A Long Petal of the Sea
From the New York Times bestselling author of The House of the Spirits comes an epic novel spanning decades and crossing continents, following two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a new place to call home. 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.

A Long Petal of the Sea Details

TitleA Long Petal of the Sea
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 21st, 2020
PublisherBallantine Books
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Cultural, Spain, Adult, Literary Fiction, War, Romance, Adult Fiction, Audiobook

A Long Petal of the Sea Review

  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed a number of Allende’s earlier books, but a few of the more recent ones have not been quite as satisfying. Yet, I could not resist the opportunity to read this one because I was looking for the Allende of those earlier novels and I found her . It felt like Allende at her best - a family saga with richly defined characters deeply connected to their family, their culture, their country, their lives shaped by the political landscape. There were times when I felt a bit bogged down by the I enjoyed a number of Allende’s earlier books, but a few of the more recent ones have not been quite as satisfying. Yet, I could not resist the opportunity to read this one because I was looking for the Allende of those earlier novels and I found her . It felt like Allende at her best - a family saga with richly defined characters deeply connected to their family, their culture, their country, their lives shaped by the political landscape. There were times when I felt a bit bogged down by the political details later in the book, even though it is the political events which drive the story. Having said that, she does a wonderful job of depicting the effects of the Spanish Civil War, the ravages of that war and I learned things that I never knew about that war , about concentration camps there and about a ship carrying refugees to Chile. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Wi.... Victor and Roser Dalmau, who leave their home at the brink of WWII, after much hardship, loss and suffering arrive in Chile and it becomes their home for many years . They have married out of the need to survive, out of family loyalty, out of love for her son and his nephew and they stay together for many years out of love. The story of their relationship, who they are as individuals, and who they become together is the heart of the story, but the soul of this family saga is what Allende herself knows and experienced in the Chile where she was raised. The story was even more poignant after reading Allende’s Acknowledgements at the end of the book, where she says : “This is a novel, but the events and historical individuals are real. The characters are fictional, inspired by people I’ve known. I have had to imagine very little ....”I received an advanced copy of this book from Ballantine through NetGalley.
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  • Elyse Walters
    January 1, 1970
    “One of the most richly imagined portrayals of the Spanish Civil War to date, and one of the strongest and affecting works in [Isabelle Allende’s] long career” — —The New York Times book review.AGREE!!!!!!I’ve read 15 books by this powerhouse pint-size extraordinary author.... both fiction, and nonfiction. I’ve met Isabel Allende three times...I admire Isabel Allende’s exceptional storytelling skills while educating me about history: ( people, places, and dates) —This global humanitarian- “One of the most richly imagined portrayals of the Spanish Civil War to date, and one of the strongest and affecting works in [Isabelle Allende’s] long career” — —The New York Times book review.AGREE!!!!!!I’ve read 15 books by this powerhouse pint-size extraordinary author.... both fiction, and nonfiction. I’ve met Isabel Allende three times...I admire Isabel Allende’s exceptional storytelling skills while educating me about history: ( people, places, and dates) —This global humanitarian- feisty-strong-as-bull-woman - took my breath away in “A Long Petal of the Sea”.I’m one of her fans who has enjoyed all of her books - different topics and styles.....from her early days...to a pause - (grief from her daughter’s Paula’s death), to two very special non-fiction books:“Paula”and“The Sum of Our Days”.... to books she has written in more recent years...to..... our present day: Jan. 2020. I like reading what Isabel Allende writes: period!!!That said... this is my favorite ‘fiction’ book of the many other wonderful novels she’s written. I took twice as long to read it than was necessary...I have pages of notes. I did it for my own educational study. I had no agreement to write a review. I paid for the book myself —took notes for myself. Looked up information to fill in holes on Google. I’m happy to share with others - have discussions - but I didn’t feel an ounce of obligation in reading/learning/ and enjoying it. There are a few more details I’d like to say in this review - have some fun sharing more tidbits........I’m too tired to do it now...but I’ll return. Nobody has to read my updated review later - ( I want to write more - for my own memory pleasure & completion), but thank you ahead of time, for those who do read more of my chatter. I’m grateful having ‘ ‘learned’ as much as I did. I studied it - poured my entire soul into this novel.... looking up names information... wanting to explore specific details more — ...it took a lot of extra time to read this book the way I did...And....I had a darn great time doing it! I’ll be back in a day or two for part II of this review.I’m BACK:From war-torn Spain to Chile.... ....incredible history teachings, dramatic storytelling, epic in scope, ( spans decades), love and survival. General Francisco Franco ruled over Spain from 1939 to 1975. During his rule Franco assumed the title ‘Caudillo’ (powerful political leader).His dictatorship changed over time; people feared his brutal repression. Much of the civilian population were escaping to the French borders by any means possible, escaping Franco’s dictatorship. Victor Dalmau, a young paramedic for three years during the Spanish Civil War - (in Spain -from 1936-1939) ...along with other doctors transported the wounded from the hospital and trains, ambulances, and trucks. They had to make so many quick harrowing decisions to leave the most seriously wounded behind, since they were bound to die of the journey. “Crammed into cattle trucks or battered vehicles, lying on the floor, freezing cold, constantly jolted, with no food, combatants who had just been operated on, or the wounded, blind, had amputated limbs, or were delirious from fever, typhus, dysentery, or gangrene, made their way out of Barcelona.The medical staff had nothing with which to relieve their suffering, and could offer only water, words of comfort, and sometimes, if a dying man asked for it, a final prayer”. “Victor had seen dreadful wounds, assisted at amputations without anesthetics, helped more than one unfortunate youngster die, and thought he had developed the hide of a crocodile; and yet the tragic journey in the wagons he was in charge of destroyed his spirit”. France was watching in horror as the border became jammed with a crush of people that the authorities managed to keep barely in check by employing armed soldiers and the fearsome colonial troops from Senegal and Algeria, with their turbines, rifles,’s and whips. The whole country was overwhelmed by this massiveinflux of undesirables, as they were officially called. “Undesirables” .... is what the French government called the refugees coming into their borders. Women, children, soldiers, totally exhausted from anger and fatigued.... marched across the border into France -in a country that didn’t want them- singing with their fists raised. After arriving in France, tens of thousands of Spanish refugees were taken to the camp of Argeles-sur-Mer. (fenced off on the beach)Senegalese and armed police guarded the fenced off camp. Roser Bruguera, was very pregnant, bearing Guillem Dalmau’s child.She was strong. She knew could deal with whatever was thrown at her for the sake of her child and meeting Guillem again,but.......she didn’t know that Guillem had died. It was maddening to know that the French government left the refugees out in the open day and night exposed to the cold and rain. Hygiene was nonexistent. They had no latrines or drinkable water. Women gathered and tight groups to defend themselves against sexual aggression of the guards. Between 30 and 40 people died every day, first of children from dysentery, then the elderly from pneumonia.One woman woke up one morning to find her dead five month old daughter after the temperature had fallen below freezing. Later that night, the grieving mother went out to the waters edge and waited out into the sea until she disappeared. She was not the only one. Many years later the exact statistics became known:Almost 15,000 people died in those French camps, from hunger, starvation, mistreatment, and illnesses, Nine out of every ten children perished.Elizabeth Eidenbenz -a real historical figure in Isabell Allende’s book....was a teacher and a nurse.She saved approximately 600 children who were mostly the children of Spanish Republicans, jewish refugees and gypsies fleeing the Nazi invasion. Camp commanders in France were trying to get rid of the refugees. They were trying to force them back to Spain. Elizabeth Eidenbenz was determined to set up a proper maternity home in an abandoned mansion in Elne ( in the Country of Roussillon, France)...Anyone who was able to find a sponsor or a job we’re allowed to go free. So Elizabeth took Roser (who was still very pregnant), with her.They arrived at Perpignan first... where a house was being used as a maternity unit. There were eight young women, pregnant, and others with newborn babies in their arms.A little relief....a place to give birth, ( a baby boy named Marcel), a little replenishing .....but not much time to rest....Eventually, Victor and Roser escape together, with the help from Pablo Neruda. Victor says he will marry Roser....take care of her and be the father to baby Marcel. ( a complete marriage-agreement -arrangement).Victor doesn’t expect Roser to ‘do-the-duty’....