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Archive 08-19 GR Discussions > May - The House of the Spirits: Chapter Discussions w/o spoilers

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message 1: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 3069 comments When reading that part of the book, I had some trouble with the "mystical" part; therefore, I substituted that part with a disability instead and it worked really well for me. That being said, as I have been mentioning in other threads, the role of magical realism with Hispanic authors is prevalent. I love that and am just becoming more aware of this.


message 2: by Katie (new)

Katie (katieisallbooked) | 319 comments I was so looking forward to this book and the discussion. Unfortunately, the only reading I'm doing right now is for my Nutrition & Wellness Consultant certification course. I've cut my "fun" reading back to 0 until this test is in the mail.

Hopefully I'll be able to pick this one up soon and jump into the discussions later in the month.


message 3: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
The beginning of this book definately is interesting. I'm not bothered by any of the mystical things, Clara being able to predict the future or move objects or Rosa's unique qualities. And I am finding all the characters interesting. What caught me off guard the most though was the shift in narrative. When it first happened I thought I had misread something, and had to go back and re-read parts to see what I was missing. Then I realized it was just a shift in who was telling the story. I think when Rosa's fiance started narrating it caught me off guard the most, to have a man telling the story, when I was thinking it was a woman telling the story.


message 4: by Holli (new)

Holli I've got a reserve in for this one and will start it ASAP...can't wait to join in on this one!! It sounds really good........


message 5: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 3069 comments Sheila don't get me wrong here, I was talking about the very beginning with the green hair etc. That was a little different for me. After that, the mystical part is really enjoyable and plays a significant part in the book. I am only 1/2 way through.


message 6: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 3069 comments I definintely agree with that. I thin Esteban, being the matriarch, is used to dominating everything so why not dominate the novel as well? I am wondering about the male Hispanic domination theme in literature and life.


message 7: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Interesting point Kelly Jo and Meg! It is almost like he is being rude and dominating, and interupting the female version of the story.


message 8: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 3069 comments Well Allende is considered a feminist so I am not surprised that she is depicting males as being weak and/or jerks. I love the feminist view this book is taking.


message 9: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 2175 comments I'm about 50 pages into it, and I'm not sure who our main character is. I thought it was going to be Rosa, but that's not to be. I wouldn't have thought it would be Esteban, but since he's the one with the 1st person POV... I think that's what's causing my confusion. I need to spend some time with this one this weekend, perhaps it'll clarify soon.


message 10: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 3069 comments Stick with it, it all comes together. It just gets better and better.


message 11: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Going to pick it up today if finally came to the library yeah :)


message 12: by Tish (new)

Tish | 59 comments I read this book years before and forgot most of the story :( I am enjoying it now :) I forgot about the shift from third to first person and I too had to go back. Allende lures you in with her style--at least for me.


message 13: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 275 comments I also read the book years ago. It was one of my first book group books.




message 14: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wldinnis) I have read a bit further in the book but I also find the shift in narrators to be a bit disturbing. I agree that Esteban is rudely interrupting the line of the story. He is definitely a domineering male once Rosa dies. He doesn't start off that way but definitely develops into that.


message 15: by ReneeB (new)

ReneeB I agree about the shift in narrators. I eventually caught on. But I thought it was nice to get Esteban's point of view sometimes. I also loved Clara's character.


message 16: by Robin (new)

Robin (robinsullivan) | 37 comments I don't find the shift disturbing - but it is a bit strange. Also as the book goes on it does give a bit of "spoiler" as certain times Esteban tells us things that we should not know yet. I find it interesting that the narration is coming from a man when so much about the book is about women. Esteban is an interesting character and the author does a good job exploring his character.


message 17: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 3069 comments Anyone get to page 301 yet? There is a definite quote in there dealing with the role of women in Chile.


message 18: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wldinnis) I am past page 301...now I have to go back and look!


message 19: by ReneeB (new)

ReneeB I think Esteban is just a product of that time. Men are in charge, especially the "patrons". I did feel a bit sorry for him though. I think he just needed to get away from his mother and sister and make something for himself. I think he put his heart and soul into restoring the Three Marias. I think he had to be firm to get the locals to work for him. I think he made their lives better. But I think this is when he because ruthless.


message 20: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wldinnis) I think Esteban had a more loving nature in him but he transferred that love to Rosa and when she died, he didn't tap into that love again for a long time after.


message 21: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I think Esteban probably has a soft side to him, but he may just be the type of male who does not want to show it. And while he is portrayed as hard and tough and mean, and as the "one in charge", I'm thinking that in the end it might come out that it really is the women who are the strong ones, who are "in charge", and they will have "seen through" his attitude the whole time.


message 22: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wldinnis) The women in this book are strong. Through their connection to the spiritual world and their strong beliefs, they are able to manage the men in their lives (or just ignore them as Clara did). Many men of that time era felt that to love a woman was to possess her. Esteban does not seem out of the ordinary there.


message 23: by Ruth (new)

Ruth My comment is more general than specific to any one chapter. I've read that this book is considered a feminist novel. I'm only a little more than a 1/3 of the way in but am wondering about the feminist aspect. The female characters are certainly independent and free thinking, but are they successful, happy, examples or role models? The female characters, thus far, appear very interesting and unique; perhaps, too much so. Is it a true feminist novel if we cannot relate to the characters and their situations? Any guidance greatly appreciated. Thanks.




message 24: by ReneeB (new)

ReneeB Oh, that rug of Barrabas! What was he thinking? I screamed inside too when I read Clara's reaction.


message 25: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Oh the Barrabas rug! That was horrible! Poor old Barrabas.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Feminism: let's put that into the context of the time period of the novel. When the story begins, women did not have the right to vote in most countries, including the US, and certainly not anywhere in Latin America. I think it is entirely possible that women did not have the right to own property or make decisions for themselves. So to think of this as a femninist novel, we must understand how much needed to be done for there to be women controlling their own destiny.

