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The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

The House of the Spirits (1982)

by Isabel Allende

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (120)  Spanish (7)  Dutch (6)  Italian (5)  German (2)  Danish (2)  French (2)  Portuguese (1)  Hebrew (1)  Catalan (1)  Lithuanian (1)  All languages (148)
Showing 1-5 of 120 (next | show all)
Allende is a wonderful writer, but this is a very "Latin" book, full of spiritualism and layers of meaning (look up the names of the characters in a Spanish/English dictionary). I was very comfortable with this device, but others in the book club were not. If we gave a collective rating it would probably be 2.75 stars. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 9, 2016 |
This is an epic tale of the trials and tribulations of the Trueba family in 20th century Chile, from the presidential era through to the Pinochet regime. This is my first Allende-book and I find her style very luscious, partly because of the descriptions and partly because of the huge scope the story. The characters are all interesting, whether you like them or not, and, although most of them are larger-than-life, I still find them believable. A lot of people have tagged this "magic realism," but those parts are really tiny, should you not be a fan; I happen to like magic realism and found myself wishing for more. The author's father was Salvador Allende's first cousin, so I was really interested in seeing how she took on his presidency and the military coup that followed, but even without the family connection, the story Allende tells is one that is inherently interesting from a historical perspective. Considering that this accomplished piece was Allende's debut novel, I can't wait to dig into more of her œuvre. ( )
  -Eva- | Jan 30, 2016 |
The writing is just so good as to make this a favorite of mine, a book I might think about reading again someday. Next time around I would like to learn more about the political scene and historical facts surrounding Allende's life and when this particular story took place. ( )
  KathyGilbert | Jan 29, 2016 |
It's been about three weeks since I finished The House of the Spirits and, while I still really liked it, I'm not as "in love" with it as I was back on December 31st. Why? I'm not sure exactly. Probably Esteban Trueba, who, no matter how hard I tried, truly disgusted me. His actions at the end, on behalf of Alba, a drop of water in the desert of his soul. Perhaps I'm being too harsh; maybe I can only see him from my modern thirty-something woman mindset. Whatever the reason, having to read from his POV, made my skin crawl.

However, what I first loved about The House of the Spirits, I still LOVE: The family saga, interwoven with magical realism (some of the most effortless I've read to date), spanning decades with their social changes and political unrest. Chile was a completely new setting to me and Allende's words have inspired me to pick up non-fiction titles on the subject. I'm also interested to read her My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile and I will definitely read more of her fiction in the months and years to come.

4 stars

One of my favorite passages really resonated with my own ideals as a parent, "Blanca argued that [Alba's] reading should be monitored because there were certain things that were inappropriate for her age, but her Uncle Jaime felt that people never read what did not interest them and that if it interested them that meant they were sufficiently mature to read it." I also loved that he referred to his niece as a person.

Side note: After I finished the book, I finally watched the 1993 film adaption. I'd been putting it off for years because I wanted to read the book first. Well, this is one of those instances where I might've liked the movie more if I hadn't already read the book. This adaptation was ... glossy, almost romantic. The characterization was sparse and much of the book's meat was cut. Basically, it was Hollywood-ized. 6/10 stars ( )
  flying_monkeys | Jan 23, 2016 |
Okay, I have to get a bit outside of my head in order to write this review. In the midst of a rather antagonistic blare and bash conga line of Neruda quotes, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges comparisons, and every factoid I've ever consumed concerning magical realism - the view of what I've just read is getting a bit murkily manic.

In Neruda's The Sea (bear with me), he opens with, "I need the sea because it teaches me." In simplicity, I believe readers need magical realism and the authors that employ it magnificently, like Allende, because they teach us.

As written in Spirits, "memory is fragile and the space of a single life is brief, passing so quickly that we never get a chance to see the relationship between events; we cannot gauge the consequences of our acts, and we believe in the fiction of past, present, and future,..." Because of my experience in reading Allende and other authors, I think magical realism often offers a looking glass that people can't always connect to as easily in other works of fiction. One that provides an external yet simultaneously introspective gauge that fleshes out our personal view of our lives and the world around us.

I felt that gauge sharpen for me while reading Spirits. I can't say I pin it on a particular character or scene. More that the rhythm of Allende's commix of heavier fabulism in the beginning and the chaos of reality in the end was able to open up a thought process within me that surpassed the identification with, judgement of, or enjoyment of characters. Just as I'm a sucker for any book that prompts further reading and/or learning, I adore those that lead to the expansion of individual thought. The great thing being that Allende's Spirits triggered such while offering a wealth of character, cultural, and political dynamic as well.

