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Inés of My Soul (2006)

by Isabel Allende

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,210794,899 (3.65)140
Born into a poor family Spanish family in the sixteenth century, Ins leaves Spain for the New World to find her missing husband. There she discovers that he's been killed and soon begins a love affair with Pedro de Valdivia, a war hero and field marshall to Francisco Pizarro. Together Ins and Pedro build the new city of Santiago and wage a bloody, ruthless war against the native Chileans.… (more)

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» See also 140 mentions

English (67)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (3)  Swedish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Finnish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (79)
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Historical Fiction at its best

There are real life stories that are not celebrated enough. Such seems to be the case of the story of Inés de Suarez. In today’s society we are often looking at creating the next female hero; at times we get stories that seem more written as if the heroine was a man because authors often mistake femininity with frailty and physical prowess with strength. That’s how we get these terrible stories of 120lb femme fatales who obliterate a much bigger man in a fist fight... it doesn’t resonate with the audience.

That is not the case of Isabelle Allende’s protagonist, Inés. Here we see the perfect example of a kickass heroine, a tale that is not only believable, it is historical fact, and a female character that is not strong in spite of her gender, but whose strength comes in part due to her feminine charm.

Based on the story of the founding mother of Santiago, capital of Chile, and filled with the terrors of the Spanish conquest of the Americas and the wars it caused, the book juxtaposes injustice, violence and immortality with tenderness, love, passion and hope of a better future.

There are definitely fictional elements mixed with the truth, but being written as a letter to her daughter including her memoirs the mystical is successfully used to heighten the enjoyment of the fact without taking away from it.

I can say I have a new South American heroine in Inés de Suarez, and Isabel Allende continues being an author I enjoy reading.

10/10 ( )
  Miguel.Arvelo | Jun 9, 2020 |
this was really hard for me but got easier toward the last third or so. most of the first almost 200 pages, though, were just ... boring. there would be little parts throughout that held my interest, and always there were parts that were written really well, but to get through chunks of this, i had to skim. (and i would normally never give a book more than a star or even a half star when i skim, but this really did improve, and did have some good parts.)

it's also a tough topic - the "founding" of a nation, which is just basically the heinous overtaking of a native people by colonizers. she tells the story from the side of the conquerors, and she writes, from their perspective, as if they have every right to take the land, enslave or brutally torture and murder the population, and transform peru or chile into enclaves of spain. (the only nice thing here is to be reminded that it's not just my america that did these awful things around the world. all western civilization is stained with these terrible stories.)

while i didn't really want to read incident after incident of indigenous people having their limbs (or noses) hacked off, i think it would have been easier to read if the characterization throughout the book was better, and more comprehensive. we just don't learn all that much about the characters other than ines, and that makes it hard to care, especially when they're awful colonizers.

but the feminist perspective in the book is welcome. to have the story be told from the point of view of the only woman to be on the campaign to conquer chile is interesting. she was real, and i'm not surprised that i'd never heard of her (i mean, i hadn't heard of the men in the story, either). it seems like there isn't a lot of actual record about her, so allende uses a lot of imagination to put us there. it's not, to be, at its base an interesting story, but i'm glad to have it from ines' perspective, and to know of this pretty remarkable and unique woman in history. ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | May 26, 2020 |
Read 2017. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 7, 2020 |
This is the life story of Ines Suarez, a Spanish woman from a poor background, who became the gobernadora (the female governor) of Chile. She left Spain to find her husband in the New World although she had no love for him. Eventually she discovered that he had died in battle and she was a widow. By this time she was in Cuzco Peru and she encountered Pedro de Valdivia and the two of them fell passionately in love. Valdivia was a trusted military advisor to Franciso Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador who toppled the Incan empire. As a result of his service to Pizarro, Valdivia was a wealthy man but he dreamed of going to Chile and settling that land. Ines and Valdivia convinced Pizarro to let them make the attempt. They were accompanied by some Spanish soldiers, a priest, the pregnant Incan wife of one of the soldiers and many Yanacona Indians. This troupe crossed a barren desert and reached the site of Santiago but the Chilean Indians, the Mapuche, were not about to accept these intruders in their land. Ines was a valuable participant in the travels because of her knowledge of medicine and also her ability to dowse for water. Many years of hardship and fighting followed the settlement of Santiago. Ines and Valdivia were together for 10 years but never married since Valdivia had a wife back in Spain. After Valdivia made a trip to Peru he abandoned Ines who promptly married one of his lieutenants, Rodrigo de Quiroga, with whom she lived happily for 30 years.

