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The House Of The Spirits (Everyman's Library Contemporary Classics) Hardcover – 10 Mar 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 520 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman; New Ed edition (10 Mar. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857152816
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857152814
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 13.5 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 74,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel Allende is the author of nine novels, including Inès of My Soul, Daughter of Fortune, and Portrait in Sepia. She has also written a collection of stories, four memoirs, and a trilogy of children's novels. Her books have been translated into more than twenty-seven languages and have become bestsellers across four continents. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Isabel Allende lives in California.

Product Description


"The amazing Isabel Allende, the niece of Chile's ousted President Salvador Allende, is creating the kind of literary sensation most writers only dream of. And "The House of the Spirits" is no ordinary first novel. It is an exotic vision - a brilliant, impassioned epic - and a personal coup for the young journalist who "had to write it."

The book seemed to come from nowhere: a first novel by a forty two-year-old Chilean journalist that has dazzled readers throughout Europe and Latin America, making its author the most unexpected sensation since the emergence of Gabriel Garcia Márquez." (Cathleen Medwick Vogue)

"An extraordinary debut, The House of the Spirits marks the appearance of a major international writer.
Rarely has a first novel catapulted a writer so suddenly to international attention and acclaim as The House of the Spirits. The author, Isabel Allende, is niece of former Chilean president, Salvador Allende Gossens; yet she was totally unknown to the world at large until the events of last year." (Alfred A Knopf)

"With this spectacular first novel, Isabel Allende becomes the first woman to join what has heretofore been an exclusive male club of Latin American novelists.
"The House of the Spirits" draws on this experience, though always in veiled terms. A meticulously detailed family saga spanning four generations, the novel is set in a mythified land of volcanoes, earthquakes and hurricanes, peopled by characters who seem to derive their extravagance from their natural surroundings." (Alexander Coleman New York Times)

Book Description

A best seller and critical success in Europe and Latin America, The House of the Spirits is the magnificent epic of the Trueba family - their loves, their ambitions, their spiritual quests, their relations with one another, and their participation in the history of their times, a history that becomes destiny and overtakes them all.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Pete on 2 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback
A massive book bursting at the seams with magic and fantasy and also encompassing over half a century of Chilean history veiled under the disguise of metaphor. The story may run for 500 pages but they disappear so quickly that when you read the words 'The end', you flick back to page one and begin Allende's mystically real realm of spirits all over again.
The haunting truth of this book is its realism. One feels a part of the landscapes such as the cordillera or the vineyards, even though you are never told you are in Chile. However Allende, born in Lima and now US citizen yet Chilean through her parents (indeed a niece of ex-President Salvador Allende, who crops up as the candidate in the story), is attempting to reclaim the history of her country as well as suggesting hope for the future in the female lineage of her family.
One must remember the context in which this book was written. Allende had fled her country following the 1973 coup d'etat, and was living in Venezuela. The book despite its metaphorical disguise breaks the silence of dictatorship, and demonstrates how the barbarities of the despotic Pinochet have plunged her beautiful country into turmoil. Her haunting real descriptions broadcast her experiences and those of her countrymen to the outside world, and this seemingly magical yet sadly realistic literary world aligns this novel with that masterpiece of magical realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude, by the Nobel Prize winning Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Despite the easily readable accounts of her eccentric family and her marvellously painted 'country of catastrophes', Allende blends her lyrical magic with figures of historical importance, such as her Uncle, Pablo Neruda (the Poet) and Victor Jara (the guitarist, Pedro Tercero Garcia).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L.Lais on 5 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
I started this book and was unable to put it down. First & foremost, the syntax of the writing style Allende imposes upon the reader is astounding. There is never a dull moment, only gripping words. The truly magnificent moments are the heart felt times regarding death and the way it is dealt with. Granted characters are killed off in a unique, almost comical manner, E.G nana frightened herself to death from an earthquake - found dead in her bed with her eyes bulging out! The characters all have a different life/different story to tell and yet all of it is combined and interlinked with the general story of the book. As ever, there is an undertone of Social critique, which is expected given Allendes upbringing and the time which the novel was written, her influences are there, the thought provoking moments are there. When you meet Trueba, you feel nothing but hatred towards him for the things he puts everyone through, however, in old age, everyone weakens, Allende has this unique ability to switch from one characters mindset to see the point of view from another. Trueba is detested by pretty much everyone who he comes into contact with, but in his own point of view, he can't seem to understand what or rather where he is going wrong!!! Democracy is a NO GO with him, the social/political critique is filled with moments of genius contained in little nutshells of magical realism. There is a constant subtext story going on regarding the social/liberal/conservative power struggle between the rich and the poor. The included define what free education & good upbringing can bring forth for a society plagued by ideology & poverty.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rosalind Minett on 18 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback
I am not sure why this book hasn't received more acclaim. The passion and grief of the author for the fate of her beloved country are so evident. These drive the book and form a basis for the magic that emerges. I love the change of tone and meaning when Allende swaps first person for third. The family are so lovingly and clearly drawn and the generations are shown in the significance if each to the other. There is a tremendous and tragic momentum to the plot with an ending that is emotionally difficult to read. As far as I am concerned, this author is a giant of her craft.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. S. Lewison on 1 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
I can still remember reading Allende's opening lines in Liverpool's Bold Street Waterstones. 'Barrabas came to us by sea, the child Clara wrote in her delicate calligraphy.' I tingled all over, bought the book and barely managed to get off the train at Bolton Station. Literary purists always gesture knowingly towards their copies of Marquez's One Hundred years of Solitude. Leave them to it. Allende was born to write this book. She centres her story on a family's experience of Pinochet's savage regime in Chile. The House of the Spirits is as the title suggests, a family saga but a saga marvellously suffused by 'other' ways of knowing about events and futures. Part of the magic of the novel is that the 'spirit' co-exists powerfully with the 'material' in an unapologetic and finally redemptive way. The epigraph by the poet Pablo Neruda says it all for me:

How much does a man live, after all?

Does he live a thousand days, or one only?

...What does it mean to say 'for ever'?
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