintada demasiado suave. Inez casualmente dice--"Habian 30,000 yanaconas trabajando en la mina de oro..." No dice que fueron esclavos,continuamente hostigados por los latigos de los capataces.Es como si fuera la cosa más natural y aceptable que los españoles blancos tenian derecho a esclavizarles a otros seres humanos.

Por supuesto, Inez está horrorizada por las crueldades.Sin embargo,nos deja con la justificación inepta y tonta, expresada por su esposo Rodrigo: "es la guerra" lo que a Rodrigo le permite lavarse las manos de cualquier culpabilidad. Claro, Allende debe de haber querido mostrarnos las atrocidadespara que pensemos en lo repugnante y horrorosa que es la "guerra",pero termina creando demasiada simpatia por los españoles.

El mensaje parece ser:Sí, la conquista estuvo muy sangrienta y habian muchas víctimas inocentes, pero valió la pena para imponer la "civilización"a los salvajes que habitaban lo que ahora es Chile. Extrañamente,eso es muy parecida conla justificación que utilizabanGen. Pinochet y sus seguidores que pedian "mano dura" y quienes mataron a Salvador Allende, el tio de Isabel,y mataron y torturaron a miles de chilenos "subversivos"

4-0 out of 5 stars A good book of historical fiction
Very enjoyable story that takes place over several generations, giving the reader a fictional view based on the history of Chile.
Allende tells a great story in this book, as in others she has written that take place in California. Recommended

5-0 out of 5 stars Isabelita
Mi mujer leyo una vez un libro de isabel, no le gustó y ya me quede con es estereotipo: no escribe bien esta Isabelita.
No queria que se terminara el libro!! pero a la vez seguia leyendo y leyendo. Deben adquirirlo, de pasta gruesa para que se vea bonito en la bibioteca.

4-0 out of 5 stars buen libro, pero pérdida de enfoque
Me gustó mucho este libro, pero le quité una estrella porque hacia el final pasa mucho tiempo hablando de Lautauro, cuando se supone que el enfoque debe estar en Inés.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ines del alma mia
Una vez mas Isabel Allende nos deleita con una novela llena de historia,intriga, y passion.
Clara ... Read more

16. My Invented Country: A Memoir
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 224 Pages (2004-04-27)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$3.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060545674
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Isabel Allende evokes the magnificent landscapes of her country; a charming, idiosyncratic Chilean people with a violent history and an indomitable spirit, and the politics, religion, myth, and magic of her homeland that she carries with her even today.

The book circles around two life-changing moments. The assassination of her uncle Salvador Allende Gossens on September 11, 1973, sent her into exile and transformed her into a literary writer. And the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, on her adopted homeland, the United States, brought forth an overdue acknowledgment that Allende had indeed left home. MY INVENTED COUNTRY, mimicking the workings of memory itself, ranges back and forth across that distance between past and present lives. It speaks compellingly to immigrants and to all of us who try to retain a coherent inner life in a world full of contradictions. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (35)

3-0 out of 5 stars Almost
I read the book in the original Spanish because I live in Chile. Readers should be fully aware that much of the Chile that Allende seeks to describe has washed away with time. As with most nostalgia trips, the focus here is on hazy perceptions. Allende has not been chilena for a long time, if ever.She is arguably more californiana than chilena. In fact she was born and lived for much of her life outside Chile.So the title "invented" is correct, and perhaps the book could be almost considered fiction since there is no category called Invention.I suspect that most of the people who make comments on this book have never lived in Chile and have wrongly formed their opinions from a predominantly leftist press that also relies on invention and wishful thinking.The opinions about Chilean political circumstances tend to confirm that idea of inventionStill, I enjoyed the book. Even a cracked mirror can reflect an amusing, if distorted, version of the true original.

4-0 out of 5 stars Review posted on The Literate Man (www.literateman.com) on June 24, 2010
It's about time we at The Literate Man expand our minds and broaden our horizons to include more talented female authors. One of our favorites is Isabel Allende. She has a gift for storytelling and is one of literature's living treasures.

If you've ever read any of her books you'll begin to notice that most of them cover very similar territory, and you might be forgiven for thinking that all of them sort of bleed into a single, larger narrative. My Invented Country (Mi País Inventado, if you're looking for the original) is no different in this regard. If you're looking for fresh ideas from Allende's cannon you won't find them here. But if you're looking for a light read that will put a smile on your face and fill your brain with snippets of knowledge about her birth country of Chile, this book will more than suffice.

