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Paula by Isabel Allende
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Paula (1994)

by Isabel Allende

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 89 mentions

English (40)  Spanish (9)  Dutch (6)  Italian (3)  Catalan (3)  German (2)  Norwegian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (65)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Sometimes you read a book and sometimes a book moves through you, like a spirit or a song. The letters and punctuation holding together the emotion fade and you tumble all the way through to the last page. I don’t borrow books, usually. In the reading lock-step developed through my father, I hold fast to the excuse that I have too many books to read but thank you very much. At my last book club meeting, my friend offered a book to me and my normal stronghold did not put up a fight but to be fair, I did sheepishly state that I may not read it for awhile. I really believe this book was delivered to me through providence. I read the very first line while our book club bustled about cleaning up from our meeting, “Listen, Paula. I am going to tell you a story, so that when you wake up you will not feel so lost.”

I think what she meant was me. I will not feel so lost.

This book was written by Isabel Allende for her comatose daughter, Paula. She wrote at her bedside, hoping that one day she will wake and know her story, her history, and her family. Allende’s passionate and spiritual writing brought me to my knees. The love for her daughter all twisted up with her NEED to write conceived a book like none other I have ever, ever read.

Being a mother and a writer myself, I discovered dark corners of my own fears and I sunk down to the deepest depths of my love for my children. I could feel, feel all of it with every single word that Isabel scribbled for her dying daughter. The emotional toll her writing took on my spirit and body is seemingly too much and may even sound like a bunch of bullshit, but it isn’t to me. I remember reading The Neverending Story for the first time (I think I was 16) and knowing that this story and all my stories and all the stories I collect are mine and are real, like Anansi; I gather and spin and create.

In one passage, Allende makes this connection:

“The joyful process of engendering a child, the patience of gestation, the fortitude to bring it into life, and the feeling of profound amazement with which everything culminates can be compared only to creating a book. Children, like books, are voyages into one’s inner self, during which body, mind, and soul shift course and turn toward the very center of existence.”

Allende always (and never wavers on this) begins her novels on January 8th and keeps a volume of Neruda’s poetry beneath her computer for divine inspiration. She waits and holds space for her characters to come to her and tell her their stories.
I’ve lit candles for these spirits and I know they are there. I’ve never discovered another author to reveal so intimately her creative process.

“...but it is also possible that stories are creatures with their own lives and that they exist in the shadows of some mysterious dimension, in that case, it will be a question of opening so they may enter, sink into me, and grow until they are ready to emerge transformed into language.”

I’ve been afraid of this opening. I have sequestered my creation with little spirals of hope and tenacity to bite into these moments but then they disappear and once again, I am the observer, the note-taker, fact-keeper.


My resolution this year is to break open. Wide open and fearless. I couldn’t have asked for a better time for Allende’s heartbreakingly beautiful book to come into my hands and heart. ( )
  ambersnowpants | Aug 23, 2018 |
Full review at TheBibliophage.com

In her wide-ranging memoir, Isabel Allende tells the story of a conversation she had with famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. As they talked, he said to her, “My dear child, you must be the worst journalist in the country. You are incapable of being objective, you place yourself at the center of everything you do, I suspect you’re not beyond fibbing, and when you don’t have news, you invent it. Why don’t you write novels instead? In literature, those defects are virtues.” Exactly so.

As Allende tells her story, it’s both memoir and the history of her family. Next, layer on top some Chilean and Latin American history, and you get the picture. ( )
  TheBibliophage | Mar 20, 2018 |
Part family lores, part Chilean political history, and part feminist tract, this book is an achingly beautiful love letter from Allende to her comatose daughter. Reading it is an almost unbearably intimate experience but never exploitative despite its genesis. Allende's raw grief is bared here, all in her trademark rich and vivid prose, so charged with passion. A testament to all the differently loves one is capable of, loving as a citizen, a lover, and a mother, this book is for all mothers and readers of The House of Spirits. ( )
  kitzyl | Feb 12, 2017 |
Heartbreaking, yes, but spell binding and uplifting. Worth the read. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
excellent — Biog (hers) written while daughter is in coma + dies
later: anything by her good — gives a South American mystical way of looking at life — that gives them faith — a way of destiny has control what comes to pass — really enjoy her writing

When Isabel Allende's daughter, Paula, became gravely ill and fell into a coma, the author began to write the story of her family for her unconscious child. In the telling, bizarre ancestors appear before our eyes; we hear both delightful and bitter childhood memories, amazing anecdotes of youthful years, and the most intimate secrets passed along in whispers.
  christinejoseph | Feb 27, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isabel Allendeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Boon, AdriTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guadalupi, GianniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juan, AnaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peden, Margaret SayersTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
We did not come to remain whole.
We came to lose our leaves like the trees,
The trees that are broken
And start again, drawing up from the great roots.
— Robert Bly
Dedication
First words
Listen, Paula, I am going to tell you a story, so that when you wake up you will not feel so lost.
Quotations
In December 1991 my daughter, Paula, fell gravely ill and soon thereafter sank into a coma. These pages were written during the interminable hours spent in the corridors of a Madrid hospital and in the hotel room where I lived for several months, as well as beside her bed in our home in California during summer and fall of 1992.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060927216, Paperback)

"Listen, Paula. I am going to tell you a story so that when you wake up you will not feel so lost." So says Chilean writer Isabel Allende (The House of the Spirits) in the opening lines of the luminous, heart-rending memoir she wrote while her 28-year-old daughter Paula lay in a coma. In its pages, she ushers an assortment of outrageous relatives into the light: her stepfather, an amiable liar and tireless debater; grandmother Meme, blessed with second sight; and delinquent uncles who exultantly torment Allende and her brothers. Irony and marvelous flights of fantasy mix with the icy reality of Paula's deathly illness as Allende sketches childhood scenes in Chile and Lebanon; her uncle Salvatore Allende's reign and ruin as Chilean president; her struggles to shake off or find love; and her metamorphosis into a writer.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:33 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

The autobiography of Isabel Allende written for her daughter, Paula, who has slipped into a coma.

» see all 7 descriptions

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