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12 Reviews
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read
What a wonderful book this is. It is difficult to imagine that this is a work of translation because it reads so fluidly. I have found this to be a captivating story, linking the worlds of North and South America during the 1800's. Not only am I reading about the convoluted relationships of this extended family, I am also learning about the history of South America in...
Published on 10 Aug 2002

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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All talk and no black pyjama trousers
This was my first Isabelle Allende and I probably chose the wrong one. The only McGuffin driving the plot is Aurora's nightmare and frankly by the end I didn't care what the resolution was. The main character just does not give you enough to make you care about her and the other characters are two-dimensional stereotypes. By the end, it felt like I was reading a book...
Published on 11 Aug 2005 by Temudjin Oh


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read, 10 Aug 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Portrait in Sepia (Paperback)
What a wonderful book this is. It is difficult to imagine that this is a work of translation because it reads so fluidly. I have found this to be a captivating story, linking the worlds of North and South America during the 1800's. Not only am I reading about the convoluted relationships of this extended family, I am also learning about the history of South America in a completely unexpected way.
I would highly recommend this book as a genteel and beautifully written work.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful, 16 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Portrait in Sepia (Hardcover)
On the same line of the other books written by Isabel Allende, in this book she takes you through the lives of fascinating characters, seamless going from one storyline to another and intertwining them to create a central plot with her wonderful and unmistakable style. This book is a true pleasure to the senses. One of the best books I have read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An irresistible epic, 17 July 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Portrait in Sepia (Paperback)
Having waited in anticipation for the publication of this book in paperback, it lived up to all expectations - a wonderful read.
I was overwhelmed by House of Spirits when it was first published and since then have eagerly read everything from this author ( high point - Eva Luna, low point - the Infinite Plan).
This book, incorporating characters from both House of Spirits and Daughter of Fortune, was irresistible. One of the greatest pleasures was casting new light on figures already familiar. Amusing,heartfelt,thoughtful, with insights into life in 19th century Chile and San Francisco's Chinatown, wonderful characterisation, an intriguing heroine in Aurora and an engrossing plot,this is another compelling masterpiece.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous tale, 27 Nov 2011
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This review is from: Portrait in Sepia (Paperback)
A fabulous tale in its own right, following Aurora's life journey from North to South America and elsewhere, but also a very satisfying sequel to Daughter of Fortune - completing the saga of Eliza and Tao Chi'en. Compelling story-telling of the highest order, illuminating the human condition with all its strengths, frailties and emotional turbulence.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous read, 10 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Portrait in Sepia (Paperback)
Unbelievably well written, imaginative and informative. Spellbound by the characters and the events that unfold. .greedy for more food for the soul
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5.0 out of 5 stars great book, 8 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Portrait in Sepia (Paperback)
Amazing book! Read it after you read the "daughter of fate" (no idea if that is the correct english title!!)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Exotic, 13 July 2008
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DubaiReader "MaryAnne" (Rowlands Castle, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Portrait in Sepia (Paperback)
It took me a while to get into this book; there is a mass of family history to wade through at the beginning. After that things improved though I don't paticularly enjoy her style - long wordy sentances can become a bit tiresome after a while.

This is the story of Aurora (Lai Ming) de Valle, narrated initially by her "uncle" Severo del Valle and subsequently by herself. Her exotic ancestry includes Chinese, Chilean, and English and she starts her life in ChinaTown, Sanfransisco.
Her privileged life is haunted by memories from her childhood and she searches for the roots of these memories for many years. One event in particular causes her to have terrible nightmares but she has no idea what the cause of these is.
The book is full of colourful characters, especially her maternal grandfather Tao Chi'en and paternal grandmother Paulline del Valle (for whom I kept reading de Ville!)

This is my 4th Isabel Allende book and my favourite is still Paula, an autobiographcal account told to her dying daughter. It was so sad. Having read Paula though, House of Spirits made so much more sense, likewise Portrait in Sepia, both of which seemed rather far fetched until I knew a little about her background. Her real life has been full of such exotic, wacky characters.

An interesting, slightly slow read
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All talk and no black pyjama trousers, 11 Aug 2005
This review is from: Portrait in Sepia (Paperback)
This was my first Isabelle Allende and I probably chose the wrong one. The only McGuffin driving the plot is Aurora's nightmare and frankly by the end I didn't care what the resolution was. The main character just does not give you enough to make you care about her and the other characters are two-dimensional stereotypes. By the end, it felt like I was reading a book outline which needed to have the characters fleshed out and a plot backbone inserted.
I can only assume that readers who enjoyed this are feeling an after-glow from previous (and I assume much better) Allende works.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Struggling in the wake of her other excellent books, 29 Sep 2003
This review is from: Portrait in Sepia (Hardcover)
For fans of Isabel Allende this will come as a disappointment. After the breath-taking, wide-ranging House of the Spirits, Portrait in Sepia just doesn't come up to scratch. The historical events surrounding the narrative are less dramatic, and we are not charmed by the heroine as we were in either House of the Spirits or Daughter of Fortune.
That said, if you are new to Allende you will not find her wanting: all of her writing is fantastic. Similarly, if you have read House of the Spirits and Daughter of Fortune then the satisfaction of fitting together the characters is not to be underrated. Sequels are tricky things: they can beat their predecessors hands down, or lose miserably. In this case, Portrait in Sepia does more to enhance a re-reading of House of the Spirits than it does for itself. (And to be honest, re-reading House of the Spirits is something that should be done at least once.)
So I'm not saying you should reject this book out of hand, but be prepared for what it is - enjoyable, but only as enjoyable as an inevitable disappointment can be.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very cheesy but readable cheese, 14 Mar 2007
This review is from: Portrait in Sepia (Paperback)
This is the kind of book for which you should read on a beach. Or at least, before you read it, approach it like a latin or an australian soap opera! It's very romantic and overblown and sentimental and faintly ridiculous at times. I agree with other reviewers who said that some of the characters' behaviour was quite unbelieavable . I did get a sense of Chile in these ker-razy times, and I also that her descriptions of San Francisco were very evocative, and it's definitely easy to read; but the characterisation of the English was pretty laughable. I'm English and it did make me laugh at times when it was probably supposed to be dramatic - maybe I'm too accostomed to un-romantic, succint british literature! The House of the Spirits is better, and marginally less cheesy. Daughter of Fortune was pretty ridiculous too but you may as well start with that if you intend to read this.
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Portrait in Sepia
Portrait in Sepia by Isabelle Allende (Paperback - Nov 2002)
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