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The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
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's review
Aug 17, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: amelia-reviews

There are too many emotions and too many characters to roll up this novel in a simple string of adjectives. While the book is like a multi-level mansion of complexity and rich layers to explore, there are also the characters’ versatile and evolving dimensions. Bear with me as I try to do this book justice in describing my tumultuous feelings wrought while reading this novel.

Esteban is a fist-clenching character. Not only does he have a habit of raising his hands to others, but he made this reader so mad that I couldn’t help whitening my own knuckles with his stubborn and unjust nature. And yet, I cannot hate him. Sometimes I do, but overall I can’t because I watch his character, as well as others, evolve over the years. Is Esteban an overbearing brute? Yes. Is he devotedly sweet to his granddaughter? Another, yes. Like all of the characters in this book, none of them could be depicted as flat stick figures.

Despite the involvement of other characters, as well as their varying first-person perspectives from different chapters, I cannot help zoning in on Esteban. If I described Clara with her whimsical personality and extrasensory abilities, I inevitably have to mention Esteban’s relationship with her and his obsession to possess his wife in a way that he does not deserve.

The same goes for Blanca and her relationship with Esteban – the controlling father figure, who disapproves of his daughter’s true love. Or, Alba – Esteban’s cherished granddaughter, who is the offspring of Blanca’s illicit love.

Though Esteban is not the main character of this book, he plays a vital role in everyone’s lives because of his controlling and outspoken nature. However, as Esteban’s children and grandchildren grow older, watching the influence of the patriarch switch in power with his descendants’ influence on politics and government is an amazing flip that makes my pancake crisp and delicious as a whole.

If you want a simplistic and predictable plot, don’t read this book. If you want complexity and insightfulness, you have found the right novel.

- EZRead Staffer, Amelia
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