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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Allende on top form - but a harrowing central theme
I read this book for two reasons. Firstly, because I love Allende's writing. I have all her books and I have even bought three of her novels in Spanish, as an incentive to make progress with the language. The second reason is that my secretary's daughter died in '02, after many years of slow decline, at the same age as Paula.

I hoped I might find something in...
Published on 2 Dec 2004 by C. Nation

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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars very touching but a bit pretentious
I've read a number of Isabel Allende books and found them all a very good read. Paula was the last one I read and felt really touched by the tragedy of Allende's daughter. The first part was written during Paula's stay in a hospital in Madrid and makes you feel as if you were there Allende and listened to her stories from the past. However the second part was written some...
Published on 21 Oct 2004 by Ajo


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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Allende on top form - but a harrowing central theme, 2 Dec 2004
By 
C. Nation "chrisnation" (Bristol UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Paula (Paperback)
I read this book for two reasons. Firstly, because I love Allende's writing. I have all her books and I have even bought three of her novels in Spanish, as an incentive to make progress with the language. The second reason is that my secretary's daughter died in '02, after many years of slow decline, at the same age as Paula.

I hoped I might find something in the heart-wrenching account that Allende gives us of Paula's plight that might help me help my friend in her grief. The description of Paula's illness and death is masterfully written. Allende spares herself and us nothing in the intensity of her description: this comes through even in the midst of the dreadful pain that Allende suffered and continues to suffer. On finishing the book, completely wrung out by the end, I felt that there is nothing comparable to the grief of a mother bereaved. What Allende has described with such searing clarity, the furious, inconsolable grief of a mother whose child has died, is what I see in the eyes my friend. Those without children, as I am, cannot visit that place.

Her description of her family and Chile and life, alternating with the passages of the account of Paula's passing, are intriguing and colourful in the best Allende fashion. An interesting aspect, for me, is in trying to gauge how much Allende the story-teller is predominant over Allende the factual writer. After all, she admits that she has 40 versions of how she met her second husband - and he says they're all true. However embroidered her account of her family and life in Chile and elsewhere might be, it's rich in atmosphere and spirit, as we have come to know of Allende's writing - and it is blessed relief from the rigours of her account of her daughter's final year.

