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A Long Petal of the Sea (2019)

by Isabel Allende

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,2576113,120 (3.88)84
"In the late 1930s, civil war gripped Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life irreversibly intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them wants, and together are sponsored by poet Pablo Neruda to embark on the SS Winnipeg along with 2,200 other refugees in search of a new life. As unlikely partners, they embrace exile and emigrate to Chile as the rest of Europe erupts in World War. Starting over on a new continent, their trials are just beginning. Over the course of their lives, they will face test after test. But they will also find joy as they wait patiently for a day when they are exiles no more, and will find friends in the most unlikely of places. Through it all, it is that hope of being reunited with their home that keeps them going. And in the end, they will find that home might have been closer than they thought all along"--… (more)
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English (56)  Spanish (3)  German (1)  All languages (60)
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
This book opens with Roser Bruguera and Victor Dalmau living in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Roser is the widow of Victor’s brother. They marry in order to migrate to Chile. It is a historical family saga set in Spain, France, Chile, and Venezuela, spanning the 1930s to 1990s.

Allende excels at combining personal stories with the history of the time period. This book covers events such as the rise of Francisco Franco, the outbreak of WWII, and Pablo Neruda’s involvement in leading Spanish refugees to Chile. Once in Chile, it portrays the rise and fall of both Salvador Allende and Augusto Pinochet. This is familiar territory for Allende, and part of her own family’s history. She brings a masterful storyteller’s touch to bear in creating this moving story of a couple thrust together and changed by world events.
( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
This is a sprawling story that details the lengthy lifetimes of dual protagonists: Victor and Roser.
I chose this book because I was interested in finding out about Franco's Spain. This does go into some detail about what happened when Franco took over Spain and turned it into a fascist government, but it also takes place in Chile when Salvador Allende was murdered, and pinochet, the military dictator installed by the Imperial power, had a military coup, and thousands were tortured, murdered, and sent to concentration camps.
"In July 1936, the armed forces Rose against the Democratic government; the uprising was soon led by general Francisco franco, whose unremarkable appearance disguised a cold, vengeful, and brutal temperament. His most ambitious dream was to return Spain to past Imperial glories; his most pressing one was to put a stop to disorderly democracy and to govern with an iron fist with the help of the armed forces and the Catholic Church. Franco's rebels were hoping to take over the whole country within a week, but came up against unexpected resistance from the working class, organized in militias and determined to defend the rights they had won. This saw the start of a period of unleashed hatred, vengeance, and terror that was to cost Spain a million lives. The strategy of the men under Franco's command was to spill as much blood as possible and to spread terror, the only way they could destroy any hint of resistance from the conquered people."
Roser was pregnant with Victor's brother Guillem's baby, when she had to flee from Spain to protect herself and her baby. She managed to cross into france, but ended up in a concentration camp, as the French people did not want the Spanish refugees.
An old friend of Victor's, Elizabeth Eidenbenz, rescues her:
"The day after she got the message, she traveled to argeles-Sur-mer to look for Roser bruguera. Even though she knew how dreadful conditions in the camp were, she was shocked when she saw this disheveled, filthy young woman, ashen-faced and with purple lines under eyes inflamed by sand. She was so thin that her belly seem to stick out directly from her skeleton. Despite her appearance, Roser met her standing erect, with a firm voice and the dignity she had always shown. Nothing in what she said revealed anguish or resignation, as if she were in complete control of her situation."

The poet Pablo Neruda is commissioned with taking a ship to France and hand-picking refugees to bring to Chile. The trouble is, families are given priority. So, Victor proposes that he and Rosa should mary, and name only, to give them the chance to be chosen to immigrate to Chile:

