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Ines of My Soul by Isabel Allende
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Ines of My Soul (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Isabel Allende

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1,724644,107 (3.63)112
Member:margaretmontet
Title:Ines of My Soul
Authors:Isabel Allende
Info:HarperCollins (2006), Unknown Binding
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:historical fiction, Chile, Spain, Inez Suarez, Latin American literature

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Inés of My Soul by Isabel Allende (2006)

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English (54)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (64)
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At the end of her chaotic, adventurous life, Inés Suárez writes her memoirs for her adopted daughter, Isabel. There is much to tell. As a young girl in Spain, Inés falls for a handsome rake named Juan who soon leaves her to make his fortune in the New World. Not one to sit around pining for a man for the rest of her life, Inés follows him across the seas to Peru. When she arrives, she learns she is a widow; her husband was killed in battle. Inés quickly establishes herself as a seamstress and empanada-maker, and before long she has found a new love: Pedro de Valdivia, a well-respected soldier who wishes to leave his mark on history. Together, they embark on a great adventure: to conquer the lands south of Peru and found the kingdom of Chile.

Inés de Suárez was a real woman who lived a daring and fascinating life. (I wish there was an English biography of her available – but if there is one to be had for a reasonable sum, I’ve yet to find it.) Certainly, she was not afraid of defying convention. She came to the Americas to track down her missing husband, and stayed on after learning of his death. She lived openly as the mistress of Pedro de Valdivia, and – if stories are to be believed – during a battle in Santiago she decapitated seven caciques (Indian leaders) and threw their heads out into the Indian armies, scattering them and saving the Spanish settlement.

(One sentence review: I loved it, but I recognize the problems with the text and can understand why others might not care for this novel.)

Allende’s Inés is a woman of her time. Born in the sixteenth century, Inés believes in the superiority of Christianity and Spain. Although more open to the views of the indigenous people than many of her counterparts, she does think of them as savages in need of Christian taming. She fully supports the idea of colonization and the conquering of Chile, not just because it brings her wealth but because she sees it as right and proper. For these reasons, she might seem distasteful to a modern audience, which is more sympathetic to the indigenous perspective – but you can’t impose modern values on a character living hundreds of years ago. As it is, I think Allende did an admirable job of making Inés relatable and interesting to a twenty-first century audience without compromising the historic woman’s world view.

That said, some readers won’t be able to look past the romanticized conquistadors and the horrible, brutal tortures they inflict upon natives. This is a gruesome narrative full of bloodshed, revenge, and cruelty. It’s to be expected in a novel about the subjugation of the natives of the New World, but that doesn’t make it any easier to read.

But for those with strong stomachs and a taste for dramatic historical fiction, Inés of My Soul is a thrilling novel full of adventure, romance, betrayal and battle. It is truly an epic tale centering on a strong, passionate woman – definitely worth reading! ( )
  makaiju | Mar 21, 2014 |
Not sure if this book was really interesting or not. The narrator did not capture my attention too much while listening. I find most historical fiction very interesting. It could be that this particular history was not of interest to me.

Ines of My Soul is a work of fiction on Ines Suarez. I found some of the story interesting and that I did chuckle at some things. I am not familiar with Ines Suarez which is why the story didn't capture my attention. ( )
  crazy4reading | Feb 18, 2014 |
pretty good historical fiction about the conquest of chile; there's no doubt that allende writes with a lot of skill. i gave this 2 stars primarily because it's not my thing and because i started to find the battles redundant. also, i felt that she could've done a better job bringing the reader back in time. ( )
  julierh | Apr 7, 2013 |
Very interesting! ( )
  Condorena | Apr 2, 2013 |
3.5 Stars

This is my second book by Allende, and I can understand why people love her writing so much. She is a beautiful storyteller and her writing is so evocative and lovely and honest without being flowery or overdone. I love that quality in a writer - it's one of my favorite things about Colleen McCullough as well, especially in Tim. That book was my introduction to McCullough and it made a deep impression on me and instantly became one of my favorite books. Crap. Now I want to read it again!

Anyway, I was talking about Allende. The first book I read of hers was [b:The House of the Spirits|9328|The House of the Spirits|Isabel Allende|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1165941575s/9328.jpg|3374404], and I really enjoyed it a lot more than I thought that I would. You see, I don't really care for magical realism and generally steered clear of it whenever I could. I'm gradually coming to the conclusion that, like anything else, there's good and bad magical realism, and I'd only read astoundingly bad examples of it... or read good examples of it and didn't recognize them as MR. But it took Allende and my friend Jackie recommending her books for me to see it.