A tough and touching book.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and Inspiring, 3 Sep 2003
By 
Andrew McMurtrie (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Paula (Paperback)
I have read Allende's work before and was aware of this particular book. But I was not sure what led me to read Paula. My motivation most probably would have been trying to deal with an illness that has befallen a family member close to me. What Allende did do was allow me to better understand the complexities, mysteries and anger of dealing with such tragic events.
Paula is very accesible to read, yet operates on many levels. It allows the reader to take out of the book both deep emotional meaning or just enjoy, albeit with great sorrow, the amazing and unique style of Allende.
Read this if you are interested in how national and international politics and changing social mores affect one family; how humans confront the manifold experiences, good and bad, laid before us. As trite as it sounds, Paula reminded me there is more to life than the immediate moment and surroundings. It shows us to both live life to the fullest, but also be patient when times are hard. Or simply read Paula if you are after a great piece of writing that would be fitting for a fictional novel, if it were not for the real tragedy that inspired it.
Befitting Allende's style of writing, magic-realism transcends the book, especially Allende's references to the spirits of her family that come to her at certain times. The meaning I drew from this was that we can draw inspiration, reflect and use our memories of those past to guide us forward and assist us in times of sadness, or emphasise the happiness we feel other times.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I have never recommended a book so highly and so frequently, 29 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Paula (Paperback)
I can't believe no-one else has yet reviewed this book! I haven't stopped recommending it since I read it last year. One of the reviewers of this book referred to it as 'melodramatic in the best sense of the word' and this is the essence of why this book is so compelling. The stories contained in this novel provide an extended expression of a mother's love for her daughter and like a mother's love the book is passionate and simultaneously sentimental. The boisterous, funny and poignant images of Allende family life that are evoked are familiar to all. Yet the South American influence gives the story a colour, clarity and a depth that take it outside the realm of the domestic. I can't imagine anyone not enjoying this novel. The sentimental will cry buckets, the passionate will recognise characters as themselves, the 'sensible' will hanker after a life lived with such extreme feeling and spirituality, the hard hearted will be shamed into compassion in the presence of a desolated mother at the death of a beloved and incredible daughter. NB. I read this novel whilst working on the Reception of the Institutional Banking department of the Commonwealth Bank, Sydney, Australia. My sincere apologies to those visitors who, on interruping my reading, were met with my tearful red eyed expression - Read it for yourselves and abandon any hopes of maintaining your composure.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An historical and passionate account of love and desperation, 3 Dec 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Paula (Paperback)
It is indeed a surprising that so few people have commented on such an emotional and intense work of literature. I read this book nearly two years ago and I still feel some heartache whenever it is mentioned. Allende puts her heart into this work more than in any of her others. This passionate account of her daughter's illness and fate is coupled with an historical account of life in Chile under Salvatore Allende and Augusto Pinochet. Allende manages to combine her deeply personal emotions with historical fact in a novel that cannot fail to move and touch you. Unless devoid of emotions, you certainly will shed a tear, grip the book in anger or simply sit back and think about how lucky you are to be alive and healthy.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 16 Oct 2001
This review is from: Paula (Paperback)
I have never cried so much with a book. In this book Isabel Allende talks about her own life and the life of her family with the same magic as if she was talking about one of the characters in her books. It is interesting to see how some members of her family and people she has met have inspired her to create the characters of her other books.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly her best book, wonderful !, 12 July 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Paula (Paperback)
Although being an admirer of Allende and having red all her previous books (in addition to being hispanophile with several trips to S-American countries including Chile) I decided in advance not to read this book. "Nobody can well write about such a tragedy as losing her/his own child, it must be depressing." was my bold statement. My wife red it and recommended it warmly so I gave it a try. How wrong I was ! All about love and good and bad things in life (and death) of persons and a whole people, so humane it makes you cry and laugh... and think about the great gift of life and love. Possibly and in my opinion probably her best, leaving the reader deeply touched and wiser about life and love.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking but Beautiful, 23 Mar 2012
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Paula (Paperback)
A brave, heartbreaking account of the last days of Allende's daughter Paula, who fell ill from porphyria in her twenties, fell into a coma and (partly due to a medical error) never recovered. In the days that she sat by Paula's bedside, first at the hospital in Madrid where Paula was sent and later in her California home, Allende told her daughter the story of her family. Thus 'Paula' is both a beautifully-written autobiography of Allende, and an account, which manages to never be gruesome or self-indulgent, of Allende's slowly watching her daughter deteriorate, until she and the rest of her family came to feel Paula's death as a release. This is a wonderfully readable book, and, despite its subject, not at all depressing. Allende's family story is addictive, and contains a huge cast of wonderful, larger-than-life characters, including her delicate clairvoyant grandmother (the model for Clara in 'The House of the Spirits'), her fierce patrician grandfather (the model for Esteban in 'The House of the Spirits' though 'Tata' sounds a much nicer man), her gentle mother, her rogue of a father, who deserted her mother when Isabel was only two, her stepfather Tio Ramon, full of joie de vivre and fierce intelligence, her kindly first husband Miguel (I'm not entirely sure why he's always referred to as 'Michael' in this memoir and as 'Miguel' in her other memoirs), her anglophile parents-in-law, Paula herself and her brother Nicolas, Nicolas's wife Celia (once a member of Opus Dei), Isabel's second husband Willy, the love of her life, and numerous friends and colleagues. Historically, the memoir is fascinating, covering life in Chile from post-World War II to the Pinochet coup and its terrible aftermath, and moving on to the Allende family's life in exile, first in Venezuela and then in Europe (Paula) and in California (Isabel, Nicolas and Celia). Allende writes chillingly and wonderfully about the Pinochet regime, and brings a real sense of atmosphere to the descriptions of all the places that have been important to her. This book is also full of humour, particularly in Allende's descriptions of her eccentric upbringing, and her attempts to find a job and early career as a journalist. And there's plenty of very interesting material about her writing. She even keeps a lively tone in the sections dealing with Paula's hospitalization, bringing to life a whole team of doctors, nurses and extrovert patients, including one flamenco dancer. And the ending, in which Allende works through her grief to finally let her daughter go, is beautifully and poetically written. A very brave achievement, and a must for anyone interested in Latin America or family relationships.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of my favorite books ever, 12 Sep 2009
This review is from: Paula (Paperback)
a book in which intense pain coexists with humour, laughter, and love. and yes it makes you feel wiser about the mystery of life and the depths of human experience
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I cried and laughed at the same time!!!, 18 Dec 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Paula (Paperback)
This book is absolutely amazing! While you read it, you think that Isabel Allende is talking to you and tells you all her story. I laughed and cried at the same time, as this writer's way of displaying the story is something different. Her writing is a gift that I have not found in other writers. Imagine that when I read The house of Spirits I finished it in ONE day. I spent 24 hours whithout doing anything else. In 'Paula', there is something different; Allende although tired, exhausted and sad for her daughter, has the ability to connect historical events with her daughter's illness. I certainly learned a lot regarding history and I cried a lot for Paula. To conclude, I suggest that this book should be read by Allende's fans as soon as possible... Amazing!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Paula, 27 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Paula (Paperback)
I enjoy the way Isobel Allende puts words together. I like the vocabulary she uses and I enjoy her descriptions.
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Paula
Paula by Isabel Allende (Paperback - 1 April 2008)
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