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The House of the Spirits

(Involuntary trilogy #3)

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  231,197 ratings  ·  11,749 reviews
In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies. Here is patriarch Esteban, whose wild desires and political machinations are tempered only by his love for his ethereal wife, Clara, a woman touched by an otherwor ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published August 30th 2005 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published January 1st 1982)
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Ashley Will A very hard R because there is multiple depictions of rape, sexual contact by an adult with a young child, and an abortion procedure scene that made m…moreA very hard R because there is multiple depictions of rape, sexual contact by an adult with a young child, and an abortion procedure scene that made me squirm. Definitely not a good book to read with all of those issues that you mentioned. This book definitely made me uncomfortable to read and I took breaks and I feel like I read it slower than other books of the same page length. (less)
Megan Given it's contents, I wouldn't go any younger than a Young Adult audience. They're old enough to know about all the kinds of things that are describe…moreGiven it's contents, I wouldn't go any younger than a Young Adult audience. They're old enough to know about all the kinds of things that are described in the book.(less)
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Average rating 4.26  · 
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 ·  231,197 ratings  ·  11,749 reviews

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House of the Spirits started my love affair with Isabel Allende's writing twenty years ago. I remember how the first line "Barrabas came to us from the sea" left me captivated and eager to read on. In college, I was fortunate that La Casa de los Espiritus was required reading for one of my classes, so I read the prose a second time in Spanish. Allende's writing is exceptional in both languages.

Recently, I completed Allende's memoir The Sum of Our Days. She reveals that Clara represents her own
Jun 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Gabriel Garcia Marquez comparisons aside, it's hard to review this book without references to the magical realism and the narrative styles of Latin America.

I truly believe that anyone not familiar with the above mentioned, would likely be a bit thrown, even put off by these influences. Still, this is a brilliantly written story, epic in its truest sense. Covering four generations of women (with a man as the common thread between them), it races through the simplicity of the old world into the c
Kevin Ansbro
"If this world is going to be a better place for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, it will be women who make it so."
—Isabel Allende.

The House of the Spirits is a tumultuous epic which chronicles four generations of two extraordinary families.
The eponymous house is large: it boasts three courtyards and a Chiléan version of the Addams Family.
Imagine too, if you will, Barrabás, the somewhat unnatural domesticated dog/horse, who was ill-advisedly fed olive oil until he covered th
Emily May
Aug 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
When I was a kid, me and my brother used to spend most weekends at our grandparents house. And most of those weekends we would watch one of the same two movies on the good ol' VCR: Steel Magnolias and The House of the Spirits. No one seems to know the latter movie when I mention it, but it starred a bunch of impressive names: Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Glenn Close, Antonio Banderas and Winona Ryder. My memory might be painting a better picture than the truth, but me and my brother LOVED the mov ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
(Book 276 from 1001 books) - La Casa De Los Espíritus = The House of The Spirits, Isabel Allende

The House of the Spirits, is the debut novel of Isabel Allende. The novel was rejected by several Spanish-language publishers before being published in Buenos Aires in 1982. It became an instant best seller, was critically acclaimed, and catapulted Allende to literary stardom. The novel was named Best Novel of the Year in Chile in 1982, and Allende received the country's Panorama Literario award. The
Nov 26, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: foreign-language
2.5 stars, actually. (Still waiting for Goodreads to give me that half-star option.) Let's be honest, Isabel Allende is chick lit that you're not embarrassed to read on the Metro. It's got just enough faux-Garcia-Marquez, magical-realism-lite charm to fool people into thinking it's moderately intellectual. I don't have a big problem with that (as long as people realize what's going on) because Allende is a fine storyteller. This novel, her first and most famous, is a fairly traditional family sa ...more

Esteban, Trueba,
how does your childhood grow?
With fear and guilt and such hard work
and a love that leaves you low.
In thoughts of grief and thoughts of rage,
and a slump of of broken land,
you will rape your heart out, Esteban,
set life to your demand.

Clara, Clara, clairvoyant,
how does your marriage keep?
With magic silent and so near,
to where your children sleep.
When tragedy has struck your home,
and the bull is in the shop,
reality will find you there,
your disengagement stop.

Humans, humans, high
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have never in my life read a book where SO MUCH HAPPENS. AY. Generation after generation of DEATH AND DESTRUCTION, AMIRITE? I seriously don't know how to rate this book. Personally it wasn't a favourite, I found myself overwhelmed and bombarded with so much tragedy and injustice and found no love in any of the characters, but I really appreciated so much of what happened and really enjoyed learning more about magical realism.

Here's my video review of this! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awofw
Kimber Silver
"In almost every family there’s a fool or a crazy person."
—Isabel Allende

The House of the Spirits is set in the capital of an unnamed Latin American country during the twentieth century, and that is where I first met the del Valles.

