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The House of the Spirits (1982)

by Isabel Allende

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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12,140209377 (4.08)538
"The unforgettable first novel that established Isabel Allende as one of the world's most gifted and imaginative storytellers. The House of the Spirits brings to life the triumphs and tragedies of three generations of the Trueba family. The patriarch Esteban is a volatile, proud man whose voracious pursuit of political power is tempered only by his love for his delicate wife, Clara, a woman with a mystical connection to the spirit world. When their daughter Blanca embarks on a forbidden love affair in defiance of her implacable father, the result is an unexpected gift to Esteban: his adored granddaughter Alba, a beautiful and strong-willed child who will lead her family and her country into a revolutionary future. One of the most important novels of the twentieth century, The House of the Spirits is an enthralling epic that spans decades and lives, weaving the personal and the political into a universal story of love, magic, and fate"--… (more)
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» See also 538 mentions

English (162)  Spanish (19)  Italian (9)  Dutch (6)  French (3)  German (2)  Danish (2)  Lithuanian (1)  Portuguese (1)  Catalan (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Swedish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (209)
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
I feel torn by this book--there were times when it felt maddening to read when perceived lulls seemed to drag longer than I cared, but I was also captivated at times by the enchantment and, at the end, the gripping finale. At times I felt that it was great at exploring feminist themes, and others I was furious that Esteban Trueba was pretty much the only character given a voice. But the book did send me down a rabbit hole researching the coup of 1973 and filling in the gaps of Chile's history (and South America as well), and I'm sure there will be parts of the book that stick with me for a long time to come. ( )
  LibroLindsay | Jun 18, 2021 |
"She did not believe that the world was a vale of tears but rather a joke that God played and that it was idiotic to take it seriously."

Set in an unnamed country (but almost certainly Chile)'The House of the Spirits' follows three generations of the Trueba family. The book opens with the story of the del Valles and their young daughters, Rosa and Clara. Rosa is extremely beautiful whereas Clara is unusual in that she has a talent for clairvoyance and the ability to play the piano without lifting its lid. One day Clara predicts the death of Rosa who at the time is the fiancée of Esteban Trueba, the central male character.

At the time Esteban was away mining for gold in a remote part of the country in the hope of making a quick fortune so that he can marry Rosa. But after Rosa's sudden demise he decides to give up this get rich quick scheme and return to his long neglected ancestral estate, Tres Marias. There Estaban establishes himself as patron and his capacity for brutality and cruelty are brought into sharp focus but through sheer determination and hard work he turns Tres Marias's fortunes around making himself wealthy in the process.

After a number of years away Estaban asks her family for Clara's hand in marriage (as she had foreseen). It is here that the story really begins to kick into gear as a number of parallel story lines are introduced, most notably after the birth of Esteban and Clara’s three children, a daughter Blanca, twin sons Jaime and Nicolas and our third Trueba generation – Blanca’s daughter, Alba.

In what is essentially the second part of the novel, the family relocate back to the city where Esteban decides to become involved in politics becoming a Senator and an outspoken enemy of Socialist and Communist ideals whilst Alba embarks simultaneously on a love affair with a revolutionary.

The climax of the novel sees the country undergoing a military coup compelling Esteban to question the principles of class superiority and self-interest that have motivated his actions thus far in the process realising that it is impossible to escape the demons that we create.

This is an epic family saga that details not only the lives of the three generations of one family, but also the history of a nation providing a social narrative from a personal perspective exploring the themes of class-conflict and the cycle of violence.

I am a real fan of historical based novels but the fact that Allende leaves key places and figures anonymous means that anyone can appreciate the book without having to know its historical background. But to give it some context, Isabel Allende is the granddaughter of Salvador Allende, the socialist president of Chile deposed by a military coup. Therefore ‘The House of the Spirits’ is fundamentally a political novel. But it is not political in the sense that it supports one particular side over another but instead looks at what social conflict can do to a country – where a break-down of understanding between people can lead a state where common humanity is forgotten.

I must admit to approaching this book with some trepidation beforehand but thankfully,despite its title, this novel keeps its magical realism element of it down to a manageable level. Instead we get to invest in the Trueba family, to feel their despair and grief but also get to laugh along with them. This is a complex story that the reader has to invest in to but it is also a beautiful piece of writing and one that I will certainly remember. ( )
  PilgrimJess | May 15, 2021 |
Undoubtedly a classic, ambitious work of Latin American magical realism. But I found it hard to love the primary characters, preferring glimpses of secondary ones. The Truebas either infuriated me (Esteban’s raw nerve machismo) or bored me (Clara, Blanca, the twins all literally just stop talking when faced with adversity); none were great at maintaining a consistent narrative backbone. The final quarter of the book starts to get politically interesting but it came too late. ( )
  jiyoungh | May 3, 2021 |
Deciding that this genre isn't really my thing. ( )
  KittyCunningham | Apr 26, 2021 |
3.9 stars. Doesn't get 4 stars because the one character was such an awful person.
Sometimes I'm petty like that. ( )
  curious_squid | Apr 5, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 162 (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 (78 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isabel Allendeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Morino AngeloTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Piloto Di Castri, SoniaTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bogin, MagdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Botond, AnnelieseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hitchens, ChristopherIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juan, AnaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lappi-Seppälä, JyrkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nikolov, VentseslavTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Otter, SaskiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Risvik, KjellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thompson, MichelleCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Николаева, СусаннаTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"The unforgettable first novel that established Isabel Allende as one of the world's most gifted and imaginative storytellers. The House of the Spirits brings to life the triumphs and tragedies of three generations of the Trueba family. The patriarch Esteban is a volatile, proud man whose voracious pursuit of political power is tempered only by his love for his delicate wife, Clara, a woman with a mystical connection to the spirit world. When their daughter Blanca embarks on a forbidden love affair in defiance of her implacable father, the result is an unexpected gift to Esteban: his adored granddaughter Alba, a beautiful and strong-willed child who will lead her family and her country into a revolutionary future. One of the most important novels of the twentieth century, The House of the Spirits is an enthralling epic that spans decades and lives, weaving the personal and the political into a universal story of love, magic, and fate"--

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