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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a fantastic book!
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...
Published on 2 Feb 2004 by Pete

versus
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I just couldn't get into it!
I was really looking forward to reading this as I'd heard so much about it. Sad to say, the book is 500 pages long but I gave up on page 211. I understand what Allende is trying to do with her characters and events - it's all very ambitious, and there are metaphors everywhere. Also, some of the whimsical supernatural stuff is quite sweet. But on the whole I just found the...
Published on 27 Jun 2012 by Jemma S


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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a fantastic book!, 2 Feb 2004
This review is from: The House Of The Spirits (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). This book could be read as a fictional account of Chile between 1910 and 1980, but I would recommend it more simply as a masterpiece of modern fiction and a classic to be enjoyed by lovers of fiction of all ages.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clara, Clearest Clairvoyant!! Magical visitations in Isabel Allende's House!, 1 Sep 2008
By 
J. S. Lewison (Bolton, Lancs United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The House Of The Spirits (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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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magic turns sour, 19 May 2003
By 
Mr. Paul J. Bradshaw (Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The House Of The Spirits (Paperback)
This is a pretty incredible book from Allende - the only thing that stops me giving it five stars is a somewhat unnecessary occasional swap in narrative from third to first person.
This Peruvian author is very much in the Marquez tradition - a cast of bizarre characters telling a story that covers generations and includes psychic abilities, ghosts and bizarre accidents.
What makes this book special is how it takes your affection for this family from the unusual to the deeply serious, as revolution ravages the country. The final 150 pages or so are harrowing stuff, and deeply affect you.
The plot is compelling, the characters brilliantly drawn, and an amazing achievement for a first novel.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good family saga, 25 May 2006
This review is from: The House Of The Spirits (Paperback)
Allende weaves the political and the personal together in this wide-ranging work, held together by the family relationships which lie at its core. However, if you are looking for a political novel, you may not like this book, as there is a lot of emphasis on personal relationships. It was easy to become involved in the book, despite the fact that the main character, Trueba, has some unsympathetic traits. The changes between the generations are convincingly rendered and some of the characters are attractively quirky. This was an enjoyable read because of its exuberant spirit, but you have to be prepared for the occasional acerbic comment. Allende does write about romantic relationships but she is not naive, either about love or about politics. One reservation is that the magical elements don't seem to add very much. Allende might have done better to stick to straightforward realism. The style is good, although it might be even better in the original Spanish. In general, a book to be recommended.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 21 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The House Of The Spirits (Paperback)
Similar to Garcia Marquez's "100 years of solitude" this novel mixes magic, religion, love, realism, history, political ideology, etc to tell the story of 4 generations of family history. I just kept on reading and reading, seeing how the characters change as they grow up and age, and as they face achievements and disappointments.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars tomlindup@hotmail.com, 26 Jan 2006
By 
Thomas Lindup "tlindup" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Magic realism, at its best, should appear extrtaordinary, yet somehow believable. Allende's portrayal of the interesting lives of certain members of her family, is so convincing, that their connection with the other world is almost treated like a debilitating defect, a characterisitic that the family accept, yet at the same time is a little ashamed of. The playing down of such traits (if true, and of this I am still unsure) makes the logically impossible appear real. The story centre's on the lives of three generations of Truebas. At it's heart the book attempts to show, that peoples paths are predetermined and any desire to change what is preordained is both futile and destructive. Trueba is a man against the world. He is a self made man, who believes in order. The book insinuates that being a self made man, he is more concerned about others' perception of his family, than of his family's wellbeing, however, one gets the distinct impression throughout that Trueba believes that what he is doing is right. Battles are fought on every front, and ultimately, he fails in all of these, bar the financial struggle, the vanquishing of which he achieves in his youth. The life of the family is set against the political developments in the unnamed country, which we all assume to be Chile and in particular two different takes on the onset of socialism. Trueba, beleives that his form of conservative pragmatism is to be maintained, whilst almost all members of his family become aware of the social injustice that is preserved through the maintenance of the status quo. This conflict is only reconciled at the end of the book. It is an enlightening and ultimately comforting read, that convincingly illuminates the destructive force that radical ideology can have on a family.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Author, 23 May 2014
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This review is from: The House Of The Spirits (Paperback)
Have read almost all of Isabel Allende's books - this one I have not read yet but have seen the film twice, amazing story and based on the author's life and background.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The House of Spirits, 28 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The House Of The Spirits (Paperback)
Book was chosen for our book club. Good story, took a little while to get into it, but very compelling!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece, 18 Nov 2013
This review is from: The House Of The Spirits (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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5.0 out of 5 stars tragical, comical, spiritual, amazing book, 30 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The House Of The Spirits (Paperback)
a family saga which containers over more than 100 years of history of South America... but what an extraordinary saga. Sometimes you have to laugh, sometimes you have to hold breath because of all tragedies, combined with some spiritual and political issues. Amazing book, shows us also how a country is looking for its way how to be ruled, showing that both Communism as Fascism does not work...
a must read!
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The House Of The Spirits
The House Of The Spirits by Isabel Allende (Paperback - 8 Aug 1986)
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