Patriarch, Severo del Valle, has lofty political aspirations, but his magical, out-of-control family doesn’t quite conform to his ideals, leading to conflicts that are both laughable and tragic. Unworldly Rosa del Valle, the oldest daughter, is graced with a sple
I did not finish this book. I didn't think it was one of the worst books for me but it was simply not destined to entertain me. There was some potential in it. But it was disjointed. I tried further than I should've, because it's a rec, and I've already got 3 likes from it, but when a book is spurned in favor of David Copperfield, that tells the whole story. Another thing that made me try harder than usual is the cover. It's so wonderful. But the book, not for me. ...more
Why I chose to read this book:
1. I love Isabel Allende's writing style; and,
2. since February is my self-appointed "Classics Month", Allende's debut novel must be included!

How does one write a review for an epic book such as this that others haven't already said? I will try by sharing my humble personal thoughts.

1. Allende's unique gift of telling the saga of one Chilean family, combining magical realism with authenticity, is incredibly awe-inspiring in its look into humanity. For the
A historical and fantastic novel, I admit that it left me perplexed and that I started reading this intrigued, not sure of liking. Well, I won! This mix of genres, coupled with Isabel Allende's talents as a storyteller, takes us to a South American country (Chile is never named) from the beginning of the 20th century to the dictatorship. So many subjects had discussed, and the characters are very complex; the magic is present without heaviness. An interesting and pleasant reading! ...more
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wow! If you look up 'epic family dramas, sweeping sagas' you are sure to find the The House of the Spirits at the top of the list. It's hard to capture what this book covers as it covers so much. The story of the three generations of the Trueba family. How their lives have changed over many, many years. Their loves, grief, joy, family, politics, greed, desires, and more. I felt that there was so much heartbreak and tragedy in this story. But I kept thinking about this one....even when I was not ...more
Mar 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This took me some time to read as I wanted to savour it for as long as possible and not have it end. This is my first Allende novel which depicts an epic story of a Latin American family that spans 3 generations. Weaved throughout are hints of mysticism, history, political unrest, cultural richness along with vivid descriptions of a cast of characters in which some evoke ethereal auras and others violent furies.

Allende’s masterful style of writing is lavish with foreshadowing and thematic contra
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: as-movies, paranormal
Our souls has no place in this world even if we lived in a one thousands room House
We continue to run madly behind freedom and love,money and beauty; justice and power; master ship and independence
For 75 years, and three families Allende have taken us to run behind the mirage and fall under the disappointments of an old house.that opened for her the door of literature kingdom

We struggle and suffer isolation and cruelty and alienation must defeat us

There are many kinds of life that makes you r
May 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2008
I really wish I could say this is an amazing book, worthy of so much thoughtful praises, etc., but that would just be a lie. Given how much I enjoy good writing—and this book definitely has it all, like a beautifully crafted essay that speaks with prominent characters and conflicts between generations of families—it’s kind of weird for me to say this book is just okay. I mean, the only thing I like from this entire book is the language: the metaphors, descriptions, the lines that sound so poetic ...more
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
100 Years of Solitude except not boring, is what Isabel Allende's 1982 landmark of magical realism is. Like Gabriel Garcia Marquez's epic, it follows several cyclic generations of a family through the history of a country. But it has an immediacy that 100 Years, with its frustrating mist, lacks; the story is better. It's a better book; it's the best book in the magical realism genre I've read.

South American literature is different from the rest - no, seriously, it is, I know that's a huge genera
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Passions, Politics, Psychics in Three Generations of Chilean Family

Isabel Allende's stunning saga, The House of the Spirits, spans three generations of the Chilean Trueba family ending a few years after the Sept. 11, 1973 government overthrow led by General Pinochet, the awful right-wing dictator who, with the U.S. govt's support, seized the chance opened upon fears that Marxists would take over Chile.

Ms. Allende', who to my mind should soon be Chile's 3d Nobel Laureate in Literature, wrote the
Margaret M - hiatus (Limited access- will message when I can)
The house of Spirits by Isabel Allende, is a sweeping and epic story which chronicles the lives, fortunes, torment and rise and fall of three generations of the Trueba-del Valle family, in Latin America.

