Wednesday, June 22, 2011

# 33 Portrait In Sepia by Isabel Allende

I read so much Isabel Allende when I was younger, it's not even funny. I was drawn, I guess to her strong female characters who endured so much but still held strong and never lost their capacity to love. Her stories are long family sagas, with eccentric and truly memorable characters.

This book is no different. Narrated by Aurora del Valle, it tells not only of her life but that of her parents and her grandparents. The bastard daughter of the Matias de Santa Cruz y del Valle, she spent the first five years of her life with her maternal grandparents Eliza Sommers and Tao Chi'en, since her mother, the most beautiful girl in Dan Francisco died giving birth to her.

When she is 5 years old, Eliza hands her over to her paternal grandmother, Paulina del Valle, who takes her in an introduces her to a whole different life. They then transfer to Chile, where she grows up and matures.

The book tells Aurora's story with the backdrop of war (apparently, the Pacific War and the Chilean Civil War). I know nothing about those wars and very little about Chile, to be honest, and it was fun to learn a little bit about the country, which, like most Latin American countries, seems remarkably similar to my little Pacific archipelago.

I liked the books for its typical Allende-ness, the crazy and sometimes implausible characters, the rambling way a big story is told. Really, just like listening to old family stories. What I didn't like was the lead character. I mean, i didn't DISLIKE her, she just seemed a little bland and I don't know, boring for and Allende character. And not as strong as her other women. I just couldn't get into her.

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