( a sexless marriage in other words). But loveless? ..... No....I wouldn’t say loveless....Pablo Neruda, ( famous poet), arranged and organized the transport of refugees of the war to Chile. Two thousand people traveled on ‘The Winnipeg’ to Chile. LEARNING ABOUT PABLO NERUDA ....was a highlight for me. Pablo Neruda - thirty four - was considered the best poet of his generation.Neruda had been passionate for Spain; but he loathed Fascism and was so concerned about the fate of the defeated Republicans that he had managed to convince the new Chilean president to allow a certain number to come into Chile... in defiance of the right wing parties and Catholic Church. The second part of this novel portrays the political, and social divisions among the Chileans. We meet the upper class Solar Family: ......Isidro, del Solar, his wife, Laura, and their 19 year old daughter, Ofelia (Beautiful and flirtatious), were all together. There were six del Solar children in all. The year was 1939:“The Reina Del Pacifico”- was the fastest motor liner of its time, which offered movies, theater, music, circuses, and ventriloquists), left the Chilean port of Valparaiso at the start of May, to dock in Liverpool twenty-seven days later. There were 162 passengers in second class, and 446 in third.... of several different languages being spoken. ( Isidro, Laura, and Ofelia were on the boat too).There was an orchestra and a female String Quartet on the ship.... and a Captain’s dinner ( foie gras, caviar, Champagne, and desserts), gathering one evening. I had my first laugh, when Laura groaned as she struggled into her ‘girdle’. I’ve never worn a girdle in my life -I value breathing. LolBut I know what it feels like to feel yucky from putting on weight. Laura tried to get out of that dinner, as she obviously didn’t feel great about herself... but her husband, Isidro, wanted her to make an effort, for him... for his business connections.I laughed as the couple argued about basic personal things. Laura worried about not being able to fit in her dress.Isidro told her she always looked pretty... just wear something else. A horrific ‘war’ was going on....and Laura worried about beauty. I found it amazing that such little things, ( clothes, jewelry, body image), still what mattered to a persons self-esteem.Laura was aware of her privileged good fortune at being born into the Vizcarra family, of marrying Isidro del Solar. She knew she had been protected and waited on. She also gave birth to six children without ever having changed a diaper or prepares a bottle. Juana Nancucheo was in charge of all of the childcare-she’s supervised the wet nurses and servants. Juana was a wonderful memorable character to me. Juana Nancucheo: mixed criollo and Mapuche...had been in charge of the del Solar household. She supervised three maids, cook, laundress, Gardner, etc. Felipe taught Juana to read, write and do sumswhich created a close bond - Juana covered up any mischief he got into Later he helped her invest her savings in shares of stock exchange Felipe had such a gentle character that people took advantage of him His dad, Isidro, didn’t appreciate his son’s charitable impulses. The worse earthquake( which left twenty thousand dead and whole towns flattened), to hit Chile - 1960 - coincided with the exodus of people from Catalonia toward the border of France.The Spanish Civil War left hundreds and thousands dead, wounded, or refugees- by comparison was a far greater tragedy. TONS TONS TONS ..... more I could say for this masterpiece achievement.But I’ll end with words from Pablo Neruda......“Let’s keep anger, pain, and tears,Let’s fill the desolate voidAnd may the nightly bonfire recallThe light at the deceased stars”. .... Pablo Neruda ( “Jose Miguel Carrera,1810”)
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  • Debra
    January 1, 1970
    I really struggled with this book and was shocked as I really enjoy Allende's work. Ines of My Soul being my favorite of her books. I enjoyed the beginning, Roser comes from nothing and is adopted by a wealthy man and she has a gift for the piano. She falls in love with a young soldier who dies before their son is born. His brother Victor marries her to give the boy a father and to help her get to Chile with him. You see, people are fleeing Spain and Roser and Victor can get on a boat sailing to I really struggled with this book and was shocked as I really enjoy Allende's work. Ines of My Soul being my favorite of her books. I enjoyed the beginning, Roser comes from nothing and is adopted by a wealthy man and she has a gift for the piano. She falls in love with a young soldier who dies before their son is born. His brother Victor marries her to give the boy a father and to help her get to Chile with him. You see, people are fleeing Spain and Roser and Victor can get on a boat sailing to Chile. He is a doctor and she is a musician. They can contribute to their new country and make a life for themselves there. Their book follows their life together, how they grow individually and together. How they share a deep bond and how they survive through their travels.There are many themes here and this book is based on historical facts, but it just failed to grab me. It is slow moving and that is part of the issue. It is a slow burn and normally I don't mind that but, in this case, it didn't work for me. I don't know if it was my mood at the time or my inability to connect with her story telling. This is one of those books that I can say, I enjoyed but it won’t stay with me for long. Again, this took me by surprise as I normally have thoroughly enjoyed all her books. I encourage readers to read all reviews are decide for yourselves.Thank you to Random House Publishing House Publishing Group - Ballantine and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
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  • Ceecee
    January 1, 1970
    Isabel Allende is one of my favourite authors and I have read a lot of her books over the years. This one is a real epic in every sense of the word and I read with fascination, admiration and at times horror at what humans inflict on fellow humans. The central characters are Victor Dalmau and Roser Bruguera and the novel takes us from the Spanish Civil War to Chile in 1994. Victor and Roser fight on the Republican side against Franco’s Nationalists, they flee Spain and go to France, from there Isabel Allende is one of my favourite authors and I have read a lot of her books over the years. This one is a real epic in every sense of the word and I read with fascination, admiration and at times horror at what humans inflict on fellow humans. The central characters are Victor Dalmau and Roser Bruguera and the novel takes us from the Spanish Civil War to Chile in 1994. Victor and Roser fight on the Republican side against Franco’s Nationalists, they flee Spain and go to France, from there they eventually go to Chile as poet Pablo Neruda hires a ship The Winnipeg to rescue some the trapped Spanish citizens. The long petal of the sea in Chile and this is how Neruda describes it to those he has rescued. Each chapter has some of Neruda’s words or poetry which is lovely. Here are real events combined with fictional characters to create an amazing historical novel. This is an incredible story which takes an overarching look at real events and to me it felt like a docu-drama. I like the first part of the book more than the second as I think the storytelling of the Spanish Civil War is very compelling. I had Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica in my mind as I read about the shocking events. The part of the story in Chile is very good and at times shocking - Pinochet’s military dictatorship is well documented and is part of other books by Isabel Allende. I think perhaps because I knew less about the story set in France and Spain and so I enjoyed those sections more. My one criticism is that the story is told in the third person and at times this feels a bit impersonal but I’m assuming this is a deliberate choice as at times the characters have to detach themselves from horrific events around them. The book has many themes. There is love especially between Victor and Roser, there is hope symbolised by The Winnipeg and a new life in Chile, there is a desire to find a place to belong as Victor and Roser’s life journey took them to several countries, there is war and dictatorship, there is bravery and survival. This is a massively ambitious book and tremendous respect goes to the author for daring to tell such a huge story. There are some fantastic descriptions and one of the ones that I will remember is when Victor felt his heart physically break with the reality of the Nationalist victory in Spain and the consequences of that for him and others. The characters real and imaginary are fantastic- I especially love Roser as her optimism in the face of terrible odds is inspirational and Victor is brave, loyal and deeply caring. Some of the events are heartbreaking and shocking both in Spain and Chile. I had no idea that France called the Spanish refugees Undesirables and either sent them back to Spain or put them in concentration camps where many died. That Roser and Victor survive to live on so successfully in Chile is miraculous. This is a soaring, inspirational tale which had me gripped from start to finish and I like that the book finishes on an optimistic note for Victor. Many thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing.
