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on 14 August 2004
The past is a fascinating land in which we all dwell at one time or another, and in My Invented Country, Isabel Allende discusses her relationship with the country of her birth, Chile. She crafts a wandering, wondering work of mystical proportions; discussing the influence of her colourful family (in particular, her grandfather) and the times in which she lived as a child. There is no narrative imperative in this work but this discussion of the spirit of the Chilean people and how they've come through a veritable patchwork of governments in the last few centuries is utterly enthralling.
What falls into place around you as you read, is a rich and vibrant land which the author admits may never have even existed and may simply exist in her mind, due to her lengthy exile from Chile during the Pinochet years. But in bringing her vision of Chile to the reader, she also brings something of herself. Her writing, her imagination, her influences, her spirit. Undoubtedly an intriguing woman and an intriguing land. Read it today.
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on 5 January 2004
I've just finished reading this book, I've read almost all of Allende's novels including Paula which is very personal and also autobiographical in nature. This book, though, is short and funny in places and takes you through Mrs Allende's life as well as gives you some insight into her character. I think to get a wider picture one has to read Paula in conjunction to this novel.
But this is not to say I didn't enjoy it, its filled with her signature descriptive narrative, in the first few pages of this book she writes such a line: "I am as old as aspirin". She takes you through the tumultuous polical history of her native country of Chilie to her present life in the United States. She also gives some insight into what it really feels like to be an immigrant, never being able to set your roots anywhere for too long, and how difficult and often isolated one can feel when trying to integrate into a new place or culture.
What makes this book so straight forward and approachable in nature is it reads almost like a travel piece. Allende takes you on a journey through Chilie from what they eat, how they dress and how they behave. She gets into the mindset of the people of the Chilie and gives you their streotypes and tries to explain why they tend to behave as they do sometimes. Its not at all offensive, on the contrary I think you'll find you will recognise many of these characteristics in alot of people. I love her for doing that. Not many writers in the West are so honest when they speak about the mannerisms or behaviour of other cultures in case they might offend some readers. Allende's however treats her readers as adults and tells it like it is. Speaking of which, she explores the whole 'political correctness' of the West and how really in some places in the world they just don't sugar coat things, which is truely refreshing.
I would highly recommend to this book as an intro to her works as its nice and short and a very easy smooth read. But my favourite is Paula as well as her fictional novel House of The Spirits. But if you're a fan of her work as I am, you'll be grateful to plunge into any of her works! Enjoy it.
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on 7 February 2015
I wasn't sure what to expect from My Invented Country as I'm pretty sure I've not yet read any of Isabel Allende's novels. What I got was gently nostalgic reminiscences of her childhood and adolescence, sprinkled with witty and sharp observations of not only Chile, but also Allende's adopted countries since the 1970s, primarily Venezuela and the USA, and the contrasts between them. I knew little, also, of Chile other than the name of Pinochet so was fascinated to learn insignificant details of daily life and the national culture, pre-Pinochet. Allende's love for the natural landscape comes across continually thoughout her memoir and she makes it sound like a fabulous country to tour. Could we get our caravan across the Atacama Desert do you think?

Allende's starting points for many of her reminiscences are members of her eccentric extended family, all of whom she admits are perfect fodder for a writer! I was irritated by abrupt stops where she would indicate that a tale had already been included in a novel so she 'wouldn't repeat it here'. Now I have to go and buy some of the novels too! I am very tempted by her first, The House Of The Spirits, now though, especially as I learned how it came about.

Allende's criticisms of present-day Chile, its rampant commercialism and ostentatious shows of personal wealth were disappointing to read as perhaps now it is just becoming like everywhere else. This sentence:
'Freedom consists of having many brand names to choose from when you go out to buy on credit' was striking and made me wonder if I have missed Chile as an individual country, perhaps it is more prevalent in Santiago. The divisions post-dictatorship are also saddening to read and I was interested by Allende's reasons for now living in the USA, a country which did so much to damage her beloved Chile.

Overall, My Invented Country is a diverting memoir, quite light overall and with a such meandering pace that sometimes I wondered where we were going to end up. However it has sparked an interest for me to discover both more of Allende's writing and more about Chile itself.
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on 11 May 2015
This is my first experience of reading Allende and I came away with mixed feelings. I bought this thinking it would give some meaty and in depth exposure of the Pinochet era, but alas she had fled before it got too bad, which was a wise move. There is some beautiful descriptions in here, I especially enjoyed the way she described Santiago along the lines of a city covered by a sombrero of pollution. But I also found that she rambled on and at times just bored me with her whimsical descent into family folklore and I was frankly terrified when she mentioned those two words that always strike the fear of god into me..."Magical realism". I was confused by much of her wooly thoughts and vague conclusions on many areas. So I'd say in summary that it is probably worth a read (it is less than 200 pages long) but I was far from convinced and will not be rushing out to read any of her other books any time soon.
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on 16 October 2013
Having read almost all of Isabel Allende's books, the last being Maya's Notebook, My Invented Country, a witty and amusing book, builds a bigger picture of the Chilean psyche. One thing about Isabel Allende is that she is never boring, you can feel her passionate love of live in every sentence she writes. Her references to the now historical events of the last 40-50 years and her part in the events of those times are given in a fair and balanced way. Get a copy now!
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on 3 May 2014
I found this book warm and funny and loved her style. it was a " Couldn't put down one". Found her take on politics very interesting and informative. Life in States brushed over a bit....would have liked more but maybe another book on same.
Have read a few of her novels and like them also.
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on 8 July 2013
Probably my fault for not having read the abstract better, but this book is not a novel. It is a memoir, a recollection of Allende's life and experiences. Her beautiful, sincere writing is there, but basically it read like a huge interview that got me tired at times...
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on 5 June 2013
Isabel Allende writes from a personal perspective-if you are a fan you'll love this book. You can see how moments in her life has been reflected in her books. Interesting facts about the Military Coup of the eightees.
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on 12 March 2012
I am an Isabell Allende addicted and I have read all her books (including the children ones). This book is as I expected - you can not stop read it until you finish it. Highly recommended.
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on 17 March 2013
A real insight into how life was in Chile many years ago before the various political changes and take-overs.......
really enjoy this writer - she really conveys how this were.
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