The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

I’ve been avoiding reading anything by Isabel Allende for years. I’m not sure there’s an actual reason for this, it just never happened that I picked up one of her books. I’m really glad I finally did. The House of the Spirits was the first book I finished this year and I loved it.

It’s set in Chile, a country I admit I knew little about, and it revolves around various members of one rather strange family. Through the years, we follow their lives, witness them hurting or helping each other, see how their actions unwillingly affect people who come years later.

This is very much an epic novel. Each chapter focuses on a different family member and the whole book spans decades, starting from Rosa, the green-haired goddess and ending with Blanca, the young political activist. The changing country is the background for all the family drama as the main social, political and economic events of 20th century Chile irreversibly change the characters’ lives.

It is beautifully written, the descriptions for the chilean countryside are amazing. The writing is often blunt, there are a lot of unpleasant events taking place in the book and a few times I was a bit shocked and disturbed because Allende can make it clear just how devastating and violent these are. The characters are flawed, sometimes they are really hard to like, but they feel real and their actions seem to stay true to who they are.

So, I am now very keen to read more by this author and I’m a bit upset it took me so long to get to it. This book is highly recommended and I think anyone who’s been putting off reading Isabel Allende books should hurry up and do it. (Michelle, I’m looking at you)

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13 thoughts on “The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

  1. Deb @ThirtyCreative says:

    Isabel Allende is a great epic writer. Since she writes about her family, her characters evolve from one book to another. I will recommend ‘Paula’. It is a little bit depressing, but will give you a bigger picture about her family.

  2. ashlee jewel says:

    Nice review. I didn’t read it all the way through for fear of “spoilers” but I really get the impression you enjoyed Isabel Allende’s work. I recently found out about her through TED talks, where she gave an inspiring speech about ‘passion’. Really interesting woman. I can’t wait to dive into her anthology. The House of the Spirits will be my first read.

    p.s. i actually think i saw the book cover for The House of the Spirits on a bookshelf my roommates and I shared a few years ago. They were always reading great books. I never bothered to pick this one up though. Guess you and I have something in common.

  3. Sandra says:

    I love Isabel Allende’s work. I have read “Eva Luna” as well as “Island Beneath the Sea” (I recommend both!) and I am currently reading “The House of the Spirits”. I’m only 30 pages in, and I’m already sucked in.

    • bookworm says:

      I read Eva Luna last month and loved it, i think it’s my favourite of her books. Will hunt down your other recommendation. Enjoy reading The House of Spirits!

  4. Just the businessn says:

    I am still trying to work out about Rosa’s green hair. Does anyone have any theories about how this could actually have been or what it was symbolising?
    I keep feeling like I have missed something!

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