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Portrait in Sepiaby Isabel Allende
Synopses & Reviews
"Each of us chooses the tone for telling his or her own story; I would like to choose the durable clarity of a platinum print, but nothing in my destiny possesses that luminosity. I live among diffuse shadings, veiled mysteries, uncertainties; the tone for telling my life is closer to that of a portrait in sepia," explains Aurora del Valle, narrator of Isabel Allende's sequel to her bestselling Daughter of Fortune. Portrait in Sepia sees Allende in brilliant form. Her lush language and her juxtaposition of love and loss with the turbulent Chilean landscape will have Allende fans recalling The House of the Spirits, the mesmerizing debut novel in which the del Valle family is first introduced. Portrait traces Aurora's life and her battle with the nightmares she has experienced since childhood. Only after her husband's brutal betrayal does Aurora set out to discover the reasons for her nightmares, and in doing so unravels dark family secrets and painful self-realizations. Allende masterfully applies an epic scale to her intricate narrative and intense emotional characterizations. Portrait in Sepia seduces, beguiles and leaves readers panting for more. Veronica, Powells.com
Internationally celebrated novelist Isabel Allende has written a magnificent historical novel set at the end of the nineteenth century in Chile — a marvelous family saga that takes up and continues the story begun in her highly acclaimed Daughter of Fortune.
Recounted in the voice of a young woman in search of her roots, Portrait in Sepia is a novel about memory and family secrets. Aurora del Valle suffers a brutal trauma that shapes her character and erases from her mind all recollection of the first five years of her life. Raised by her ambitious grandmother, the regal and commanding Paulina del Valle, Aurora grows up in a privileged environment, free of the limitations that circumscribe the lives of women at that time, but tormented by horrible nightmares. When she is forced to recognize her betrayal at the hands of the man she loves, and to cope with the resulting solitude, she decides to explore the mystery of her past.
Portrait in Sepia is an extraordinary achievement: richly detailed, epic in scope, intimate in its probing of human character, and thrilling in the way it illuminates the complexity of family ties.
"Portrait in Sepia is the best book Allende has published in the United States since her splendid first novel of nearly two decades ago, The House of the Spirits. Like much of her previous work, it can be called a romance, and perhaps will be welcomed by her many loyal readers as precisely that, but if it is a romance it is also tough-minded, uncompromising and not a little bloody....Portrait in Sepia is both an intimate examination of the inner lives of a woman and her family and a large canvas across which many people parade and on which momentous events are played out. Its romantic elements — which are to be found in its language as well as its sentiments — are counterbalanced by its shrewd, uncompromising view of those people and events." Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World
"Rich and complex....Allende exercises her supreme storytelling abilities....Allende attacks her subject with gusto, making this a grand installment in an already impressive repertoire." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"This is a sequel to the author's best-selling and critically applauded Daughter of Fortune, but it falls a little short of attaining that novel's artistry and accessibility. But no book by Allende is anything less than enjoyable....Although the plot is not as compelling as in the previous novel, Portrait in Sepia is still an atmospheric, character-rich historical yarn." Booklist
"Much woe follows the birth of little Aurora, including the death of her mother and her mysterious kidnapping when she is only a few years old, and plenty of intrigue awaits her in Chile. The result is a polished, charming, if somewhat soap operaish tale that will please Allende fans." Library Journal
the mystery of memory