Allende's books are beautifully written, and whatever mystical or magical or ethereal otherworldliness there might be is subtle and adds a little "Did you see that?" nudge in the ribs, but doesn't overtake the story, doesn't throw the narrative into confusion like some magical realism books I've read and hated with the fires of a thousand suns. I'm not going to name titles. You know who you are. >_>

Beloved.

So, this was another Jackie choice, and again I really enjoyed it, although I feel that this one lost something in the audio version. I wish that I had read this rather than listening to it. *sigh* Blair Brown did a passable Spanish accent, but quite often it was distracting. It just seemed to lack a fluidity and smoothness that native speakers have. Quite often, she'd hesitate for just a moment before pronouncing a word. It might actually only be a half second, but to me, it was a distraction. This is the kind of story that you need and want to just climb into and live for a while - and every one of those stutters pulled me out of it. I may not pronounce the Spanish correctly in my head, but reading for myself would have been smoother, since I probably wouldn't know it was wrong.

The second reason that I wish I'd have just read the book myself was that there were a whole lot of Spanish names in this one. People names, place names, historical names and Chilean native tribe names, and honestly, it was really hard to keep track of who was who when I had no visual link to the sound of the words being spoken. It didn't help much that, being told as a memoir type story, the narrative was less than linear. Wikipedia helped a lot here, and Google for being a good guesser at what I was misspelling. For instance, I'd type "Atawapa" and it would return "Did you mean Atahualpa?" Yes. Yes I did. THANK YOU GOOGLE! (And before any of you break out the ladder to get on your high horse, it's been a while since World History class, OK?) So anyway, Wikipedia helped a lot to keep the names and places and tribes and so on straight, so that I could enjoy the story and actually know who was being referred to.

I found this story fascinating. I don't really know much about Chilean history, but I feel like I know quite a bit more now. Because I was on Wikipedia and Google so much, I feel like I actually may have learned something.

This was a story about Spanish conquests and it was appropriately brutal. There were massacres and tortures and mutilations and subjugation of the indigenous people. All of that was to be expected. But there was also a softer quality to this story, a kind of empathy and understanding that Ines lent it. She claimed to not understand the 'indians' of Chile, but her description of them, and their customs and ceremonies and beliefs said otherwise. I thought several times while listening to this that she was confusing understanding with agreement. I think she understood them just fine. They wanted to live and be free and content in their lives just as she wanted to live and be free and content in her own. She could have said to the Mapuches "We're not so different, you and I." Too bad she wouldn't have gotten the Austin Powers reference. *sigh*

I really appreciated the religious aspect of the story, both from the Catholic standpoint and the Native standpoint. Allende represented both fairly, I think. Although, it seemed that there was a bit of the mystical on the side of the Christians, at least in Ines's eyes. I love that there was a little bit of that here, but also that it's interpretable. Was it a miracle that broke the rope and saved the man from hanging, or was it simply that the rope was frayed or weak? A comet, or a sign?

One thing I particularly loved regarding the religious aspect of the story was Ines, at 70, talking about how she sometimes forgets and calls God "Ngenechen", which is the Mapuche's name for their god or sometimes prays to the Earth Mother rather than the Virgin. It's such a throwaway reference, an old woman confused and mixing things up, but to me it signifies how similar beliefs can be, and how silly it is to try to force a "right" religion on someone else. What's in a name? Isn't what you believe and how you live and act more important? I think so, and I think that Ines did too. She worked for her people all her life, striving to make sure that they were as well looked after as it was in her power to do. She founded churches and hospitals and helped feed the poor and hungry, and defended the defenseless. She was definitely an awesome, if underappreciated, person.

I enjoyed this one, and might just have to read it for myself one day. I think it is a book that definitely deserves my full attention, and I couldn't give it that with the audio. But regardless, this was very good, and I'd definitely recommend it. ( )
  TheBecks | Apr 1, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (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.”



 
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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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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061161543, Paperback)

In the early years of the conquest of the Americas, Inés Suárez, a seamstress condemned to a life of toil, flees Spain to seek adventure in the New World. As Inés makes her way to Chile, she begins a fiery romance with Pedro de Valdivia, war hero and field marshal to the famed Francisco Pizarro. Together the lovers will build the new city of Santiago, and they will wage war against the indigenous Chileans—a bloody struggle that will change Inés and Valdivia forever, inexorably pulling each of them toward separate destinies.

Inés of My Soul is a work of breathtaking scope that masterfully dramatizes the known events of Inés Suárez's life, crafting them into a novel rich with the narrative brilliance and passion readers have come to expect from Isabel Allende.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:51 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

A work of historical fiction chronicles the brave deeds and passionate loves of a spirited woman who journeyed to the New World and helped found a nation.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 13 descriptions

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