Because The Literate Man's global headquarters are located in Miami--the capital of Latin America and fertile ground for Chilean expats (hola muchachos!)--we at The Literate Man have been to known run in certain Chilean circles. So I have to admit that my particular interest in My Invented Country wasn't of a purely literary bent, but rather a bit of personal research to see what makes our Chilean friends tick.

Promising to "evoke the magnificent landscape of her country," and "the enchanting idiosyncrasies of the Chilean people," I was hooked as soon as I read the back cover. Admittedly, my knowledge of this most southern of South American countries is limited to the information I gather from expat friends and a reporter friend in Santiago who writes about professional basketball there. So it was with great interest and great pleasure that I read this book.

Allende, in a way that perhaps only she can, weaves a personal, cultural, political, historical (and any other descriptive modifier ending in `-al' that you can think of), account of a little-known country rich in narrative. And with her gifted and quirky eye for the details that lay just under the surface this is a great Idiots Guide to Chile.

So whether you're looking to learn more about the rich and turbulent history of Chile from the Spanish colonial conquest to post-Pinochet democracy, the mouth watering cuisine of one the world's major fisheries, the craziness of Allende's mythic family, or you if you'd simply like to partake of her talent as a storyteller, you'll find all that and more in My Invented Country.

It's probably as close as you can get to visiting Chile without leaving the comfort of your favorite reading chair.

3-0 out of 5 stars An Average Memoir
I am a fan of memoirs, so I came to this with a lot of expectation. To be sure, Allende is a great storyteller and I look forward to reading her novels. Her stories are often quite serious and paint a picture of her life and the context quite well, which is the purpose of a memoir in the end. She is also quite humorous, often in a backhanded or sarcastic way, which I enjoy.That said, this memoir is quite average. I do like the approach--it's her version, messy, contradictory, true and false--but her historical parts seem minimally researched and descriptions are often overdrawn and end up sounding like a creative writing assignment (every noun is provided an adjective, which is both tiresome and seemingly pointless). I agree with another reader that it seems to be written for her own use, mostly. I was also struck by her sexism, which seemed oddly genuine and out of character for a writer who reportedly--this is my first Allende book--often writes against it (when describing Chile's quite robust paternalism and machismo--particularly in her childhood--she often states that women are inherently better, more organized, harder working and more thoughtful than men, which is exactly the kind of ignorant drivel that perpetuates paternalism, albeit in the inverse). In any case, I would recommend the book as worthwhile "beach reading" or "airplane literature;" an entertaining walk through Allende's life with a dash of history here and there.

4-0 out of 5 stars Walking in Circles to Create a Rich Topical Memoir
"If you live long enough to review the past, it's obvious that all we do is walk in circles." Isabel Allende, MY INVENTED COUNTRY

If you're accustomed to reading memoirs that progress in chronological order, you may at first find MY INVENTED COUNTRY a little difficult to follow. Why? Because author Isabel Allende doesn't write a straight line from one day of her life to the next; instead, she meanders, backtracks, digs holes, climbs trees, jumps puddles, and then meanders more. Why? Because she's written a topical memoir, a sociologically and internationally wandering memoir. This means her transitions from place to place, or idea to idea, are determined by where her thoughts roam, not stepping from point to point on time lines. I like this, but you may not. I urge you to let go and let her writing take you where it will.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
A wonderful portrayal of Chilean life! Allende surely has amazing ability to weave her thoughts into beautiful prose! She takes us back into her homeland, gets nostalgic and leaves readers in utter awe of her impressive narration. As an immigrant in a foreign country, I could not agree more with her as to how we tend to invent our memories as we try so hard to assimilate in a foreign land. I also loved this book for an insight into the political upheavals that resulted from the brutal dictatorship of Gen Pinochet. The unique and distinctive characteristics of Chilean society that distinguish it from the rest of Latin America are also brought to light in this remarkable memoir. ... Read more

17. The Stories of Eva Luna
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 352 Pages (2001-11-13)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$5.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743217187
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Isabel Allende is one of the world's most beloved authors. In 1988, she introduced the world to Eva Luna in a novel of the same name that recounted the adventurous life of a young Latin American woman whose powers as a storyteller bring her friendship and love. Retruning to this tale, Allende presents The Stories of Eva Luna, a treasure trove of brilliantly crafted stories.