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you, Random House and Ballantine Books, for the gifted copy. Isabel Allende has long been one of my favorite storytellers, ever since I read The House of the Spirits/La Casa de los Espiritus in Spanish while in college. I was lost in A Long Petal of the Sea. So much so, I slowly savored reading it over a month’s time, which I rarely do. I needed to read it slowly because I never wanted to leave these characters. It also gave me time to reflect on this book’s brilliance. This type of Thank you, Random House and Ballantine Books, for the gifted copy. Isabel Allende has long been one of my favorite storytellers, ever since I read The House of the Spirits/La Casa de los Espiritus in Spanish while in college. I was lost in A Long Petal of the Sea. So much so, I slowly savored reading it over a month’s time, which I rarely do. I needed to read it slowly because I never wanted to leave these characters. It also gave me time to reflect on this book’s brilliance. This type of characterization and storytelling is exactly why I read. Bonus points for learning more about Spain during this time period.I know it's probably clear: A Long Petal of the Sea is at the top of my favorites list. If you love a story you can fall into, please don’t miss it. No one weaves a story like Isabel Allende.Many of my reviews can also be found on instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
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  • Nadia
    January 1, 1970
    I came across Isabel Allende when I was 16 and was looking for books similar to One Hundred Years of Solitude. Somebody recommended The House of the Spirits (her first novel) to me which I read in a day and is one of my all time favourites. I've read a couple of other novels from Isabel Allende who in my opinion consistently delivers well writtenbooks often with aspects of magical realism intertwined with the rich history of Chile, and political and social insights. A Long Petal of the Sea is a I came across Isabel Allende when I was 16 and was looking for books similar to One Hundred Years of Solitude. Somebody recommended The House of the Spirits (her first novel) to me which I read in a day and is one of my all time favourites. I've read a couple of other novels from Isabel Allende who in my opinion consistently delivers well written books often with aspects of magical realism intertwined with the rich history of Chile, and political and social insights.  A Long Petal of the Sea is a historical fiction novel (with no elements of magical realism), a family saga spanning from 1936 to 1994. Based on the true events of the ship Winnipeg which carried over 2,000 Spanish refugees from France to Chile in 1939 organised by the poet Pablo Neruda, the story follows the lives of a young doctor Victor Dalmau and his wife Roser. While the story is fictional, the book provides a realistic account of the Spanish Civil War, the political situation in Chile during WWII and after. While I enjoyed learning about the historic events depicted in the novel, the story itself can lack excitement at times as some of the plot events are described more than once and felt a bit repetitive.    3.5 starsMany thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for my review opy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Brina
    January 1, 1970
    It is January and that means the winter doldrums. I am afflicted with seasonal affective disorder each winter and combat it with a jolt of vitamin d and an annual trip to Florida. A week in the sun under the palm trees usually does the trick until I return to the winter gloom. There have been years where I haven’t picked up a book for five weeks and been miserable until this year when I realized the best way to combat winter blues- magic, or more specifically books by my favorite authors. I It is January and that means the winter doldrums. I am afflicted with seasonal affective disorder each winter and combat it with a jolt of vitamin d and an annual trip to Florida. A week in the sun under the palm trees usually does the trick until I return to the winter gloom. There have been years where I haven’t picked up a book for five weeks and been miserable until this year when I realized the best way to combat winter blues- magic, or more specifically books by my favorite authors. I first found out about Isabel Allende’s new book last summer and was giddy with anticipation. Allende has been my favorite author since she first introduced me to Hispanic magical realism and the Latina amiga authors way back when I was in middle school. I have journeyed through her books over most of my life, rereading my favorites multiple times. Her last book In the Midst of Winter left a bad taste in my mouth because it was devoid of both the magical realism and historical fiction that has made her a leading author of her generation. With reviews heralding A Long Petal of the Sea as a book that places Allende at the peak of her powers, I knew that this would be a must read for me and a highlight of my reading year. Suffice it to say, this time around Allende did not let me down. Upon reading the first lines of A Long Petal of the Sea, I knew that Allende had returned to her bread and butter. The premise reminded me of Daughter of Fortune, a quality historical fiction novel that she wrote from the heart but has little magical realism. In both cases, the fast moving story that still takes the time to develop complex characters is magic in itself. It is 1936 in Barcelona, Catalonia. The Spanish Civil War has threatened to destroy the country as Franco and his forces have attacked both communist and resister forces to their breaking point. Told on the eve of a war that threatened to destroy the European continent, Allende introduces her readers to the Dalmau family: Marcel Lluis, a music professor, and his wife Carme, a teacher, along with their two sons Victor, a doctor serving along the front lines of the war, and Guillém, one who has yet to find himself but is serving in the army as an able bodied person. The Dalmaus are also the surrogate parents to Roser Bruguera, a promising pianist, the heart and soul of this novel and the love of Guillem’s life. Although Franco threatens to ruin the Spain that citizens like the Dalmaus call home, the love between Guillem and Roser give hope for a new generation until Guillem is killed at the battle of the Ebro, and Victor promises to get his mother and sister in law to safety in France. Europe is on the verge of exploding so 1939 France is no safer than Spain. Forward thinking citizens are fleeing to any North or South American country that will take them in, leading to a mass migration of humanity. Pablo Neruda, a communist who is also the leading poet of his generation and future Nobel laureate, sponsors a ship named that Winnipeg that will allow Spanish refugees to find a new home in Chile, that long petal of the sea at the end of the world. Carme is separated from Roser but Victor pleads his case to Neruda after he hastily marries Roser so that she and her son Marcel can have a better future. Neruda admires Victor’s quick thinking skills and tells him that there will always be a place in Chile for people like him, also setting a course for the two to enjoy a life long friendship. The doctor who at the time is married in name only earns a place on the Winnipeg, ensuring that his family will take root in a foreign country. Mirroring Daughter of Fortune twenty years earlier when Eliza Sommers seeks to immigrate to California from Chile, the Dalmaus set sail from Spain to Chile, setting the stage for a saga that spans another fifty years against the backdrop of a country that undergoes immense political and internal upheaval. Victor Dalmau will become a symbol for many of these changes as Allende tells a more intricate tale of her country than the one that first made her famous more than thirty years ago. Quality historical fiction tells the story of a time and place while also weaving the