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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 (126)  Spanish (8)  Dutch (6)  Italian (6)  German (2)  Danish (2)  French (2)  Portuguese (1)  Hebrew (1)  Catalan (1)  Lithuanian (1)  All languages (156)
Showing 1-5 of 126 (next | show all)
Review: The House Of The Spirits by Isabel Allende.

This was an interesting book reading about a Chilean family, generation to generation. It started out slow and tediousness in places but also fascinating. Allende’s writing was comfortable, appealing and her narration slowly turned the years through the family’s passions, secrets and fidelities with personal dignitaries. The characters are well developed and descriptively colorful individuals. The historical settings enhanced the book because Allende combined modern history which shows social and political developments as the story unfolds.

The main two characters, Esteban and Clara Truba made it an unforgettable story. Clara was clairvoyant, very spiritual, intuitive, strong, and stubborn in a good way and caring while her husband, Esteban was an ambitious pigheaded evil person most of the time. He raped young girls, cruel to his tenants and obsessed over his wife, Clara. They had three children, Jaime, a scholar, Nicolas, an adventurer, and Blanca, a girl in love with a man, Pedro Tercero that she was forbidden to see. This family lived between two places off and on. Esteban owned a small settlement called, Tres Marias that had been abandoned years ago but when he got into one of his moods he went back there and brought the place back to what it once was and added more modern housing and he took the land and created pastures for farming food, and animals. However his character did not change….He was brutally cruel to his tenants of the settlement who had to take his abuse because they had no where to go. He physically abused Clara one time and she never spoke to him again only through someone else.

There was plenty of Latin culture, magical realism to complement characters that stimulated sympathy, affection, enmity, wonder, and mirth bringing the reader some passion for the peasants and children of that culture. This story is told through almost eighty years of tragedy and triumph for this family. Through the eye of Esteban Trueba, the family’s volatile patriarch, who represents the best and worst of the old aristocracy of Chile, and through the information that Alba, Esteban’s granddaughter, who was also a character in the book, has put together through family diaries and past events tell a story of only one family in Chile. They believe the sins of Esteban’s will eventually come back to torment his descendants….

This story has so much to tell readers about the history of this family from the elderly to the youngest, through sadness and the joy, culture from the past to the future, from the peasants to the upper class, and the connections of the Chilean’s Government right or wrong….. ( )
  Juan-banjo | Oct 6, 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”

( )
  lamotamant | Sep 22, 2016 |
I probably would have given this book 5 starts if My interest hadn't waned a bit at the end. Allende is a great writer and the translation is well done so it is allways a pleasure to read one of her books. This family was odd from the start, there was no way their story would be anything else but a little strange and over the top, just the kind of dynamic I like to read. ( )
  janismack | Jul 4, 2016 |
This one took awhile to grow on me - at first it seems to wander pointlessly, but by the end it reveals itself as truly grand in scope. ( )
  Darth-Heather | May 31, 2016 |

House of the Spirits - Allende
4 stars

As a debut novel this is an incredibly impressive book. Shelfari lists 56 characters, and the time frame of this family saga is nearly a century. The characters were very colorful and the historic setting was richly described and interesting. Allende never calls the country Chile, nor does she identify any historical character by their real name. But we all know where and when this story took place.

The magical components of the book are mostly in the hands of the women, especially Clara the Clairvoyant. I liked the way La Casa de Los Espiritus always connected the surviving family members to the past. But I was annoyed that Clara’s ability to predict the future made her seem passive in the face of brutality. There were so many vivid, unique characters in this family. Their individual stories are fascinating, but in some way they seemed disconnected to each other. It was only at the end, when Alma identifies herself as the second narrator, that I could see how she was “assembling a jigsaw puzzle in which each piece had a specific place.” As I was reading the book with its 30 to 40 page long chapters, I was interested in the events and characters of each chapter, but I never felt terribly compelled to start the next chapter. It took a long time to finish the book. And, I will probably be thinking about it for a long time.

I’ve had this book on my list for a very long time. I was living in Caracas in 1980 when, apparently, Allende was living there, writing this book. Twentieth century Chilean history is very painful. Twenty first century Venezuelan history is looking to be same story, different location. Minor variations on a theme, but as Alma says at the end of this book, the pattern seems to repeat itself. I truly wish I’d been able to read this book in Spanish. I tried, but although I can read Jorge Curioso to a group of young children, this book was beyond me.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 126 (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 (59 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isabel Allendeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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
Risvik, KjellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thompson, MichelleCover artistsecondary 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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