I think we're making way too much of Esteban's trying to control everything. While I'm sure there were men who were less ruthless and unlikeable in the time period of this novel, this was pretty much how things were (and in some cases still are), especially in Latin America. But his being so egotistical, helps the author to make the case for the need for women to step forward and be more independent.

Re: Nivea's head. I think it is pure symbolism. Some are calling this style of writing "magical realism". We used to call this symbolism. Anyway, she was the head of the feminist movement. That movement seems to have gotten somewhat derailed with her death - it lost it's head. Clara, too, is a symbol of this movement. She was silent for 9 years, and I think that represents that nothing was being done/said about women and women's rights during that time. Women were busy with spiritualism during that time, not focusing on the women's movement. She seems not to be "of this world" a lot, more self-centered, and I think that is the author's way of saying many women weren't paying attention to what was happening with women. Ferula was entirely domestic and church-oriented. She was a very weak character, symbolic of the fact that women who are entirely domestic and church-oriented are weak.




Elizabeth (Alaska) Kelly Jo, I finished the book, so moved over to the spoilers thread.


message 28: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) | 1445 comments Is anyone still interested in discussing the book? I'm not finished yet and got started only this weekend, but I'm on chapter 5. Anyone game?


message 29: by Maria (new)

Maria Elizabeth wrote: "Feminism: let's put that into the context of the time period of the novel. When the story begins, women did not have the right to vote in most countries, including the US, and certainly not anywher..."

There's something else, if I'm allowed to say I read the book already. I think it's copycat writing (think GG Marquez, who is the master of magic realism) and not very good at that. I was disappointed; she lost credibility with me.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Not at all interested in magical realism, Maria, but I'm going to check out your shelves. I agree, this wasn't very good.


message 31: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) | 1445 comments I think it was a tremendously well written book especially for a first novel. It's certainly not all happiness and light, but the woman is a gifted writer.


message 32: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) | 1445 comments This book reminds me of the Poisonwood Bible. The setting is depressing, there's a dominant male character that you really want to slap, but it's so well-written that you can't put it down.


message 33: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wldinnis) I enjoyed this book far more than The Poisonwood Bible. However, I do agree with wanting to slap the main male character.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I wanted to slap the author.


message 35: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I am still reading the book and am really enjoying it. I am currently on chapter 10, and agree that I would also still like to slap the main male character. I have not read The Poisonwood Bible yet, do have it on my shelf to read for next month, so I can't compare the two. And I have to be honest. I did not vote for this book, and was not going to read it originally when it was picked. But I finished Lolita early, so decided to read this one too, and am really enjoying it. I like the authors writing style, I like the mystical sides of the story, I love the funny strange things that happen, I love the shifting narrative, and am very interested to see how the story ends. So thank you to our moderator for nominating this book. I would never have picked it up to read if it had not been a monthly read here.


message 36: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Allende's books always use some magical realism, but this is by far the book in which she utilizes it the most. Her narratives are always shifting, which I think really helps to pull the reader along and rounds out the development of each character by looking at him/her from different pov. Has anyone ever seen the movie that was based on this book?


message 37: by Maria (new)

Maria Elizabeth wrote: "Not at all interested in magical realism, Maria, but I'm going to check out your shelves. I agree, this wasn't very good."

Good luck checking out my shelves. I just went in there and it's all botched up (they WERE listed alphabetically by author, although incomplete - who has time?) and now I can't unbotch. I can't find anything! I'll try to fix it again later.


Elizabeth (Alaska) Maria, I think if you just click on "author" at the top of the list it will sort it.


message 39: by Maria (new)

Maria Kelly Jo wrote: "Maria wrote: I think it's copycat writing (think GG Marquez, who is the master of magic realism) and not very good at that. I was disappointed; she lost credibility with me."

Maria, I've read a ..."


Look at 100 Years. That's enough for me.


message 40: by Maria (new)

Maria Elizabeth wrote: "Maria, I think if you just click on "author" at the top of the list it will sort it. "

thank you. I'll try it again.


message 41: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Kelly Jo, I've finished the book and I have to say I really did enjoy it. Gave it 4 stars in my rating. You asked if it helps to know something about the author in reading a book. For me it didn't make any difference with this book. I really know nothing about the author, have never read anything by the author, and truthfully I had never even heard of the author or book before it was nominated here. And it even took me awhile to figure out what country this book was taking place in. Since in said it was translated from Spanish, for some reason I was thinking it was taking place in Spain, and it took me awhile before I realized it was taking place in Chile. I just enjoyed the story, and even liked how the book ended.


message 42: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Kelly Jo wrote: "The final chapters tell the story of the political uprising, military coup and violence that is so close to Allende's own experiences in Chile. It is mostly the story of Alba and Esteban. Alba blam..."

Thanks for your synopsis of each chapter and your kind comments to the other readers. I didn't like the book very much but I enjoyed the discussion greatly.

Thank You





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