Lying in bed with her European lover, refugee and journalist Rolf Carle, Eva answers hes request for a story "you have never told anyone before" with these twenty-three samples of her vibrant artistry. Interweaving the real and the magical, she explores love, vengeance, compassion, and the strenghts of women, creating a world that is at once poingnantly familiar and intriguingly new.

Rendered in the sumptuously imagined, uniquely magical style of one of the world's most stunning writers, The Stories of Eva Luna is the conerstone ofAllende's work. It is not to be missed by anyone -- whether a devotee of Ms. Allende's oeuvre or a new acquaintance to her work. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (23)

5-0 out of 5 stars gift
This was a gift......It is perfect for those who love Isabel Allende and have read all her novels................

5-0 out of 5 stars Stories of Eva Luna
Wonderbooks sent our book out within a couple of days of the order, but the US Postal Service lost it and it never arrived.We were very pleased that WOnderbooks refunded our payment, no questions asked.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read! I enjoyed it immemsley!
You will love Allende's writing prose and descriptive narration. She is truly a literary treasure! She captures your attention like a modern day Scheherazade!

5-0 out of 5 stars Kieslowski...
I regret that it has taken me so long to "discover" Isabel Allende. I was overwhelmed by this marvelous collection of 23 short stores. They are done in a "Scheherazade" format, as Rolf Carle urges in the Prologue: "Tell me a story you have never told anyone before. Make it up for me." Allende foreshadows much of the sensuality of the stories in the Prologue, as the Carle and Luna rest after love making, and in the painting that is their images, "their skin gleams moistly."And they lay "...in intimate complicity."Other reviewers, and I would join them, compare her writing to the "magic realism" in Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and other Latin American authors (what is it about the Latin American experience that lends itself to this motif?). Unquestionably there are the Arabic and Latin influences on her stories, but I'd like to add a third comparison--that of the Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski, and in particular, his one hour long vignettes, 10 in all, that composed his Decalogue. I would be mesmerized by his movies; what aspect of the human condition would he explore in breathtaking and painful accuracy this time?With each story of Allende I felt the same way.

I didn't find a weak story among them.In most there is woven some element of eroticism, or at least plain lust. In several there are acts of revenge achieved. There are the "eternal" themes of Latin America: the Catholic Church, endless civil war, Indians, the rural environment of "Agua Santa," and the colonial experience.And there are the universal themes: greed, the memories of experimental first love suppressed, euthanasia, natural disasters endured, aging and dying. The countries in which the stories take place are never fully identified, sometimes it seems to be Chile, sometimes Peru, others it is in the Caribbean, and then there is the element of "oil" which might mean Venezuela or Ecuador.

Allende's descriptive powers dazzle, whether it be of a person: "She was fleshy, with the milky skin of reddish blondes, the kind of skin that in youth reflects light with opalescent brush stokes, but with age becomes crinkled paper." or of the act of love: "Her mother was transformed into a round, rosy, moaning, opulent siren, an undulating sea anemone, all tentacles and suckers, all mouth and hands and legs and orifices, rolling and turning and cleaving to the large body of Bernal..." or of the evolution of Latin American social structures: "The era of undisguised plunder had been replace by one of corruption and bribery..." or as Indians saw in the coming of the white man, in Walimai: "We explained that the jungle is not something to be tossed over your shoulder and transported like a dead bird..." and, gulp, "...even out of his mind would he ascend the matrimonial gallows."

Ms. Allende is the niece of Salvador, whom she says she did not know well, and is the one who, as democratically elected President of Chile, died during the CIA sponsored coup, on a Sept. 11th famous to others, but not most North Americans, in 1973.

The Stories of Eva Luna are a wonderful introduction to her work, more of which I will certainly be reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Modern Day Scheherazade
This book is a Latin American, modern-day Scheherazade.

Some stories are soft and subtle in their ability to evoke the power and strength of love.Others are a bit shaggy and beside the point.

Allende has a poet's way with words and utilizes mystical realism throughout this book.

