Catherine's Reviews > My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile

My Invented Country by Isabel Allende
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's review
Apr 11, 2010

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bookshelves: 2010, 50books_poc2010, chile
Read in April, 2010

"With many events and anecdotes from my life," writes Allende, "it seems I have lived them, but when I write them down in the clear light of logic, they seem unlikely. This really doesn't disturb me, however. What does it matter if these events happened or if I imagined them? Life is, after all, a dream."

So exists the central paradox at the heart of this book, a paradox that Allende is happy to face head on and consider from all angles - of what stuff is the fabric of her nostalgia for Chile made? To what extent is the country of her youth a tangle of imaginary hope, as much as real memory? In answering - and circumventing, and writing poetry from the question - Allende is in turns brash, cruel, funny, and wise. There's much that discomfited me in this book, especially Allende's characterization of the indigenous people of Chile, and yet there is a piercing insight and wry humor about her portrayal of all classes, groups, races, and communities of people in Chile that suggests she holds everything dear while censuring all. It's an odd tight-rope to walk as a reader, and surely an odd one for the author also, which ultimately adds up to a wry, uncomfortable, strangely charming memoir that may be as much fiction as fact.

I grew increasingly fond of this book as I kept reading, and I imagine I'll still be thinking about its complexities for days to come.

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