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The House of the Spirits
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The House of the Spirits > Warning: Spoilers!

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Kate Welsh (felicitydisco) | 42 comments Mod
Only enter if you've finished the book!

Laura Lawson | 12 comments It was a busy month and I had a hard time getting in to this book. Once I started it seemed like an unusually narration for me but eventually I got hooked with the hints of the future through out. Overall it is a hard read but important to read. I found the characters well written and no thread was dropped. Very well written.

Maiju | 8 comments This is the third time I read this book, the earlier times already at least ten years ago.

I can understand your trouble with Esteban Trueba, Jule. He could be such a despicable person, the way he treats women and his underlings, the way he wants to possess Clara and his materialistic attitude to life. Yet, he is more complex than that and the way that compexity is built is very hard to pinpoint.

Maybe it's that Clara, despite being temperamental and stubborn, is such a spiritualistic character, and as the name suggests, clear and pure, not giving in to his husband's power, just ignoring his tries to control her, and still having compassion for him. Clara is magic, she is ethereal and see-through, you can tell how she's going to react to things (even though Esteban Trueba can't as proven by the Barrabás incident). For all of this makes her admirable, but not very easy to identify with.

Perhaps Esteban Trueba presents the materialistic which is very much present in us, at least me.

All the times I've read this book I've been on our summer cabin and the two previous times it was a very warm August with thick warm air and scents in the air. This time even though it was May, the smells of spring are very much in the air here. I don't know if this is the reason, combined with the many descriptions of smells, but the story presents itself in my mind as strong smells and colours. You might call it the athmosphere. It has very vibrant colours which range from very bright to very dark.

I find it interesting that the woman that Esteban Trueba was madly in love with, Rose, is named after a vibrant colour, while the one he ended up with loving is Clara the Clearest.

The names in the book are really fascinating. One theory I developed that the women are named sort of from Esteban Trueba's point of view. Blanca seems to be sort of blank for him. A woman he can push to a marriage and manipulate her life and she loses the ability or desire to make decisions until the revolution forces her to it. And Alba, a pure grand-daughter, but not empty, full of bright ideas.

Does anyone else have any ideas on these? I don't know about the other names and tried to Google some of them, but I left my edition on our summer cabin and can't remember all of them. Of course Nivea, white as well, and I couldn't fit her into my Esteban Trueba theory..

I also love the way the story of a family is tied to historical events, how the story brings them close to us and how bit by bit you understand more clearly that Alba is the narrator's voice in the main text. And the way the spiritual and tangible are brought to contrast but also brought together.

I could write a whole study on the things Esteban Trueba leaves out in his writings, but I won't. But it just proves that he is telling himself a story about his life, which he believes. Like we all do.

You might have noticed already, that I really love this book and find it immensely interesting. I recommend rereading it because with the first read you just dive into the world and enjoy the story and with the second read it's easier to pace yourself and look around :) Allende is one of my favourite authors and I think all her books are worth a reread!

What especially pulls me into Allende's novels is the humour and tragicomedy of her stories as evident also in this novel. Elements appear and disappear only to rise again at unexpected times, like Nivéa's head, the jewellery Clara hid and forgot and Barrabàs's pelt. I just absolutely love the way Allende spins her stories!!!!!!!!!

I have million other things to say, but I can't remember them anymore so I'll shut up and hope someone comments :)

Shannon | 12 comments This was my first time reading this book or anything by Isabel Allende. I usually stick to older classics and children's literature, but it's always good for me to branch out once in awhile. (I guess that's the point of being in a book club!)

The whole time I was reading this, I thought about the Chaucer class I took and the concept of the unreliable narrator. That's how I saw Esteban Trueba. He reassures us over and over again that he was a good husband and a good patron, but the events of his life and the lives of those around him prove otherwise. I've always loved that concept, though, because it's so human. It's like we studied in my acting classes: just because the character says something and even believes it doesn't mean it's true; you always have to question the reality and truth behind everything.

I enjoyed reading this a lot. It got crazy real there at the end, but the book is clearly influenced by reality, even with the supernatural presences throughout. I kept trying to decide if some of the characters were based in some real people and events (like Che Guevara's revolution and Pablo Neruda's poetry). I also absolutely love that she ended with Alba's realization that to seek revenge would only carry on the cycle of hatred and it was up to her to do her part to stop it. It was also very neat that it started and ended with the same line.

Again, not the kind of book I normally seek out, but definitely one worth reading and learning from. The writing was wonderful and I loved the distinct voices of Alba and Esteban.

Lieselotte | 14 comments Just like Shannon, this was the first book by Isabel Allende I've read and now I can not wait to read more. If anyone has any for what book to get next, shoot!

About the story, I really liked the way it was written. I like it when writers don't just stick to one pov. That way you don't just characters who are either good or bad but characters who are more real and with whom you can connect better. This was especially important to understand the character Of Estaban better. I agree with Jule that he is indeed very complex and that way you don't know if you have to hate him or feel sorry for him.
I mostly felt sorry for him, I think if he was born in a different country or in a later era, he wouldn't have turned out to be so cruel. I think that after Rosa died, he lost a part of him and didn't know what to do with himself or with the rest of his life. He wanted to do the right thing but the of someone he lived so dearly changed his opinions on what's goor or what's bad. And growing up with a sickly mother and absent father who spent all their money cannot have helped. I think he just wanted the rest of his life to be completely different of his youth. But that's enough about Estaban, I want to talk more about Clara and Alba since they were my favourite characters.

I like the way Isabel Allende writes her female characters. It's different then the way women are often portrayed in books. We either have to be very girlish girls who can only be happy when they have found their "one true love". Or they have to be the heroes who always have to save the day with their badassness and their underdog position, also love triangle is more often than not a big part of their story. It's not that I don't like characters like Katniss or your typical chick flik girl, on the contrary, I really like them. It's just that they aren't as relatable as Clara and Alba. The way Clara leads her life and the decisions she makes, make her just as brave as Katniss or Hermione in my opinion. She stays with her husband despite all his flaws (I would have left him a long time ago) but still she onows how to protect herself and her children from his abuse. She knows he won't kill them and that he will make their life much easier in a financial point of view. She always stays herself and keeps het own opinions even though those aren't the ones society thinks are proper. This goes for Alba as well, she believes in the principles she stands for and is willing to fight for them. Her goal in life is to help other people. She risks her own life by trying to save people she doesn't know who cann't give her anything in return. These two people are probably the reaon why I loved this book so much and I actually can not wait to read this book again and discover some extra things about the characters.

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