I learned a lot about Latin American culture while enjoying a very good book that I highly recommend. ... Read more

18. Eva Luna (Spanish Language Edition)
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 288 Pages (1995-05-02)
list price: US$12.99 -- used & new: US$7.31
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060951281
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Las aventuras picarescas de una Sherezade latinoamericana, relatando su nacimiento ilegítimo, su orfandad, su adolescencia sin rumbo, sus actividades contra el gobierno, y su romance con un problemático director de películas documentales. Por medio de su don narrativo, Eva Luna inventa una realidad personal determinada por la magia y el destino.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars GREAT VALUE!
This book is like new and the price was way below retail. The service was very good too: fast shipment. Very pleased!

5-0 out of 5 stars her best novel and of the best books in spanish!
El mejor libro de Isabel Allende, y uno de los mejores libros en espanol.Cuenta la historia de Eva Luna y Rolf Carle, en una manera bien inusual. La vas a disfrutar te lo aseguro.

4-0 out of 5 stars You Can't Make an Omelet without Breaking Eggs
This review is for the English language Bantam Book paperback edition published in September 1989, 307 pages.EVA LUNA did not appear on the USA Today top 150 best sellers list, which was started four years after this book was published.However, four of the author's other novels have appeared on the list.

EVA LUNA is the story of an impoverished, illegitimate servant girl, orphaned at age six, illiterate in her formative years for lack of formal education, who simply loves to tell stories and becomes a TV scriptwriter.She is mentored by the evasive ghost of her mother, an opportunistic godmother, a quirky woman who sleeps in a coffin and a confused female transvestite dressed as a woman.The time span is roughly three decades that include the Vietnam War, jet planes, soap operas and the United States meddling in Latin American affairs, which is perhaps not terribly definitive.The setting is supposedly the Caribbean, but the topography is reminiscent of tropical Peru with the politics of Colombia and the economy of Venezuela.The writing style is magical realism and the theme is melancholy.

EVA LUNA is scrambled eggs with a dash of Tabasco, tropical fruit and an aphrodisiac, which turns out tasty and delectable.It reminds me of a quote attributed to Napoleon: You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not that good!
I love some of Isabel Allende's books, like "Paula", others were really bad like the ones she wrote for kids.
This book is not that good, I was about to drop it. The political part was to long and the story of Eva not very interesting.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very imaginitive!!
This book is a very different approach to writing... ... Read more

19. Daughter of Fortune: A Novel (P.S.)
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 432 Pages (2008-06-01)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$8.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061565334
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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An orphan raised in Valparaiso, Chile, by a Victorian spinster and her rigid brother, vivacious young Eliza Sommers follows her lover to California during the Gold Rush of 1849. Entering a rough-and-tumble world of new arrivals driven mad by gold fever, Eliza moves in a society of single men and prostitutes with the help of her good friend and savior, the Chinese doctor Tao Chi'en. California opens the door to a new life of freedom and independence to the young Chilean, and her search for her elusive lover gradually turns into another kind of journey. By the time she finally hears news of him, Eliza must decide who her true love really is.

Amazon.com Review
Oprah Book Club® Selection, February 2000: UntilIsabel Allende burst onto the scene with her 1985 debut, The Houseof the Spirits, Latin American fiction was, for the most part, aboys' club comprising such heavy hitters as Gabriel GarcíaMárquez, Jorge Luis Borges, and Mario Vargas Llosa.But theChilean Allende shouldered her way in with her magical realistmulti-generational tale of the Trueba family, followed it up with fourmore novels and a spate of nonfiction, and has remained in a place ofhonor ever since. Her sixth work of fiction, Daughter ofFortune, shares some characteristics with her earlier works: thecanvas is wide, the characters are multi-generational andmulti-ethnic, and the protagonist is an unconventional woman whoovercomes enormous obstacles to make her way in the world. Yet onecannot accuse Allende of telling the same story twice; set in themid-1800s, this novel follows the fortunes of Eliza Sommers, Chileanby birth but adopted by a British spinster, Rose Sommers, and herbachelor brother, Jeremy, after she is abandoned on their doorstep.
"You have English blood, like us," Miss Rose assuredEliza when she was old enough to understand. "Only someone from theBritish colony would have thought to leave you in a basket on thedoorstep of the British Import and Export Company, Limited. I am surethey knew how good-hearted my brother Jeremy is, and felt sure hewould take you in. In those days I was longing to have a child, andyou fell into my arms, sent by God to be brought up in the solidprinciples of the Protestant faith and the English language."
The family servant, Mama Fresia, has a different pointof view, however: "You, English? Don't get any ideas, child. You haveIndian hair, like mine." And certainly Eliza's almost mystical abilityto recall all the events of her life would seem to stem more from theIndian than the Protestant side.