Against all odds, Salvador Allende wins the election away from the right wing, in chile. But it won't last long:
"The joyous demonstrations [by Allende supporters] ended without any trouble, and the following day, when scared people rushed to the banks to withdraw their money and buy airline tickets to escape before the Soviet hordes invaded the country, they found the streets were being cleaned as normal, and no thugs were going around brandishing Garrotes and threatening decent folk. There was no great hurry after all. They calculated that it was one thing to win the most votes, and another to actually become president; there were two months left for Congress to decide, and to twist the situation in their favor.
The tension was palpable, and the plan to put a stop to Allende had already swung into action even before he took office. Over the following weeks, a plot supported by the North Americans ended with the assassination of the army commander in chief, a general who respected the Constitution and therefore had to be gotten out of the way. This crime had the opposite effect to the one intended. It led to widespread indignation and strengthened the traditional respect for the laws that most Chileans had. They were repelled by these gangster tactics; that could happen in some banana republic or other, but never in chile, where, as the newspapers insisted, disputes weren't resolved by the use of a gun. Congress ratified Salvador allende, who became the first democratically elected Marxist head of state. The idea of a peaceful resolution no longer seems so absurd."

"Like neruda, he [Victor] too was afraid for Chile. Rumors of a possible military coup that had been heard for 2 years now suddenly grew louder. The president still trusted the armed forces, even though he knew they were split. By the start of spring 1973, violence from the opposition had reached unprecedented levels, while discontent among the military had become a threat. Undermined by his officers' insubordination, the commander-in-chief resigned in late august. He explained to the president that his duty as a soldier was to step down to avoid the breakdown of military discipline. His gesture proved useless. At 5:00 in the morning on September 11th, the feared military coup took place. Within a few hours Chilean reality was turned upside down, and nothing was ever the same again."

While this is historical fiction, what takes place in Spain and Chile is real. I already knew much about chile's betrayal by the Imperial power, but I learned much about the time when fascists took over spain.

( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
This was not a bookclub book. Read on audio so some of it was hard to grasp, especially names, but it was a touching story and good history facts.
April 2020 good read during quarantine ( )
  PatLibrary123 | Aug 9, 2022 |
En plena Guerra Civil española, el joven medico Víctor Dalmau, junto a su amiga pianista Roser Bruguera, se ven obligados a abandonar Barcelona, exiliarse y cruzar los Pirineos rumbo a Francia. A bordo del Winnipeg, un navío fletado por el poeta Pablo Neruda que llevó a más de dos mil españoles rumbo a Valparaíso, embarcarán en busca de la paz y la libertad que no tuvieron en su país. Recibidos como heroes en Chile -ese "largo petalo de mar y nieve", en palabras del poeta chileno-, se integrarán en la vida social del país durante varias decadas hasta el golpe de Estado que derrocó al doctor Salvador Allende, amigo de Victor por su común afición al ajedrez. Víctor y Roser se encontrarán nuevamente desarraigados, pero como dice la autora: "si uno vive lo suficiente, todos los círculos se cierran".

Un viaje a traves de la historia del siglo XX de la mano de unos personajes inolvidables que descubrirán que en una sola vida caben muchas vidas y que, a veces, lo difícil no es huir sino volver.
  noeliacotto | Mar 14, 2022 |
BEST list - historical fiction based on a real story, incredibly moving ( )
  evans314 | Mar 5, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Allende, Isabelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ballerini, EdoardoNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Caistor, NickTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Degenaar, RikkieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hopkinson, AmandaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Liverani, ElenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mann, DavidCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prøis, SigneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Puls, WiebkeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
... vreemdelingen, dit is het,
dit is mijn vaderland,
hier ben ik geboren en hier wonen mijn dromen.


PABLO NERUDA,
'Thuiskomst',
Omzwervingen en thuiskomen
Dedication
To my brother Juan Allende
To Victor Pey Casado and other navigators of hope
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The young soldier was part of the "Baby Bottle Conscription," the boys called up when there were no more men, young or old, to fight the war.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"In the late 1930s, civil war gripped Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life irreversibly intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them wants, and together are sponsored by poet Pablo Neruda to embark on the SS Winnipeg along with 2,200 other refugees in search of a new life. As unlikely partners, they embrace exile and emigrate to Chile as the rest of Europe erupts in World War. Starting over on a new continent, their trials are just beginning. Over the course of their lives, they will face test after test. But they will also find joy as they wait patiently for a day when they are exiles no more, and will find friends in the most unlikely of places. Through it all, it is that hope of being reunited with their home that keeps them going. And in the end, they will find that home might have been closer than they thought all along"--

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