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My Invented Country: A Memoir by Isabel…

My Invented Country: A Memoir (original 2003; edition 2004)

by Isabel Allende, Margaret Sayers Peden (Translator)

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1,182286,806 (3.59)47
Title:My Invented Country: A Memoir
Authors:Isabel Allende
Other authors:Margaret Sayers Peden (Translator)
Info:Harper Perennial (2004), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 199 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, Favorites
Tags:Nonfiction, literature, memoir, Chile

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My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey through Chile by Isabel Allende (2003)


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English (21)  Spanish (3)  Italian (1)  All (1)  German (1)  All (27)
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Two recent events have triggered this avalanche of memories. The first was a casual observation by my grandson Alejandro, who surprised me at the mirror scrutinizing the map of my wrinkles and said, with compassionate commiseration, "Don’t worry, Grandmother, you’re going to live at least three more years." I decided right then and there that the time had come to take another look at my life, in order to know how I wanted to live those three years that had been so generously granted.

By the time I got to the end of the introduction, I was already loving this book. Margaret Sayers Peden did a really good job, as the great writing shines through from the very first page.

Allende describes the character of Chile and its people, and the idiosyncrasies of her own family, through the eyes of an exile. Her family of eccentrics has provided material for her novels since the beginning, when The House of the Spirits began life as a letter to her dying grandfather and based on anecdotes he had told her about his family.

I grew up surrounded by secrets, mysteries, whispers, prohibitions, matters that must never be mentioned. I owe a debt of gratitude to the countless skeletons hidden in our armoire because they planted the seeds of literature in my life. In every story I write I try to exorcise one of them.

Luckily Alejandro was wrong in giving his grandmother 3 years to live, as this book was published over a decade ago, and according to a recent Ted talk, Isabel Allende continues to live a passionate life. ( )
  isabelx | Nov 9, 2014 |
i'm tempted to give this a higher rating, but i think that would reflect more how i felt coming in and leaving the book, and less how i felt through much of the middle. she really did start and end extremely well, though. and the rest was ok, just not great. she tells you in the beginning (really even in the title's byline) that she will be meandering through memories, and much of the book reads like a vague rambling or a mishmash of events that i wanted to be more cohesive, or more in depth. (in her defense, she not only warns that this is what the book will be, but reminds the reader about 2/3 of the way in: "But that's how nostalgia is: a slow dance in a large circle." i did love that quote, and the image it invokes of the time she spends with her memories and where it takes her.) reading this does lend a little more insight into her other books, and makes me very much want to visit the south of chile.

while i seem to not connect as much as i'd like to with much of her writing these days, i also find some of her language incomparably lovely. when talking about the spirits of her dead family, she says: "They are simply memories that come to me and that from being caressed so often gradually acquire flesh." ( )
  elisa.saphier | Nov 1, 2013 |
If i did not know better i would say that Isabel Allende was Portuguese, such is the level of relation i shared with this book.
It is a good travel on the nostalgia train, a feeling that the portuguese also carrie like a cross. ( )
  piroclasto | Oct 26, 2012 |
Vor Jahren las ich mehrere ihrer Bücher. Eine Ausstellung von Alfredo Jarr brachte mich wieder zu ihr.

After the CIA-backed military coup 11 September 1973 she had to flee Chile and never lived there again. Once asked by a reader whether her writing was a response to ‘Heimweh’ (the longing for home and her home-country) she wrote as answer this book about growing up in Chile and her feelings towards Chile.

Sie zitiert: „Sich fremd fühlen, diese Erfahruung machten fast alle Schriftsteller, selbst wenn sie sich nie aus ihrer Heimatstadt fortbewegten. Das sei eine notwendige Bedingung, denn ohne diese Unruhe empfinde man keine Notwendigkeit zu schreiben.“ (12)

It is a very personal account and very readable. Do read it if you like her books but if you don’t know her novels yet, read some of them first. (VI-12) **** ( )
  MeisterPfriem | Jul 25, 2012 |
Since Isabel Allende has spent less than half of her life (and not even the majority of her childhood) in her native country of Chile, her sense of it is created not only out of reality, but partly her imagination of her country. She is a wonderful storyteller and a fluid writer and I thoroughly enjoyed this small book. ( )
  gbelik | Nov 29, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isabel Allendeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brown, BlairNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peden, Margaret SayersTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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. . . for some reason or other, I am a sad exile.

In some way or other, our land travels with me

and with me too, though far, far away, live the

longitudinal essences of my country.

     -- Pablo Neruda, 1972
First words
Let's begin at the beginning, with Chile, that remote land that few people can locate on the map because it's as far as you can go without falling off the planet.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060545674, Paperback)

"Nostalgia is my vice," admits Isabel Allende in My Invented Country. A question about nostalgia propels an exploration of her past, including the complicated history and politics of Chile, where she spent the better part of her childhood. Despite her strong connection to Chile, Allende says she has "been an outsider nearly all my life." Her stepfather was a diplomat, so her family moved quite frequently. In her travel diary, Allende compares everything to Chile, her "one eternal reference" point.

"From saying goodbye so often my roots have dried up," she notes. She successfully reclaims them, however, through two channels. Allende relays anecdotes about what she calls her untraditional family--whom she has based some of her novels upon, including The House of the Spirits. Like a few of her novels, though, her own story is lost in heavy policy analysis. Interspersed among her ancestors' tales is an all-too-exhaustive report of Chile: the terrain, its people, customs, language, its heroes and villains, and the government.

Allende fled Chile after the military coup on September 11, 1973. Twenty-eight years later, and now living in the United States, this date haunts her when terrorists attack New York City and Washington, D.C. Allende admits that the place she is homesick for may have never existed. In spite of that, Allende asserts that she can live and write anywhere: "I don’t belong to one land, but to several, or perhaps only to the ambit of the fiction I write." The irony is that she steadfastly has "one foot in Chile and another here." --C.J. Carrillo

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:05 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"Isabel Allende's first memory of Chile is of a house she never knew. The "large old house" on the Calle Cueto, where her mother was born and which her grandfather evoked so frequently that Isabel felt as if she had lived there, became the protagonist of her first novel, The House of the Spirits. It appears again at the beginning of Allende's playful, seductively compelling memoir My Invented Country, and leads us into this gifted writer's world. Here are the almost mythic figures of a Chilean family - grandparents and great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends - with whom readers of Allende's fiction will feel immediately at home. And here, too, is an unforgettable portrait of a charming, idiosyncratic Chilean people with a violent history and an indomitable spirit. Although she claims to have been an outsider in her native land - "I never fit in anywhere, not into my family, my social class, or the religion fate bestowed on me" - Isabel Allende carries with her even today the mark of the politics, myth, and magic of her homeland. In My Invented Country, she explores the role of memory and nostalgia in shaping her life, her books, and that most intimate connection to her place of origin.""Two life-altering events inflect the peripatetic narration of this book: The military coup and violent death of her uncle, Salvador Allende Gossens, on September 11, 1973, sent her into exile and transformed her into a writer. The terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, on her newly adopted homeland, the United States, brought forth from Allende an overdue acknowledgment that she had indeed left home. My Invented Country, whose structure mimics the workings of memory itself, ranges back and forth across that distance accrued between the author's past and present lives. It speaks compellingly to immigrants, and to all of us, who try to retain a coherent inner life in a world full of contradictions."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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