^'s Reviews > The House of the Spirits

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
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Oct 16, 14

bookshelves: fiction, history, novel, review-liked, author-female, books-with-100000-plus-ratings
I own a copy, read count: 1

This book is a typical representation of the general guideline I follow in buying books from ‘trusted’ publisher: for example (but not limited to) John Murray, Faber & Faber, Jonathan Cape, Alfred A Knopf. I found this particular volume for sale in a charity shop, for £1. Given that its original shrink wrap was still intact, this seemed a good deal.

For the first 26 pages I felt somewhat at sea. I like to get my bearings in reading as quickly as possible; usually within the first five pages. This, for some reason, took me a little longer, despite my already having read Christopher Hitchen’s 10 page introduction. I felt completely out of sorts with myself in trying to understand why the cover reviewers of this book praised the work do highly.

I stuck with it, the fog lifted, the sea calmed, events fell into place (which helped a lot). I dithered as to whether to put the book down and go and read-up on the twentieth century history of Chile; in the end laziness cut in and I carried on reading the novel, methodically working out who was who, and how related, without only the occasional difficulty causing me to skim back.

Once I’d successfully slipped into the author’s style and characterisation, I discovered myself becoming deeply engrossed in the plots of her text. Another decision point loomed. I decided to take note of but largely ignore the non-fictional layer of history – a deeper understanding of that could come at a later reading. Freed up thus, I happily read to the end of the book. The bittersweet satisfaction of reaching the end (the epilogue) then hit. Completely unrealistically (I thought), I hadn’t, after all, wanted the enjoyment of reading this book to finish.

I then lent this book to an older friend, who gave it back to me within a week, unread. She couldn't get into 'the spirit' of it at all.
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