As Eliza grows up, she becomesless tractable, and when she falls in love with Joachin Andieta, aclerk in Jeremy's firm, her adoptive family is horrified. They areeven more so when a now-pregnant Eliza follows her lover to Californiawhere he has gone to make his fortune in the 1849 gold rush. Along theway Eliza meets Tao Chi'en, a Chinese doctor who saves her life andbecomes her closest friend. What starts out as a search for a lostlove becomes, over time, the discovery of self; and by the time Elizafinally catches up with the elusive Joachin, she is no longer sure shestill wants what she once wished for.Allende peoples her novel witha host of colorful secondary characters. She even takes the narrativeas far afield as China, providing an intimate portrait of Tao Chi'en'spast before returning to 19th-century San Francisco, where he andEliza eventually fetch up. Readers with a taste for the epic, thepicaresque, and romance that is satisfyingly complex will find themall in Daughter of Fortune. --Margaret Prior ... Read more

Customer Reviews (403)

5-0 out of 5 stars Adventurous and appealing heroine
The heroine of this book, Eliza Sommers, is orphaned at birth and raised by Victorian spinster and her brother, Rose and Jeremy Sommers in the English section of Valparaíso, Chile.She is helped raised by the Sommers's housekeeper, Mama Fresia, who teaches her to cook and dabble in some superstition and magic.When Eliza is a teenager she falls in love a clerk who works at her uncle's company, Joaquín Andieta.About this time the gold craze is going on in California and Joaquin takes off to make his fortune and Eliza finds out she is pregnant.Eliza manages to convince a Chinese cook on one of the sailing ships to help her stow-away and help her get to California to find Joaquin.Eliza nearly dies on the voyage from Chile to California but with the help of the Chinese cook Tao Chi'en who happened to be a physician in China she is saved.

Once they reach California Tao intends to split ways with Eliza but she begs him for his help and he relinquishes.He dresses her as a young Chinese male and passes her off as his deaf-mute brother.They have many adventures along the way until she finally leaves Tao to go on her search for Joaquin.However, they keep in touch via the mail and remain close.Even though Eliza is on a physical journey to find Joaquin she finds herself on a spiritual journey as well.

This is a great adventure book with never a dull moment.I couldn't wait to get back to the novel and find out what was going to happen next.This is a story full of history, longing, and redemption.I promise you will love it.

4-0 out of 5 stars beautiful literary piece on love and learning
i read this for The Olive Reader English 101 April monthly selection and i am so glad i did.it is not a book that was even on my radar, but it turned out to be one of my favorite reads of last month.

this story is a sweeping saga that centers around Eliza Sommers, a Chilean girl, orphaned and raised by the English Sommers family, Rose and Jeremy, a stiff Victorian-esque brother and sister pair in Valparaiso, Chile.the family expectations of their perfect `daughter' are disrupted when Eliza falls in love with and chases after a peasant boy who runs off to the gold rush crazed California.when Eliza befriends Tao Chi'en, a Chinese doctor, and finds herself in the California landscape, the journey becomes something altogether different, a quest to find and know herself amidst the obsession to find her lost lover.

"She had grown up clad in the impenetrable armor of good manners and conventions, trained from girlhood to please and serve, bound by corset, routines, social norms, and fear."
despite the loaded cast of characters and long and irregular timeline, i found Daughter of Fortune to be vivid and engaging throughout.it is, at the core, a story of first love.Eliza's character is stubborn and at times, immature in her obsession with her lover, but this gives her plenty of room to develop and grow, which she indeed does.on a more holistic level, this is a book about being out of ones element, facing fears and desires and chasing dreams.each of the characters is in some way affected by this and Allende approaches this without distracting from the flow of the novel at all, which was very impressive. through the various characters, we see every imaginable clash of cultures - from the English in Chile to the Chinese in America and more, crafting a tale of cultural appreciation and tolerance and ultimately, love and forgiveness.