Conga line sum up: I'm left feeling inspired and intrigued and a million more words on the technicalities of magical realism or the "who're ya gonna call" list of the authors at the forefront of the genre would lead me right back to the exact same statement. On a personal level, this was a brilliant book. On a reviewer level, I recommend Allende as a writer that will make you think and experience.

“She felt that everything was made of glass, as fragile as a sigh”

( )
  lemotamant898 | Jan 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 120 (next | show all)
Primera novela de Isabel Allende, La casa de los espíritus narra la saga de una poderosa familia de terratenientes latinoamericanos. El despótico patriarca Esteban Trueba ha construido, con mano de hierro, un imperio privado que empieza a tambalearse a raíz del paso del tiempo y de un entorno social explosivo. Finalmente, la decadencia personal del patriarca arrastrará a los Trueba a una dolorosa desintegración. Atrapados en unas dramáticas relaciones familiares, los personajes de esta portentosa novela encarnan las tensiones sociales y espirituales de una época que abarca gran parte de este siglo.
added by Pakoniet | editLecturalia

» Add other authors (93 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isabel Allendeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Morino AngeloTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Piloto Di Castri, SoniaTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bogin, MagdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hitchens, ChristopherIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lappi-Seppälä, JyrkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Risvik, KjellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Николаева, СусаннаTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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How much does a man live, after all?
Does he live a thousand days, or one only?
For a week, or for several centuries?
How long does a man spend dying?
What does it mean to say "for ever"?

Pablo Neruda
To my mother, my grandmother,
and all the other extraordinary women
of this story.
First words
Barrabás came to us by sea, the child Clara wrote in her delicate calligraphy.
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Esteban hatte Chinchillas auf seinem Gut herumhuschen sehen. Gelegentlich schoß er sie ab, weil sie die junge Saat fraßen, war aber nie auf den Gedanken gekommen, daß sich diese unscheinbaren Nagetiere in Damenpelzmäntel umwandeln ließen. Jean de Satigny suchte einen Kompagnon, der das Kapital, die Arbeit und die Gehege stellte, alle Risiken übernahm und den Gewinn fünfzig zu fünfzig mit ihm teilte.
(Kapitel 6, Hardcover Seite 187)
"Fast in allen Familien ist irgendein Blöder oder Verrückter, Alba", versicherte Clara, die Augen starr auf ihr Strickzeug geheftet, weil sie in all den Jahren nicht gelernt hatte, zu stricken, ohne hinzuschauen. "Manchmal bekommt man sie nicht zu sehen, weil die Angehörigen sie verstecken, als ob es eine Schande wäre. Sie sperren sie in die hintersten Zimmer, damit Besucher sie nicht zu Gesicht bekommen. Aber in Wirklichkeit braucht man sich ihrer nicht zu schämen, auch sie sind Werke Gottes."
"Aber wir haben keinen in unserer Familie", gab Alba zu bedenken.
"Nein, bei uns ist die Verrücktheit auf alle verteilt, und es ist nicht genug übriggeblieben, daß auch wir unseren Verrückten haben."
(Kapitel 9, Hardcover S. 288 f.)
Das Land füllte sich mit Uniformen, Kriegsmaschinen, Fahnen, Hymnen und Paraden, denn die Militärs kannten das Bedürfnis des Volkes nach eigenen Symbolen und Rhythmen. Senator Trueba, der diese Dinge grundsätzlich haßte, begriff, was seine Freunde im Club meinten, wenn sie sagten, der Marxismus habe in Lateinamerika nicht die geringste Chance, weil er die magische Seite der Dinge außer acht ließe. "Brot, Zirkus und irgendwas zum Verehren, das ist alles, was sie brauchen", schloß der Senator und bedauerte im stillen, daß das Brot fehlte.
Kapitel 13, Hardcover S. 392)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553273914, Mass Market Paperback)

Here, in an astonishing debut by a gifted storyteller, is the magnificent saga of proud and passionate men and women and the turbulent times through which they suffer and triumph. They are the Truebas. And theirs is a world you will not want to leave, and one you will not forget.

Esteban -- The patriarch, a volatile and proud man whose lust for land is legendary and who is haunted by his tyrannical passion for the wife he can never completely possess.

Clara -- The matriarch, elusive and mysterious, who foretells family tragedy and shapes the fortunes of the house of the Truebas.

Blanca -- Their daughter, soft-spoken yet rebellious, whose shocking love for the son of her father's foreman fuels Esteban's everlasting contempt... even as it produces the grandchild he adores.

Alba -- The fruit of Blanca's forbidden love, a luminous bearty, a fiery and willful woman... the family's break with the past and link to the future.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:53 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The Trueba family embodies strong feelings from the beginning of the 2 through the assassination of Allende in 1973.

» see all 5 descriptions

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