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The House of the Spirits
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1001 book reviews > The House of the Spirits - Allende

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Kristel (kristelh) | 3803 comments Mod
Read 2015
This was another wonderful book by Allende. While it is magical realism it is easy to read. The story of Chile and family saga that takes place from the beginning of the 20th century covering over seventy years. This story really is autobiographical. The story came from the authors writing to her grandfather as he was approaching death and she was unable to go see him. I knew very little about Chile until I read this book and I did not know that Allende is actually remotely related to the former dictator Allende.
Two Quotes about death that capture dying.
"She began to take leave even of the light, to enter slowly into darkness."
"Just as when we come into the world, when we die we are afraid of the unknown. But the fear is something from within us that has nothing to do with reality. Dying is like being born: just a change."
Great storytelling! I recommend it.


Diane Zwang | 1189 comments Mod
5 stars for me. Read in 2015

House of the Spirits centers around the three generations of the Trueba family. The patriarch Esteban is quite the colorful character; we love him, hate him, he does despicable things. “He was fanatical, violent, and antiquated, but he represented better than anybody else the values of family, tradition, private property, law and order.” Much of the story takes place at the Hacienda called Tres Marias. “Land is all you have left when everything else falls apart.” Certain members of the family have magical tendencies and I enjoyed this part of the book. Sometimes the most bizarre thing happening in a room can also be the most clear. It was interesting to read the changes in politics that took place over time. “Senator Trueba, who despised these things on principle, realized what his friends at the club had meant when they had assured him that Marxism did not stand a chance in Latin America because it did not allow for the magical side of things.”

This book was a win, win, win for me. A new Latin American author that I like, magical realism in which I am becoming a fan and a good family saga. I look forward to more of this author's writing.


Gail (gailifer) | 1189 comments I agree that The House of the Spirits is a remarkable book. It starts out too firmly settled into magical realism for me but slowly evolved into a story about family and the pressures and impact on family from cultural and political change outside the home. I enjoyed the parallel lives of the well to do Trueba family and that of overworked and underpaid foreman's family at Tres Marias, the hacienda. The depiction of the women, all different, all slightly mad or magical, and yet containing enough aspects of a realistic nature that I could understand them, was particularly well done. Esteban Trueba is an ugly old soul but as he aches for love, I ached to have him see the light.
The whole saga is a narration looking back in time, and so there is very little dialogue. Again, at first I missed the dialogue but after awhile, I didn't even notice.
I also learned a great deal about Chile as I had to look up who the Candidate was, the President, the Poet....and in that way I came to have a better understanding about not only the politics of Chile but the way that politics can get out of control when there are wide divisions in the financial conditions of the electorate which points to our own time.


Amanda Dawn | 894 comments Read this one for TBR this month and I agree with the other reviewers that it was a great book. I gave it 4 stars.

The elements of magical realism worked fantastically here, as did the intergenerational story in creating an epic and high stakes tableau of Chilean history and struggles.

Clara was my overall favorite character, and her kind of resigned "fate just happens" mysticism and maternal kindness works as a great contrast to Esteban's violence stepped machismo entitlement.


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