tale of a complex characters over the span of time. At her best, Allende does this as well as anyone. A Long Petal of the Sea is the story of both her country and her family. In the course of parts two and three of this novel, she includes anecdotes of Pablo Neruda, her uncle Salvador Allende, the Pinochet regime, and the refugees who were forced to seek asylum in Venezuela. This is her personal story so one can sense that it was told from the heart. Victor Dalmau through his relationship with Felipe del Solar and his wealthy family becomes a respected surgeon in Santiago. He had put down roots for himself by establishing the Winnipeg tavern as a Catalonian watering hole so that new immigrants would feel comfortable in their new country, while paying homage to the ship that brought them to freedom. While running the tavern, Roser went to work at the university making a name for herself as a gifted pianist and teacher. Marcel grows up behind the bar in an environment permeated by adults and is gifted beyond belief, earning a PhD in mineral engineering. Over time, Victor and Roser’s marriage becomes one of tender love rather than just convenience, and members of Allende’s family begin to show themselves in the peripheral characters in the novel, resulting in a story that is powerful at the close. Isabel Allende notes that this story tells itself. She got the inspiration for parts of the prose while her family was exiled in Venezuela and she met fellow refugee Victor Pey, who had a lifetime of stories to tell her about their homeland. At the time, Allende did not think that she was going to be a writer, yet, the magical part of her family’s story was already on her mind as she began to write House of the Spirits. When it came time to write A Long Petal of the Sea, the story began to tell itself. There are so many themes here that are prevalent in Allende’s novels that make this a special novel: an homage to Chile, strong female characters in Roser Bruguera and Ofelia del Solar, forbidden romance between lovers of different stations of society and the ensuing consequences. I have revisited these in Allende’s opus and complementary trilogy, which makes her reinventing herself toward the end of her career all the more special. Her uncle President Salvador Allende and Pablo Neruda play prominent roles to advance the plot, ensuring that Victor Dalmau is not only forever grateful to the Chilean people for furthering his family’s existence but that he also has a front row seat to the history unfolding before him. With a sparkling cover to symbolize the hope the Spanish war refugees must have felt upon arriving in Chile, A Long Petal of the Sea is sure to reel in a reader from its first pages. It may not be permeated in magical realism, but it is a moving historical saga that has all the key elements of a quality Allende novel. Historical figures, love triangles, the story of her own family, and appearances by recurring characters all play a role in the development of this novel. Isabel Allende has told the story of the Spanish Civil War while also weaving the history of Chile during the course of the 20th century. If this is the novel that she has written as a swan song to her illustrious career, then the story of the Dalmaus and Del Solar families is sure to merit a place next to her award winning novels. This time, Isabel Allende did not disappoint. Her homage to Chile has helped to rescue me from the winter doldrums and while it is not rich in magical realism, the story is pure magic. *5 stars*
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    I just can't get into this one. The historical period was specifically what attracted me to the book but it overwhelms the story- too much research, too little character- all feeding into the list-like nature of the prose. It's impossible to feel any kind of emotional connection to a catalogue of: this happened and then this happened, this is what this person thought of it. And then this happened. Page after page.I've read academic history books with more feeling.
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 So very glad that Allende has returned to form. I had trouble with her last few books, though her earlier novels were outstanding. Historicals are definitely her forte as this book about demonstrated.This is the story of Victor and Roser who get together under tragic circumstances. It is also a story of war, refugees, displacement and making a new country one's home. The Spanish Civil War, Franco and his terror, which sends many fleeing to France where they are not welcomed. Pablo Neruda, 4.5 So very glad that Allende has returned to form. I had trouble with her last few books, though her earlier novels were outstanding. Historicals are definitely her forte as this book about demonstrated.This is the story of Victor and Roser who get together under tragic circumstances. It is also a story of war, refugees, displacement and making a new country one's home. The Spanish Civil War, Franco and his terror, which sends many fleeing to France where they are not welcomed. Pablo Neruda, and his ship the Winnipeg. Neruda sponsored and chose a group of refugees that would settle in Chile. Roser and Victor are among this group and will result in a lifelong friendship. In Chile Victor plays chess with Allende, a duly elected President, though not for long. Replaced by the Generals in a coup that will result in Pinchocets dictatorship. The historical facts are true, as are the people. A book that shows love can grow, even under the worst possible circumstances. Victor and Roser are wonderful, fully realized characters. The prose is terrific, and resulted in a very readable, well flowing story. The status and non welcoming of refugees is current today, where many are fleeing danger in their own countries, trying to find safety, a new life. The refugee camps, also still present today, are found I many countries , detention centers in my own. As always when reading historicals I am disturbed to find how much my own country is involved in the fate of others. Wish it wasn't so, but it is what it is. We can't change history but one would think we could learn from it and do better. Wishful thinking.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    Pain is inevitable in this world. But what separates us as humans is how we react and respond to the relentless waves that pound against us in their fury. Who we become upon reaching the other side is telling in itself.Isabel Allende is a masterful narradora......a Chilean storyteller with an amazing experiential background. Born in Lima, Peru, she has lived through Latin American unrest. In A Long Petal of the Sea, Allende will focus on the horrendous impact upon the people because of the Pain is inevitable in this world. But what separates us as humans is how we react and respond to the relentless waves that pound against us in their fury. Who we become upon reaching the other side is telling in itself.Isabel Allende is a masterful narradora......a Chilean storyteller with an amazing experiential background. Born in Lima, Peru, she has lived through Latin American unrest. In A Long Petal of the Sea, Allende will focus on the horrendous impact upon the people because of the Spanish Civil War beginning in 1936. There are parallels with Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls that was inspired by his years as a war correspondent in Spain. You feel it, you see it, you live it.A Long Petal of the Sea opens the door to 1938 in Spain and focuses on several families who have been caught up in the midst of the country's civil war. General Francisco Franco and his forces wish Spain to return to its imperial glories of the past. With his high and mighty mindset, he rules with an iron fist and spreads terror. Thousands of his own countrymen are slaughtered for speaking out and rising up against him. His atrocities are felt by the Lincoln Brigade of Americans who came to assist. Over 9,000 Americans are buried on Spanish soil.The aforementioned families include two brothers, Victor and Guillen Dalmau, whose lives we will track through Allende's outstanding writing. Survival will mean escaping Spain for France and then to South America, in particular Chile, through the appeal of the poet Pablo Neruda. Without Neruda's help thousands more Spaniards would have died at the hands of Franco.Allende's characters are so complex as their lives unfold. It's here that many readers will feel the intricacies of Allende's story and it may bog down at times with the weight of it. But this is Allende's gift for detail at which she excels so well. You will readily feel the frustrations and hope's deadends through her storytelling. A Long Petal of the Sea takes you to a place in history where you may have little or no experience. Compassion brews upward from allowing yourself to feel and experience another's pain. War and civil unrest create the sorrowful situations of people on the move seeking a far better existence and forcing themselves to rebuild their lives under dire circumstances. Resilience comes with guarding your heart while taking on the mantle of a new identity. I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Ballantine Books (Random House) and to the highly talented Isabel Allende.
