The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende’s works were recommended to me by a follower after I read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez and was pretty lost. This book, The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, is of a similar genre but a bit easier to read. Although I definitely enjoyed this book more than One Hundred Years of Solitude, overall I still didn’t love this book but wish I had.
I loved the magical realism in this book especially as it is juxtaposed by the post-colonial political struggles of Chile. Allende wrote with a perfect balance between family, love, politics and magic. And by adding only slightly altered true historical events, she made it all the more realistic.
My only problem, as I’ve discussed before in my reviews of Commonwealth or Homegoing, is that I don’t really enjoy family sagas. But this book is a very rich family saga filled with drama, love, violence and many characters with interweaving stories. So, my only problem becomes a kind of large problem in the grand scheme of things. After reading other family sagas, I have to say Allende definitely did a better job of keeping everything flowing well. It was never disjointed and even as she switched back and forth between different characters, it wasn’t abrupt and you could easily follow each character’s storyline even with interruptions. Each family member was also very different even if they took certain personality traits from the previous generations. It is difficult to create distinct characters especially when there are so many and Allende definitely succeeded.
I think it’s just a personal preference of mine regarding multi-generational family sagas. I may have enjoyed it more had it focused mostly on one generation, but I can’t be sure. For those who enjoy family sagas or don’t have a preference, I’d definitely recommend this book as it is beautifully written and very interesting. As for me, I’ll definitely be giving Allende’s other works a try as they don’t all deal with family sagas and I’m sure they’ll also be beautifully written, so more up my alley.
Synopsis: The House of the Spirits, the unforgettable first novel that established Isabel Allende as one of the world’s most gifted storytellers, brings to life the triumphs and tragedies of three generations of the Trueba family. The patriarch Esteban is a volatile, proud man whose voracious pursuit of political power is tempered only by his love for his delicate wife Clara, a woman with a mystical connection to the spirit world. When their daughter Blanca embarks on a forbidden love affair in defiance of her implacable father, the result is an unexpected gift to Esteban: his adored granddaughter Alba, a beautiful and strong-willed child who will lead her family and her country into a revolutionary future.