Graciela, November 28, 2013 (view all comments by Graciela)
This book is the literary equivalent of Picasso's "Guernica": melancholy, visceral, and historically relevant. Set in a Latin American country (implied to be Chile), "The House of the Spirits" chronicles three generations of an affluent family whose entire existence begins to fall under threat from political reactionaries. The novel's focus, however, is primarily on the ever-growing, occasionally twisted branches of this family tree. Nearly all the named characters are described prior to the events that induce their transformations, yet Allende's poetic language makes this high volume of necessary exposition just as enjoyable as the dialogue. Despite the book's dark themes, the ending is poignantly hopeful, and the constant elements of magical realism and dry humor prevent it from being a downer. As a bonus, "The House of the Spirits" passes the Bechdel test with flying colors; in fact, only one of the four main characters is male, and all the women have distinct personalities, interests, strengths, and weaknesses. I definitely think this book is worth owning.
ladysankofa, August 5, 2012 (view all comments by ladysankofa)
The beauty of the language of this incredible novel makes me forget that it is translated from the Spanish and I wish I could read it in its original. I was spellbound by the story of this amazing, odd, lovely, and strange family right from the very start, from "Barabbas came to us by sea." That it was Allende's first novel is stunning as well. You feel as if you are there, in Chile, and that all of these people you come to know on a close, intimate basis: Rosa, Clara, Esteban and the rest. It is almost sad to get to the last page--you leave wanting more.
shitakehappens, March 7, 2007 (view all comments by shitakehappens)
This book was absolutely breath-taking! What I loved most was how the book spanned three generantions, and yet kept a steady focus on all the characters. The reader can really become attached to people they read about when they follow their lives from childhood to death. The story was scandalous, magical, sad, exciting, and completely unforgettable. This is something everyone should read atleast once in his or her life, you'll identify with the characters in no time!
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caitlinsmom, December 11, 2006 (view all comments by caitlinsmom)
This story has some of the most compelling and fascinating characters that I have come across in a novel. The epic story of the Treuba family is breathtaking, touching, and heartbreaking. The dynamics of this complex family is also fascinating. The only reason I did not give it 5 stars is because I thought the last half of the story focused too much on the political situation and struggle of the country, and I wanted to learn more about this incredible family's dynamic and how they developed. That is just a personal preference, but overall this story is beautifully written, and is a must read for all lovers of good-fiction.
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by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times,
"Extraordinary... Powerful... Sharply observant, witty and eloquent."
by The Washington Post,
"Mesmerizing... A novel of force and charm."
"That rarest of successes — a book about one family and one country that is a book about the world and becomes the world in a book."
by Jane Futcher, San Francisco Chronicle,
"Nothing short of astonishing....In The House Of The Spirits Isabelle Allende has indeed shown us the relationships between past and present, family and nation, city and country, spiritual and political values. She has done so with enormous imagination, sensitivity, and compassion."
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