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A Long Petal of the Sea
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September 2020: Other Books > A Long Petal of the Sea - 5 stars

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message 1: by Susan (new) - added it

Susan Lewallen (susanlewallen) | 480 comments As are several of Isabel Allende’s other books, A Long Petal of the Sea is an epic, spanning decades, continents, and political upheavals. We follow numerous characters and families through the Spanish civil war into exile in Chile, through the injustices of the Pinochet regime there, exile again in Venezuela, and finally back to Chile and the demise of Pinochet. Flamboyant characters fall in and out of various sorts of love, experience dramatic births and deaths, and see their fortunes reversed multiple times — all the drama Allende does so well. Among the many people interwoven in the story, two emerge — Roser and Victor — whose lives we track through old age and the end. Roser was a goat-herding Catalan girl, rescued and educated as a pianist. Victor was a surgeon, who began his career on the battlefields in Spain. Since the book is not particularly lengthy (336 pages) there is little time devoted to the mundane aspects of their lives, nor to dialogue. I found myself wondering if some “masked observer,” not realizing she was judging an Allende book would criticize the writing for being too much “tell” rather than “show.” Indeed Allende, as an omniscient narrator, summarizes vast swaths of the lives of her characters and frequently tells us outright what is in their hearts. But, as far as I’m concerned, as a lifelong reader and lover of fiction, it works. Allende is a master story teller. I loved the book, gobbling it down, and couldn’t wait to get back to it when I had to leave to attend to the mundane in my own life. I’d like to hear from other readers who enjoy analyzing the characteristics of good fiction as to the told-not-shown balance in this (or other) Allende books. Through translations, she has enriched the literature of many languages and provided insights into her beloved native land.


Joanne (joabroda1) | 7505 comments I really love her writing and and am moving this up on my list of TBR soon. Nice review


message 3: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy | 8535 comments This is on my TBR, although I have to admit I don’t remember where


Joanne (joabroda1) | 7505 comments Amy wrote: "This is on my TBR, although I have to admit I don’t remember where"

Check the trunk -LoL


Jgrace | 2818 comments I'm listening to this one now. It's very good, but I wish I had the text. I'm on a long waiting list for that.


message 6: by Susan (new) - added it

Susan Lewallen (susanlewallen) | 480 comments Joanne wrote: "I really love her writing and and am moving this up on my list of TBR soon. Nice review"

thanks- eager to hear what others think too.


message 7: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy | 8535 comments Joanne - LOL. I think I meant the various phases of the phone TBR. Which indeed is in some phases..... Speaking of the trunk though, I have some new thoughts and stories and revelations to share for the Hoarder thread....


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5234 comments Susan wrote: "As are several of Isabel Allende’s other books, A Long Petal of the Sea is an epic, spanning decades, continents, and political upheavals. We follow numerous characters and families through the Spa..."

I have the audio CDs in my car, but I hardly ever drive. I'm actually craving a long drive, perhaps to see some trees when they start to turn.

I often don't mind the omniscient narrator in books. I like to know what goes on in people's heads. Actions do not tell the whole story, especially if the writer is not skilled in communicating nuances. Even in real life, people (and eye witnesses) often form completely different interpretations of the same behavior. (I picked up Rashomon, which demonstrates this fact so clearly, it's sometimes called the Rashomon effect.)


message 9: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7759 comments I have read several rave reviews of this one! Bumping it up my TBR.


message 10: by Susan (last edited Sep 05, 2020 08:43PM) (new) - added it

Susan Lewallen (susanlewallen) | 480 comments NancyJ wrote: "Susan wrote: "As are several of Isabel Allende’s other books, A Long Petal of the Sea is an epic, spanning decades, continents, and political upheavals. We follow numerous characters and families t..."

I'll have to look at Rashomon!


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5234 comments Susan wrote: "NancyJ wrote: "Susan wrote: "As are several of Isabel Allende’s other books, A Long Petal of the Sea is an epic, spanning decades, continents, and political upheavals. We follow numerous characters..."

I think Rashomon might also be known as In the Grove. It's in many short story collections.


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