Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende was born on 2nd August 1942 in Lima, Peru. Isabel’s parents, Tomás who was government representative of Chile and Francisca Llona Barros divorced when she was only three. Isabel moved to Santiago with her mother after the divorce. In Santiago, Chile she was raised in the home of her grandparents. Her grandmother had an interest in fortune-telling and astrology. She also told other stories. All these made a lasting impression on Isabel. The house was full with books which she was allowed to read. At age 16, Allende graduated from a private high school. Three years after her graduation, she got married to her 1st husband Miguel Frías who was an engineer. While in Santiago, Allende worked in the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization as a secretary for many years. She Later became an editor, a journalist as well as an advice columnist for the Paula magazine. In addition she worked as a television interviewer and newscaster.

The assassination of her uncle, the Chilean president Salvador Allende, in 1973 during the military take-over of the Chile government, Isabel’s life greatly changed. Initially she didn’t believe that the new government would last. She, however, later discovered that her stay in Chile was too dangerous and this made her flee to Venezuela together with her husband and two children. Even though she had stabilized her successful journalist career in Chile, she found it hard to get a similar job in Venezuela. Isabel was inspired to write her first novel, The House of the Spirits in 1982. The novel was a great success as it became a best seller in West Germany an in Spain. Based on the memories of her family and political changes in her country, the novel describes the political and personal conflicts of many generations of a family that lived in a Latin American country. The novel was released as a film in the United States in 1994

Some of Isabel’s great novels include Love and Shadows released in 1987, The Infinite Plan which was released in 1993, Daughter of Fortune in 1999 and Zorro which was released in 2005. Her writing style could be described to be full of magic realism, which makes use myth and fantasy override place and time. Isabel Allende, due to urging by her grandchildren, wrote her 1st book for the young adults, City of the Beasts. It was published in 2002. In both 2003 and 2005, she released Kingdom of the Golden Dragon and Forest of the Pygmies respectively For young readers. Together with fiction, she also included her own life in her writing with many memoirs which include; Paula which was released in 1995 and My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile which was released in 2003.

Isabel certainly did a great job in the novel Love and Shadows of 1987 which has its Setting in an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, in a country that is full of arbitrary arrests, summary executions and sudden disappearances The novel is about a two people’s passionate affair and readiness to risk everything in their fight for truth and justice. Irene Beltrán who is a reporter came from a rich and wealthy family, but that could not prevent a young photographer and member of the underground movement for resistance, Francisco Leal from attracted to her beauty. Francisco was determined to overthrowing the dictating military of the nation. It didn’t matter to him that Irene’s fiancé, Gustavo Morante, nicknamed “Bridegroom of Death,” was a captain of the army. Every time Francisco accompanied Irene to an assignment for the magazine he fell for her more deeply. When they are sent to investigate about the case of Evangelina Ranquileo, a girl who is suffering from spectacular fits which is said to end in miraculous powers, the pair is caught up in an experience of violence and terror as they discover a hideous crime, a revelation which provokes and challenges the regime and places their own lives at risk. Isabel contrasts the images of overcrowded morgues as well as mass graves with South America’s landscape. She also brings bold life to the characters; Irene is a willfully ignorant, decadent kind of mother, while Francisco is an impulsive and foolhardy father; Mario is a homosexual celebrity who is fearless subversive. The novel Love and Shadows is an irresistible tale of ecstasy and tragedy as well as sacrifice and bravery; it is also a tale of state betrayal and family loyalty. The book is greatly uplifting and moving.

In her novel, The infinite plan which had its release in 1993, she writes about man who is searching for love as well as his struggle in coming in terms with childhood full of neglect and poverty. This was her first novel to have a United States setting and also to use American characters. The father of Gregory Reeves is a self-styled preacher who travels in a caravan in the American West together with his family in 1940s, preaching about “The Infinite Plan,” a divine vision that explains on life’s meaning and the universe’s nature. However, when the preacher becomes ill, his family quits its nomadic lifestyle and settles in a Hispanic barrio in Los Angeles. Gregory starts a new life in a place where Spanish speaking is the order of the day: school, books, gangs, sex, ideas as well as work. While exploring the world of barrio that is mysterious, he meets with people who are to shape his future. Pedro and Inmaculada Morales are among the people who he met that became his surrogate parents and provided him the security and love that he could not get from his family; Carmen Morales, the daughter of his surrogate parents is Gregory’s good friend for life. She grows into earthy woman and teaches him about friendship and love. Juan José Morales, who is their son and a buddy of Gregory, has an experience in Vietnam that changes the course of his own family’s as well as Gregory’s lives. He also met Cyrus, an old Communist intellectual who inspires Gregory with a social justice passion. As the story of Gregory unfolds, his survival struggle is depicted through the persecution by gangs within the barrio as well as the war horrors in Vietnam and his success. After returning from Vietnam, He becomes a San Francisco lawyer where he acquires possessions and money finds love with wrong women, abuses alcohol and parties, neglects his own children, and finally loses himself. Eventually, after a good number of false turns, he search for love and his soul leads him back to his roots and a new life.

Books in order of date of publication by series

Daughter Of Fortune Books

Daughter of Fortune(1999) 
Portrait in Sepia(2001) 

City Of The Beasts Books

City of the Beasts(2002) 
Kingdom of the Golden Dragon(2004) 
Forest of the Pygmies(2005) 

Standalone Novels

The House of the Spirits(1982) 
Of Love and Shadows(1984) 
Eva Luna(1986) 
The Infinite Plan(1993) 
Ines of My Soul(2006) 
Island Beneath the Sea(2010) 
Maya’s Notebook(2013) 
The Japanese Lover(2015) 
In the Midst of Winter(2017) 
A Long Petal of the Sea(2019) 

Short Story Collections

The Stories of Eva Luna(1989) 
Aphrodite: A Memoir of Senses(1998) 

Graphic Novel

Zorro, Volume 1(2009) 

Non-Fiction Books

Paths of Resistance: The Art and Craft of the Political Novel(1989) 
Conversations with Isabel Allende(1999) 
My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile(2003) 
The Sum of Our Days(2008) 

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