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Paula by Isabel Allende
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Paula (1995)

by Isabel Allende

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (40)  Dutch (6)  Spanish (6)  Italian (3)  Catalan (2)  German (2)  Norwegian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (61)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Heartbreaking, yes, but spell binding and uplifting. Worth the read. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
excellent — Biog (hers) written while daughter is in coma + dies

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 |
Fecha de lectura aproximada. Sólo recuerdo el mes y el año, no el día. ( )
  MisaBookworm | Feb 2, 2016 |
Didn't care for this novel as much as Allende's House of the Spirits and Eva Luna. ( )
  KathyGilbert | Jan 29, 2016 |
When Isabel Allende’s daughter became gravely ill and fell into a coma, the author spent days at Paula’s bedside. At her own mother’s urging, Allende began to write the story of her family for Paula in an attempt to connect her child with her ancestors, “…so that when you wake up you will not feel so lost.”

Evocative, heart-rending, luminous, suspenseful, triumphant – I cannot think of enough adjectives to describe this beautifully written memoir. Allende lays her soul bare on the page. She brings her own grandparents, uncles, cousins, parents, brothers, friends to life as she attempts to reach the comatose Paula. Her family connections are full of world-famous people – not the least of which was her uncle Salvador Allende – and she had a rather privileged upbringing. She travelled extensively with her mother and stepfather, who was a diplomat and attended private schools. But all her advantages could not protect Allende from life’s setbacks and tragedies.

With unfailing honesty she relates everything – from being sexually molested as a child to being a television star, from a sheltered young woman to a feminist and political exile, from a traditional wife and mother to a reckless love affair with an Argentinian trumpeter. She also includes many examples of her deep connections to the mystical and spiritual; it’s easy to see why she writes magical realism so well.

The work moves back and forth from Allende’s history to the events in Paula’s hospital room. Those scenes at her daughter’s bedside were some of the most emotional. The fierceness with which Allende fought to bring her precious child back from the abyss, the refusal to take “No” for an answer, the determination to bring her daughter back to California and her home overlooking San Francisco Bay – these passages in the book reveal the woman today, while the scenes relating her history show how she came to be this strong woman.

It took me a while to get into the book. The writing is very dense; a paragraph can last three pages. But once I got used to the rhythm of her writing I was totally immersed and engaged. Allende’s gift for storytelling is evident. There were passages that evoked laughter, sections where I recognized my own relationships with my brothers or grandparents, and scenes that had me in tears or gasping aloud. Towards the end of the book she writes this:
I try to remember who I was once but I find only disguises, masks, projections, the confused images of a woman I can’t recognize. Am I the feminist I thought I was, or the frivolous girl who appeared on television wearing nothing but ostrich feathers? The obsessive mother, the unfaithful wife, the fearless adventurer, or the cowardly woman? Am I the person who helped political fugitives find asylum or the one who ran away because she couldn’t handle fear?
The answer, of course, is that she is all these women. Her experiences may be unique, but her reactions are universal.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isabel Allendeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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)

Paula is a soul-baring memoir, which, like a novel of suspense, one reads without drawing a breath. The point of departure for these moving pages is a tragic personal experience. In December 1991, Isabel Allende's daughter, Paula, became gravely ill and shortly thereafter fell into a coma. During months in the hospital, the author began to write the story of her family for her unconscious daughter. In the telling, bizarre ancestors appear before our eyes; we hear both delightful and bitter childhood memories, amazing anecdotes of youthful years, the most intimate secrets passed along in whispers. Chile, Allende's native land, comes alive as well, with the turbulent history of the military coup of 1973, the ensuing dictatorship, and her family's years of exile. As an exorcism of death, in these pages Isabel Allende explores the past and questions the gods.… (more)

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