That's the bare bones of the story but the details make a fascinating read. Allende had to imagine many of the details because, although Ines Suarez was a real person and did shape the history of Chile, not much is known about her. Perhaps because Allende is Chilean herself, these details ring true. Allende doesn't gloss over the grisly details of the battles with the Mapuche and some may find that off-putting. It was certainly a bloody period of history. As well as an historical story, this is also a love story. Ines was a woman who loved passionately and was loved passionately. She was also spiritual and mystical. Once you read this book I don't think you will ever forget Ines Suarez. I know I won't. ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 9, 2017 |
"You will find, señora, that these conquistadors have no shame. They arrive as beggars, they act like thieves, and then they behave as if they were lords of the world."
These conquistadors from Spain once came to my country, the Philippines, and lived like the lords of the world. The horrendous things happened to Chile were the same things happened to my country: they took advantage of our land & resources, abused our natives, ruined our culture, and imposed their religion. The Indians in their land, however, were different from our natives. Indians fought endlessly unlike the Filipinos who embraced the presence of the conquistadors. I don't know if it was because of inherent hospitality of the Filipinos or the desire to avoid of conflict. As a result, the Spaniards colonized us for more than 300 years.

Inés of My Soul is a fresh perspective to read. I usually read about being colonized because of our history, not from the eyes of the colonizers. Inés Suárez wrote about her love and adventures from Spain to Peru and Chile. Her manuscripts were for her daughter to read. These were mostly ignored by historians for centuries (I think because of her gender).
"Courage is a virtue appreciated in a male but considered a defect in our gender. Bold women are a threat to a world that is badly out of balance, in favor of men. That is why they work so hard to mistreat us and destroy us."
The autobiographical book was woven by intuition of [author:Isabel Allende|2238], meticulously crafted and researched.
"We are off to Chile, Inés of my soul. ." ( )
  phoibee | Apr 23, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
Allende peppers Inés’ bio with characteristically fragrant details emotional fire-storms, lush foliage, aphrodisiac potions, and many “blazing whirlwinds” of lovemaking that turn a truly extraordinary life story into a forgettable, easy-reading romp.
“Inés is wholly a woman of her day, and Allende does not turn away from the historical record, which has her decapitating indigenous prisoners and hurling their heads over a fortress wall to terrorize their peers as well as saving lives as a gentle-handed healer.”

“Despite its graphic violence, “Ines,” like all of Allende’s novels, drips with color and sensuality. The author spent four years researching the era, incorporating knowledge not just about the history of Chile during the subjugation of its native people by the courageous and cruel Spanish, but such vital details as the kinds of food emigrants ate on the long ocean voyage and their manner of dress.The research pays off in finely detailed scenes.”


» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isabel Allendeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Juan, AnaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Liverani, ElenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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I am Inés Suárez, a townswoman of the loyal city of Santiago de Nueva Extremadura in the kingdom of Chile, writing in the year of Our Lord 1580
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Born into a poor family in Spain, Inés, a seamstress, finds herself condemned to a life of hard work without reward or hope for the future. It is the sixteenth century, the beginning of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, and when her shiftless husband disappears to the New World, Inés uses the opportunity to search for him as an excuse to flee her stifling homeland and seek adventure. After her treacherous journey takes her to Peru, she learns that her husband has died in battle. Soon she begins a fiery love affair with a man who will change the course of her life: Pedro de Valdivia, war hero and field marshal to the famed Francisco Pizarro.

Valdivia's dream is to succeed where other Spaniards have failed: to become the conquerer of Chile. The natives of Chile are fearsome warriors, and the land is rumored to be barren of gold, but this suits Valdivia, who seeks only honor and glory. Together the lovers Inés Suárez and Pedro de Valdivia will build the new city of Santiago, and they will wage a bloody, ruthless war against the indigenous Chileans—the fierce local Indians led by the chief Michimalonko, and the even fiercer Mapuche from the south. The horrific struggle will change them forever, pulling each of them toward their separate destinies.

Inés of My Soul is a work of breathtaking scope: meticulously researched, it engagingly dramatizes the known events of Inés Suárez's life, crafting them into a novel full of the narrative brilliance and passion readers have come to expect from Isabel Allende.
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