Originally published: 1982
Author: Isabel Allende
Original title: La casa de los espiritus
Translator: Magda Bogin
Genres: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism
The story is written from two points of view. The first is of a narrator who tells us the story and the second is that of the main character, Esteban Trueba. We follow the del Valle family and their daughters Rosa and Clara who become intertwined with Esteban when he falls in love with Rosa. She dies suddenly and very young, and years later he marries Clara, her younger sister.
Based on the true events that chronicled life from the end of the 19th century all the way up to the Chilean Revolution in the 1970s, and was influenced by Isabelle’s own experience and life. Her father’s cousin was Salvador Allende, who was the first ever elected Marxist president in Chile and overthrown by tyrannical dictator General Augusto Pinochet, with the help of the American CIA.
Weaved throughout this family saga are elements of magic such as fortune telling, spirits, levitation, dream interpretations and other like occurrences that create a sort of mystical feel to the story. Most of the magic revolves around Clara, who Esteban refers to as Clara the Clairvoyant, and who chronicled all of their lives in her journals, which were then used to tell the story by the narrator.
We see a cruel family patriarch, a quiet yet insightful mother and wife, and several eccentric and influential children and grandchildren that move the story across the backdrop of the Great War, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam and finally, Chile’s Revolution. Beautiful and heart wrenching, the characters will stick with you and provide a detailed look at how a country experiencing economic hardships and an industrial revolution ended up where they did.
(All images pulled from Wikipedia)