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  • Bam cooks the books ;-)
    January 1, 1970
    One thing I love about reading is the vicarious thrill I get from being immersed in situations beyond my own experiences, my own lifetime. Allende's latest book of historical fiction first takes us to Spain in the 1930s where we experience the Spanish Civil War firsthand through the lives of the Dalmau family and later their desperate escape to France when all hope is lost and General Francisco Franco grasps controls of their country. Eventually, with the help of poet Pablo Neruda and the ship One thing I love about reading is the vicarious thrill I get from being immersed in situations beyond my own experiences, my own lifetime. Allende's latest book of historical fiction first takes us to Spain in the 1930s where we experience the Spanish Civil War firsthand through the lives of the Dalmau family and later their desperate escape to France when all hope is lost and General Francisco Franco grasps controls of their country. Eventually, with the help of poet Pablo Neruda and the ship of hope named The Winnipeg he has arranged to transport refugees of the war, the Dalmau family makes it to Chile just as the Second World War begins back in Europe. They have great hopes of starting over in this new country on a new continent, but even here, politics continue to make life unstable and precarious. One part sounded a warning, even for us in the U.S., of the need for compromise, as mother and son discuss the political situation in Chile in the 1970s: "What we saw in Spain can happen here." Mother warns. "Allende says there'll never be fratricidal conflict here. The government and people will prevent it." replies her son."That comrade of yours is too naive by half. Chile is divided into irreconcilable groups, son. Friends are fighting, families are split down the middle; it's impossible to talk to anyone who doesn't think as you do. I don't see many of my old friends anymore so that we don't fight."Sound familiar? Although Allende's story is fictional, it is based on historical fact and she peoples it with several historical figures such as Neruda and Salvador Allende. But it is the characters she imagines that are the most touching as we follow the Dalmau family through their lives full of turmoil but also great love. The title of the book comes from Neruda's definition of Chile 'as a long petal of sea and wine and snow...with a belt of back and white foam.' Each chapter begins with a bit of Neruda's poetry--very lovely. Beautiful cover artwork too.I was fortunate to be given an arc of Allende's new book by the publisher via netGalley in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to them for the opportunity.
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  • Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestI've read a lot of Isabel Allende's stuff before and I really like some of it, but some of it is also too weird for me. A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA is actually a pretty good introduction to Isabel Allende because it's mild, and doesn't have any magic realism, so you get a sense of her literary style without the surrealism that can sometimes make her stories hard to follow.A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA is set in Spain in the 1930s, under the fascist Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestI've read a lot of Isabel Allende's stuff before and I really like some of it, but some of it is also too weird for me. A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA is actually a pretty good introduction to Isabel Allende because it's mild, and doesn't have any magic realism, so you get a sense of her literary style without the surrealism that can sometimes make her stories hard to follow.A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA is set in Spain in the 1930s, under the fascist regime of Francisco Franco. A rift is beginning to form, and those who do not follow his tyrannical ways suffer or disappear. Roser and Victor are a young couple who end up fleeing as refugees to Chile. Their marriage is one of convenience so they can both be sponsored by Pablo Neruda to contribute to Chile's economy in new positions (as a musician and a doctor).One of the things I liked best about this book is that it's like one of those epics from the 1970s and 80s-- it follows Roser and Victor throughout their entire lives. Roser's history is especially interesting, as she came from nothing, and was adopted by a rich old man, only to fall in love with a soldier who died before they could be officially married, leaving her as a single mother. When she marries Victor, her brother-in-law, they aren't attracted to each other at all. He only marries her to be a father to her son, Marcel, and help get her into Chile as his wife.Victor is definitely a kind man, although he makes mistakes (one of which is having an affair with the daughter of a wealthy landowner, Ofelia). It's not really cheating since their relationship (the one he has with Roser) is open, and both of them plan to get divorced eventually, once they go back to Spain. Their platonic relationship actually gives them a really strong bond, though, and eventually, after so many years of companionship and shared experiences, Victor begins to fall for her for real.The end of the book is a little sad and bittersweet, but not for the reasons you might think. A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA is a very timely book, because it shows how immigrants and refugees can contribute and add to a country's culture and economy, as well as the inevitability of our mortal ends, and the importance of having a life well-lived, surrounded by family. It's definitely a much better book than THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE, another book about fascist Spain that definitely skates over the oppression. In A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA, you feel the stakes-- and they are weighty.I'm not giving this a higher rating because it could be boring at times. Allende does a lot of recounting, more telling and less showing. It gives it an almost fairy-tale quality at times, but at other times this matter-of-fact play-by-play of every character's actions was hard to pay attention to, and I occasionally caught my mind drifting while I was attempting to read. I did like the story, and the characters, and-- again-- not to hate on Ruta Sepetys, but I'd take Isabel Allende over Ruta Sepetys any day, and if you're going to read a book about fascist Spain, this is the one you should pick.Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 3 to 3.5 stars
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  • Tami