my favorite thing about this book was the writing style - absolutely stunning, with heavy descriptive passages and emotional depth, though it may be a little too literary for some readers.Allende's characters are well developed and they effortlessly breathe life into the story, winding and weaving their histories into a collective story that is un-put-downable. spanning several decades and multiple continents, this is a book that is far from formulaic and definitely delivers a punch.if you enjoy language that you can chew on, you will probably enjoy this, but if heavy handed writing is not your thing, you may not enjoy this so much.

i found it interesting that the book was wrought with heavy foreshadowing, which served to pull the story along.because of this, much of what happened was expected, but the ending came as a complete surprise to me.it was not a nice, tidy ending, but i don't think a book always needs that to be considered great, and i was satisfied.it definitely left room for interpretation and speculation and it had me pondering on it long after i'd put the book down, which for me, wasn't a bad thing.

though this was my first Allende book, it will definitely not be my last!

1-0 out of 5 stars Historical Revisionism
What a waste of time.

You certainly can't accuse this novel of following slavishly to the rules of unity of time place and action. It is ripped in half, two stories, one a little fuller in Chile, a second more scattered and heavy handed in Gold Rush California.

And what a heavy hand.I am SO tired of revisionist historical novels.I am tired of prior century feminists, feminist men, and general fighters against oppression who always sound much more like they come out of the end of the 20th century than from the time that they are being placed in.This is one more novel of the ilk.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Work of Genius
Daughter of Fortune, like all of Isabel Allende's books, is outstanding in its portrayal of its unconventional characters, and full of a subtle humour that is uniquely her own.

In addition, it portrays life on the western coast of North and South America at the time of the gold rush in California, in meticulous detail, bringing this important bit of history to vivid life.

Allende has outdone herself with this novel and especially with the strong and compelling characters in it.

2-0 out of 5 stars Merely a pleasant story...
This book tells a story, but had no particularly interesting insights, no real content.Was kind of like a gothic romance...Reading it was like doing too-simple crossword puzzle - just something to pass the time.This was my first Isabel Allende book.I think I'll move on... ... Read more

20. La suma de los dias (Spanish Edition)
by Isabel Allende
Paperback: 368 Pages (2009-03-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$7.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061551880
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

En las páginas de este libro, Isabel Allende narra con franqueza la historia reciente de su vida y la de su peculiar familia en California, en una casa abierta, llena de gente y de personajes literarios, y protegida por un espíritu: hijas perdidas, nietos y libros que nacen, éxitos y dolores, un viaje al mundo de las adicciones y otros a lugares remotos del mundo en busca de inspiración, de la mano de divorcios, encuentros, amores, separaciones, crisis de pareja y reconciliaciones.

Es también una historia de amor entre un hombre y una mujer maduros, que han salvado juntos muchos escollos sin perder ni la pasión ni el humor, y de una familia moderna, desgarrada por conflictos y unida, a pesar de todo, por el cariño y la decisión de salir adelante. Esta es la familia que descubrimos en Paula y que desciende de los personajes de La casa de los espíritus.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars La Suma de los Dias
Brilliant.Isabel Allende is, without a doubt, an exceptional writer. I enjoyed every page of this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars En su simpleza está su grandeza
¿Quién dijo que para que un libro sea excelente por fuerza tiene que ser complejo?

En definitiva este ha sido uno de los libros cuya lectura me ha resultado tan interesante como grata.No es una ficción, pero llamarlo simples memorias no le haría justicia a la obra, que por la forma en como está narrada, se asemeja más a cuentos muy digeribles.Para el óptimo aprovechamiento de este libro, sugiero no leerlo sino hasta primero haber leído "Paula", cuyo matiz de duelo contrasta con el matiz de catarsis y ligereza de "La suma de los días" al ser el complemento ideal que cierra el círculo.

5-0 out of 5 stars La Suma de los Dias
Before purchasing this book I wanted to know: price, condition of the book, how long it will take to send it,and cost of shipping

5-0 out of 5 stars As wonderful as always.
I loved it, she is funny and pasionate and as a latinamerican living in the United States and married to an American, I can relate to some of her experiences.

5-0 out of 5 stars Que Mujer!Que Vida!
I like this book so much that I'm going to facilitate a 3-session seminar at Newburyport (MA) Adult Ed on it!I've read it in English and am now reading it in Spanish to make sure I don't miss any nuances - although her translator is EXCELLENT.It is intensely personal and poignant and Mrs. Allende's style is unique.Life keeps showing up - for all of us! ... Read more

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