The early part of the book focuses on Rosa the beautiful and Clara the clairvoyant and their lives in a simple but stable home. In parallel, the story of Esteban Trueba begins, the central male character, whose brutality and cruelty are brought into sharp focus through his treatment of his land
Michael Finocchiaro
Isabelle Allende's first novel was a bildungsroman covering four generations of a family with lightly veiled allusions to actual people in Allende's family and circle of acquaintances and enemies. A true chef d'oeuvre, it is a book written with the courage of the niece of the assassinated Salvador Allende and yet does not come off a just a bitter vengeful book but rather is a fictionalised history of Chile also incorporating the magical realism of Marquez with her own unique female perspective. ...more
Aug 27, 2015 rated it liked it
One of the problems with a family saga is that people inevitably have to get old and die and sometimes when the best character goes the story loses its focus. I enjoyed a lot of this book but felt that when one main character left the scene she was not really replaced by any of the others and my interest waned. I read on to the end but did not really become involved in the final chapters at all. Still a good book and I can understand why it is a favorite for many people.
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
"Nana had the idea that a good fright might make the child speak, and spent nine years inventing all sorts of desperate strategies for frightening Clara, the end result of which was to immunize the girl forever against terror and surprise. Soon Clara was afraid of nothing. She was unmoved by the sudden appearance of the most livid and undernourished monsters in her room, or by the knock of devils and vampires at her bedroom window. Nana dressed up as a headless pirate, as the executioner of the ...more
Paul Bryant
Jan 30, 2022 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels

Since The House of the Spirits is all about Chile I thought I’d check out some history on Wikipedia. I found a page called Timeline of Chilean History. So I was reading that and I came across this under the year 2006 – it was a classic WTF moment :

Strange Missile Accident in Chile killing 50,000 citizens as investigators call it just an accident, some think is was planned to hit the oceans of California but went wrong. Sources say tha
Sep 29, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-5-stars
5 stunning stars!

This book was originally published in 1982, in Buenos Aires.
It was the author’s debut.
This was my first time reading Isabel Allende, and I can’t express enough the joy I had while reading this book.

What an epic drama!

I was swept away.

The story details the life of the Trueba family, spanning four generations, between 1910 and 1970s, and tracing the post-colonial social and political upheavals of Chile

Although my edition was translated from the Spanish, the translator, Magda Bog
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for years and is Allende’s first novel. It covers ninety years of Chilean history and is written in the form of a family saga with a strong element of magic realism. In part it charts the rise and fall of Salvador Allende, who was deposed in 1973. Although Allende prefers to see it as reflecting the history of Latin America. The novel covers three generations of the Trueba and Del Valle families. The character running through the whole is the family patri ...more
Dec 18, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Moving from meandering rich people problems, family conflicts and people that just don’t change, to three absolutely brutal final chapters set during the rise to dictatorship in Chile
You always think it will happen somewhere else, till it happens here

If The House of the Spirits would have been completely focused on the events of 1973 this would have been a definite 4 star book for me. The first 2/3 of the book felt like boring rich people problems with a pinch of magic: the main character was co
Robert Beveridge
Jan 10, 2008 rated it did not like it
Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits (Knopf, 1985)

The House of the Spirits has set a new record at Goat Central. I have been trying to read this book for three years. Three solid years (well, just shy. Another two weeks and I would have made the anniversary). Why did I keep trying? Because when I'm actually reading it, it's not half bad. But every time I put it down, there is nothing, not a single thing, about it that makes me want to pick it up again. So I'll end up going six to eight month
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translated, owned
[Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher with no obligation for a review. Also they sent it 2 years ago, so sorry, Atria! But I did finally get to it.]

How can so much happen in one book? And yet it's still pretty accessible and readable. There are a lot of characters—but the story is mainly seen through the lens of three strong women in a South American family: Clara, Blanca and Alba. They live through turbulent times, wars and rebellions, and are surrounded by violent men. Yet thr
Jul 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
haha, so my sophomore honors english teacher decided he wanted to read a book with us for the first time, so he asked our department head to recommend a book. we all died, because mr. wells could not deal with talking about sex, and mr. hackling knew this, and he assigned this book. i mean, a couple of pages in, there's all this graphic rape in the fields going on! and then there's the creepy ass count . . .

i really loved the book though. it's layered, it's complex, it's beautiful. the imagery
The House of the Spirits has a lot of aspects I normally wouldn't even consider reading about, and I only started reading this book because it is a famous classic that's been recommended to me several times before. I usually don't like historical fiction set in a modern period, and I am very skeptical towards the concept of a 'family saga', which is the major theme here. Nevertheless, rating this anything lower than five stars would be a great injustice to one of the absolute best books ever wri ...more
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Isabel Allende Llona is a Chilean-American novelist. Allende, who writes in the "magic realism" tradition, is considered one of the first successful women novelists in Latin America. She has written novels based in part on her own experiences, often focusing on the experiences of women, weaving myth and realism together. She has lectured and done extensive book tours and has taught literature at s ...more

Other books in the series

Involuntary trilogy (3 books)
  • Daughter of Fortune
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The minds of authors can be mysterious places. How do they come up with all those plot twists? What inspired them to create their most beloved...
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“This is to assuage our conscience, darling" she would explain to Blanca. "But it doesn't help the poor. They don't need charity; they need justice.” 225 likes
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