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve enjoyed some of Isabel Allende’s previous novels and her most recent was certainly no exception. Allende is such a gifted storyteller. Even better is the fact that this novel is based on historical events.I must admit, I know very little about Spanish history, especially the Spanish Civil War that occurred during the late 1930’s. I was surprised to read that Spanish citizens had to flee the country for safety.Two of these citizens who fled were Roser and Victor. Roser, who was pregnant with I’ve enjoyed some of Isabel Allende’s previous novels and her most recent was certainly no exception. Allende is such a gifted storyteller. Even better is the fact that this novel is based on historical events.I must admit, I know very little about Spanish history, especially the Spanish Civil War that occurred during the late 1930’s. I was surprised to read that Spanish citizens had to flee the country for safety.Two of these citizens who fled were Roser and Victor. Roser, who was pregnant with Victor’s brother’s child, fled with help from Victor and one of his friends. She stays for a time in France and soon she and Victor are re-united. After learning that Victor’s brother has died, the two make a decision to marry in order for them to be able to emigrate to Chile.Unfortunately for the couple, in later years they will face more strife in Chile due to political upheaval. On a more positive note, what began as a marriage of convenience, ends up being the love of a lifetime for Victor and Roser. I found this to be a very engrossing story, although there was a bit more politics than I was expecting.Many thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for allowing to read an advance copy and give an honest review
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  • Anna Luce
    January 1, 1970
    3 starsIsabel Allende is one of my all time favourite writers. When I was in middle-grade I fell in love with her Eagle and Jaguar series and in the years since I’ve enjoyed other novels by her. Having loved her memoir of Chile, My Invented Country, I was looking forward to A Long Petal of the Sea as it promised to be an evocative account of Spanish refugees in Chile. Set against the tumultuous backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, this novel tells the story of a young doctor, Victor Dalmau, who ★★★✰✰ 3 starsIsabel Allende is one of my all time favourite writers. When I was in middle-grade I fell in love with her Eagle and Jaguar series and in the years since I’ve enjoyed other novels by her. Having loved her memoir of Chile, My Invented Country, I was looking forward to A Long Petal of the Sea as it promised to be an evocative account of Spanish refugees in Chile. Set against the tumultuous backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, this novel tells the story of a young doctor, Victor Dalmau, who alongside his sister-in-law and many of their compatriots are forced into exile. The narrative opens in Spain, introducing us to Victor, his family, and Roser. Here Allende spends large sections to detailing the causes and consequences of the Spanish Civil War. We read of the bleak reality of soldiers such as Victor’s brother as well as the dangers faced by civilians. Victor, who is fighting against the fascist regime of Francisco Franco, soon realises that the only way he and his loved ones can survive is by leaving their once beloved but now unrecognisable country. Enter the poet Pablo Neruda. It is thanks to him and the Winnipeg ship that around 2,000 refugees were able to escape a war torn Europe. In Chile Victor and Roser will have to learn to acclimate to a culture that is different from their own one. Their new status as refugees is not an easy one to embrace and both Victor and Roser will find difficulties in adjusting themselves to their new home.On paper the story sounded like a tragic yet poignant epic. Sadly, within the first pages I soon picked up on the fact that in this novel Allende’s writing is all-telling and no-showing. There are a few brief dialogues here and there, but for the most part it is an act-by-act account of historical events with a few uninspired soap-operish elements thrown into the mix.This ‘happened’, and then this ‘happened’, and years later this ‘happened’. Maybe I wouldn't have minded as much if the style hadn't been so very dry. I never grew connected to the people she was writing of because they didn’t really strike me as real people (which is ironic given that there are a few cameos of real-life people). I managed to make my way through this narrative but only out of a sense of duty (towards Allende, whom I still consider to be an excellent writer and towards NetGalley). Usually it takes me a few days to finish a book...A Long Petal of the Sea took me over a week. In the acknowledgments section Allende writes that “This book wrote itself, as if it had been dictated to me”. And in some ways it makes sense. This book feels like a blow by blow recital. The story lacks spontaneity and life, the characters are expandable. While I recognise the vast amount of research that Allende must have carried out in order to write this book, and that she was inspired by the story of someone she personally knew...the writing is this novel far too passive for my taste.
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  • Fiona
    January 1, 1970
    I was drawn to this book by its setting in the Spanish Civil War and by the story of the Winnipeg, the ship chartered by Pablo Neruda to take 2,000 refugees to Chile. The preface by Isabel Allende whet my appetite and the first few pages were a very strong and shocking opening. It soon became so, so dry though. I struggled to feel any emotion behind the words. This happened, then this happened, she said and he said, then this happened.......with a lot of historical detail behind events. The I was drawn to this book by its setting in the Spanish Civil War and by the story of the Winnipeg, the ship chartered by Pablo Neruda to take 2,000 refugees to Chile. The preface by Isabel Allende whet my appetite and the first few pages were a very strong and shocking opening. It soon became so, so dry though. I struggled to feel any emotion behind the words. This happened, then this happened, she said and he said, then this happened.......with a lot of historical detail behind events. The history was for me the most interesting part. I usually love learning about history through fiction but I’d rather read an actual history than this long-winded account.I’m not finishing this book as there are too many other books waiting on my shelves. I wanted to enjoy it much more than I did but I have to be honest. I’m giving it 3 stars because it would probably be unfair to give fewer.
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  • Linden
    January 1, 1970
    Allende’s latest novel starts out in 1938 Spain, at the height of the Spanish Civil War. After the triumph of Franco and the Fascists, Victor and his late brother’s pregnant girlfriend, Roser, set out to cross the Pyrenees into France. Against all odds, they survive, and eventually make their way to Chile. There, Victor attends medical school, marries Roser, who is a concert pianist, and they live in peace until the 1973 right wing coup causes them to suffer once again. Allende, who has done Allende’s latest novel starts out in 1938 Spain, at the height of the Spanish Civil War. After the triumph of Franco and the Fascists, Victor and his late brother’s pregnant girlfriend, Roser, set out to cross the Pyrenees into France. Against all odds, they survive, and eventually make their way to Chile. There, Victor attends medical school, marries Roser, who is a concert pianist, and they live in peace until the 1973 right wing coup causes them to suffer once again. Allende, who has done extensive research (and, as a Chilean, is writing about a time she lived through) provides a compelling insider’s look at events I knew very little about. Thanks to Random House and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC.
