Wednesday, August 12, 2015

La Casa de los Espíritus (The House of the Spirits) by Isabel Allende

La casa de los espíritus [The House of the Spirits] | [Isabel Allende]Format: Audiobook

Length: 17hrs and 1 min

Source: Audible

Genres: Fiction, Magical Realism

Publisher: Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial

Publication date: October 30th, 2014 (First Published in 1982)

Thoughts: After I read Isabel del Alma Mía, I was left with a yearning to read more by Isabel Allende. Being one of the big names of Latin-American literature, it always surprises me when I thikn how long it took me to read anything of hers. I was a bit afraid of doing this one in audio, but the fact that the narrators (Javiera Gazitua and Senén Arancibia) where so good, definitely it was nice to hear this story in my mother tongue.

The story goes through several generations in the Truebas family. Starting with the Patriarch, Esteban, a very proud, set in his ways and strong man, that starts determined to rise up from poverty and who marries Clara, the sister of his first love. Clara a complicated and amazing woman, is in contact with everything supernatural in this world, kind and magical she is the counterbalance to Esteban's character, while having strength of her own. Blanca, their first daughter and who believes in love will give Esteban headaches but also one of his greatest joys: the grand-daughter Alba. Alba, has the strength of all her ancestors and the rebellious heart of the young. While set politically against her grand-father, she loves him and will show him, in time, that a full revolution is in order.

Set in the years prior to the socialist years of Chile, the first part of the story presents all of the reasons each character has become itself. The descriptions of the fields, of the workers, are magnificent and set a beautiful backdrop to the love and hate that grows in the Truebas land. Adding this family's ups and downs to the country's changes in a masterful way, Allende gives us a good look to what the political changes meant to landowners before president Salvador Allende was elected and socialism arrived to Chile, and then the 180 turn that took after the coup d'état by Augusto Pinochet.

Just as it's common in Magical Realism, the supernatural takes the form of it's own character, but Allende makes it so that everything seems 100% plausible, including the sprits that talk to Clara. It is amazing that this was her first novel when you see how strong her voice already is. Even her secondary characters (my favorite is Tránsito Soto) leave a mark in you.

I loved this book, and once again I think part of my full enjoyment was the great work of the two narrators. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for more examples of what Magical Realism is or interested in Chile and would like to be introduced to its political story through fiction. 

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