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  • BookOfCinz
    January 1, 1970
    A Long Petal Of The Sea by Isabel Allende was one of my most anticipated read for 2020, so much so I requested an ARC from Random House. I have been such a great fan of Allende's I know this book was deliver. A Long Petal In The Sea opened in the late 1930s during the Spain Civil War where Spain is being ripped apart. Thousands of Spanish people are fleeing to safety to other nearby countries, there is not much food and not a lot of places to ide from the Fascists. Embroiled in all of this is A Long Petal Of The Sea by Isabel Allende was one of my most anticipated read for 2020, so much so I requested an ARC from Random House. I have been such a great fan of Allende's I know this book was deliver. A Long Petal In The Sea opened in the late 1930s during the Spain Civil War where Spain is being ripped apart. Thousands of Spanish people are fleeing to safety to other nearby countries, there is not much food and not a lot of places to ide from the Fascists. Embroiled in all of this is the Dalmau family. Father who is a piano teacher and lover of the arts, Mother who is the amiable giver and continues to dote on her two sons. The two sons went off to war, one died leaving his pregnant love interest Roser pregnant with no way to leave Spain. When renowned Chilean poet Pablo Neruda hearing about the civil war and wanting to help some Spanish people decided to sponsor the SS Winnipeg leave from Spain to Chile, taking with them over 2000 refugees who would help Chile create a better tomorrow. In order to get on the ship, Victor decides to marry his brother's wife Roser to ensure they get a new start away from the Civil War. Upon setting sail to Chile Europe was plunged into World War. Victor and Roser never heard of Chile until they started sailing off to this new continent. There are a lot of things for these two to get climatize to but being hard workers Victor and Roser carved out a great life in Chile while they patiently wait for a day when they can maybe be divorced and start a life separate from each other. I expected to be utterly enthralled with this book but if I am being honest, I was not. I loved hearing about the Spanish Civil War and how it had a ripple effect thorough the world including parts of South America. I absolutely LOVED reading about the history of Spain and Chile. There are so many things I did not know about Chile as a country so that really was an eye opener and I loved it. I felt that Allende in wanting to tell us about the history kinda let the characters suffered. It is clear that a lot of research went into writing in tis book, but I felt the editing could have been better. A lot of things included in the book was not necessary and didnt help with character develop or letting me have a deeper connection with the characters. I wanted to love this, absolutely love this book but I felt it missed the mark. I will say that if you want a book that talks about the Spanish Civil War and Chile's History, this is definitely the place to start. Overall, "an ok read"
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  • Judy
    January 1, 1970
    Isabel Allende is a favorite author for me. Allende's books always seem to allow travel to so many countries! This one started in Spain, and spent time France, Chile, Argentina, and the United States. The focus of the book is an epic journey of the lives of Victor Dalmau (an army doctor), and Roser (Victor's late brother's pregnant girlfriend. They flee Spain during the Spanish Civil War, just before World War II, and cross the Pyranees into France. Somehow they made it aboard a ship carrying Isabel Allende is a favorite author for me. Allende's books always seem to allow travel to so many countries! This one started in Spain, and spent time France, Chile, Argentina, and the United States. The focus of the book is an epic journey of the lives of Victor Dalmau (an army doctor), and Roser (Victor's late brother's pregnant girlfriend. They flee Spain during the Spanish Civil War, just before World War II, and cross the Pyranees into France. Somehow they made it aboard a ship carrying refugees to Chile. They made their home there and things are peaceful for awhile, but it seems trouble can't help but find these two people. They face many hurdles during the course of the story.I enjoyed following their lives and their remarkable journey. Their lives were remarkable. I found at the end that this book was based on actual events and historical figures even though the book is a work of fiction. Thanks to Isabel Allende and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine through Netgalley for an advance copy of this book.
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  • Lou
    January 1, 1970
    A Long Petal of the Sea is the latest historical literary work from bestselling, critically-acclaimed author Isabel Allende. I have been an admirer of this master storyteller from the time I took a chance on her debut novel, The House of the Spirits, yet didn't find some of the books that immediately followed quite as alluring. This story takes place at a time of great conflict and anxiety across the globe. From the opening pages, I was reminded of how powerful and captivating her stories are A Long Petal of the Sea is the latest historical literary work from bestselling, critically-acclaimed author Isabel Allende. I have been an admirer of this master storyteller from the time I took a chance on her debut novel, The House of the Spirits, yet didn't find some of the books that immediately followed quite as alluring. This story takes place at a time of great conflict and anxiety across the globe. From the opening pages, I was reminded of how powerful and captivating her stories are and swiftly fell in love with her exquisite prose all over again, I mean, c’mon, even the book title is bewitching and evocative, and her ability to move me through her fiction; this is certainly a rarity for me.At many separate points I felt moved and felt myself tearing up a little which rarely happens when reading despite the number of books I read. There is so much detail and intricacy that everything was made all the more profound and the deft hand in which it is written fills you full of emotion. The cast comes alive on the page and are all beautifully defined and difficult to forget. She is one of those writers that when she gets it right she could be literally writing about anything, telling the most mundane tale in the world, and she would still have me riveted and hanging on her every word; I'd liken it a little to those lucky people who could leave home wearing a bin liner and still manage to put the rest of their friends to shame. A deeply affecting and moving story. Many thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC.
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  • Myrna
    January 1, 1970
    This was my second Isabel Allende book and it definitely won't be my last despite my three star rating. This novel started out strong, however, it read too much like a list of historical events with too many facts and not enough storyline. I cared more about the minor characters than the major ones. She did do a great job of blending fact with fiction. I found the historical aspects of this novel interesting and educational since this was a time period I knew little about. If you are a fan of This was my second Isabel Allende book and it definitely won't be my last despite my three star rating. This novel started out strong, however, it read too much like a list of historical events with too many facts and not enough storyline. I cared more about the minor characters than the major ones. She did do a great job of blending fact with fiction. I found the historical aspects of this novel interesting and educational since this was a time period I knew little about. If you are a fan of historical fiction, you might find this one interesting.
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  • Sharon Huether
    January 1, 1970
    After the Spanish Civil War the people were fleeing the country; many on foot. They climbed the mountains to the French border. Roser a pregnant widow and her husbands brother Victor Dalmau were among the thousands.They were able to charter a boat that took them to Chile with other refugees . This exile kept them safe from the war in Europe.The generations of the Dalmau family thrived and had a long life.I liked how the author's writing flowed.
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  • Hermien
    January 1, 1970
    Having been to Chile not so long ago, including a visit to Pablo Neruda's house in Valparaiso, I particularly enjoyed the historical aspect and setting of this book.
  • Jeanette
    January 1, 1970
    "But do you know what I'm most grateful for? Love. That has marked me more than anything else."Isabel Allende is at her finest in this sweeping historical family saga. It's a richly wrought story of hardship and exile and a relationship born of necessity that develops into a deep and abiding love. The author brings together the Spanish Civil War and the more recent history of Chile, where she grew up. The Chilean part of the novel becomes highly personal for her, as the historical record "But do you know what I'm most grateful for? Love. That has marked me more than anything else."Isabel Allende is at her finest in this sweeping historical family saga. It's a richly wrought story of hardship and exile and a relationship born of necessity that develops into a deep and abiding love. The author brings together the Spanish Civil War and the more recent history of Chile, where she grew up. The Chilean part of the novel becomes highly personal for her, as the historical record includes the political life and assassination of her father's cousin, the Marxist President Salvador Allende. (Said assassination of a duly elected leader brought about with a large measure of assistance from the U.S. government.)New information for me was the heroic efforts of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda in bringing many hundreds of Spanish refugees to Chile following the Spanish Civil War.
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  • Abbie | ab_reads
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars - full review to come!
  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    Three stars because it is Isabelle Allende, but overall, I'd really give it just two. I have loved so many of Isabelle Allende’s novels, but this one was a struggle for me, as I did not like the style of the writing. It read like a list of events, sprinkled here and there with bits of character development and plot. I could not connect to the characters because it felt like they took a backseat to the unfolding of historical events. There was too little emotion, too little real interaction Three stars because it is Isabelle Allende, but overall, I'd really give it just two. I have loved so many of Isabelle Allende’s novels, but this one was a struggle for me, as I did not like the style of the writing. It read like a list of events, sprinkled here and there with bits of character development and plot. I could not connect to the characters because it felt like they took a backseat to the unfolding of historical events. There was too little emotion, too little real interaction between the characters. I am disappointed, and frustrated, because when Allende remembers to pay attention to the story she is telling, and to the characters she’s introduced, the writing can be luminous and poetic, but there is too little of that to satisfy the reader looking to dive into the events through the eyes and lives of these characters.
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  • OLT
    January 1, 1970
    This is quite a story. Chilean-(Peruvian)-American Isabel Allende, one of Latin America's most internationally-known contemporary writers, takes us from 1938 Spain and the Spanish Civil War to Chile and the immigrant experience, complete with the political unrest there of the 1970s, ending her tale in 1994. The root causes of the Spanish Civil War are quite complicated and Allende doesn't try to explain much of this. Instead we get a vivid picture of the horror, tragedy, and life-altering This is quite a story. Chilean-(Peruvian)-American Isabel Allende, one of Latin America's most internationally-known contemporary writers, takes us from 1938 Spain and the Spanish Civil War to Chile and the immigrant experience, complete with the political unrest there of the 1970s, ending her tale in 1994. The root causes of the Spanish Civil War are quite complicated and Allende doesn't try to explain much of this. Instead we get a vivid picture of the horror, tragedy, and life-altering effects of war on regular people, bringing out the best in many and the worst in a few.To get her very agreeable historical and sociopolitical lessons across, Allende chooses two main protagonists to live the history: Victor Dalmau, Spanish medical student who leaves university to work as a medic for the left-wing Republican side during the war, and Roser Bruguera, musically-talented young woman whose life becomes tied to the Dalmau family and who becomes pregnant by Victor's brother Guillem. Guillem is killed in the war and Roser and Victor must flee Spain after the right-wing Nationalists, with the help of Fascist Germany and Italy, win and General Franco takes control of the country.To escape, Roser and Victor must enter into a marriage of convenience to qualify for a place on Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's chartered ship, the WINNIPEG, which is transferring 2000 Spanish war refugees to Chile.Once in Chile, although now safe from the brutalities of war, Roser and Victor and baby Marcel (Roser and Guillem's child) must learn to assimilate to life as immigrants in a new country. Victor, although with a left-wing socialist heart, tries to remain apolitical and devote himself to medicine, finally obtaining his medical degree at a Chilean university. Roser becomes a well-known pianist, even traveling internationally.You will observe their life, mainly in Chile, over the years from 1940 to 1994. The personal side, with the marriage of convenience gradually changing to one of real love, and their mutual love of Roser's son Marcel. But this isn't, at least for me, a love story. It's a story of struggle and suffering, endurance, overcoming difficulties, courage, adapting to what life hands out to you, hope, and the finding of contentment and feeling at home in one's life.I did not find this to be one of Allende's better books when judging its literary style and writing, since it reads mainly as a straightforward "telling" of what happens in the characters' lives. However, I enjoyed the telling tremendously, perhaps especially because once she got to the 1970s it became a tale of political turmoil I could relate to. In the early 1970s I moved to Peru as a young bride, when the country had recently been taken over by left-wing General Juan Velasco Alvarado. As a naive American, I'd never lived under a dictatorship before and it was an eye opener. And I well remember the coup of 1973 in neighboring Chile, when the right-wing military junta, led by General Pinochet, took over control of Chile. America's part in that coup was not well received in Latin America and should have been a lesson not to interfere in other countries, but, alas, it wasn't taken to heart.I've lived in countries under communist rule and in capitalist countries. IMO, they have one thing in common: The most powerful figures become richer and even more powerful. The poor and powerless usually remain that way. Allende's book is a lovely homage to the struggle to survive and to do the right thing. Her main characters succeeded admirably in that struggle.
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  • Heather Fineisen
    January 1, 1970
    A generational saga is Allende at her best. Starting with the Spanish Civil War, characters are created that the reader feels vested in. A doctor, a brother lost, a pregnant girlfriend, a family friend, a worrying mother. Real to life characters that are refugees to France and then Pablo Neruda and the Winnepeg carry refugees to Chile. There is so much factual information available for the creation of the family's story that some events are glossed over. Overall, this is a satisfying fact based A generational saga is Allende at her best. Starting with the Spanish Civil War, characters are created that the reader feels vested in. A doctor, a brother lost, a pregnant girlfriend, a family friend, a worrying mother. Real to life characters that are refugees to France and then Pablo Neruda and the Winnepeg carry refugees to Chile. There is so much factual information available for the creation of the family's story that some events are glossed over. Overall, this is a satisfying fact based novel and an above average read.Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley
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  • Maine Colonial
    January 1, 1970
    I read a free publisher's advance review copy.Allende fans, the first thing you should know is that this isn’t a magical realism novel of the kind she’s known for. It’s a historical novel, though focused on the effect of historical events on the people caught up in their tide.The story plays out over decades, starting in 1938 Spain, during the horrific Spanish Civil War sparked when the Nationalists (right-wing factions led by General Francisco Franco’s army group) revolted against the Second I read a free publisher's advance review copy.Allende fans, the first thing you should know is that this isn’t a magical realism novel of the kind she’s known for. It’s a historical novel, though focused on the effect of historical events on the people caught up in their tide.The story plays out over decades, starting in 1938 Spain, during the horrific Spanish Civil War sparked when the Nationalists (right-wing factions led by General Francisco Franco’s army group) revolted against the Second Spanish Republic. Allende’s descriptions of what it’s like to fight a war, sometimes street to street, with your own countrymen, stand out.Victor, a field medic for the Loyalists/Republicans survives, but his brother, Guillem, does not. Guillem leaves behind his pregnant girlfriend, Roser. When the Nationalists win the war, Victor and Roser are among those who escape to France. They marry to qualify to travel on a refugee ship to Chile, sponsored by the famous poet Pablo Neruda.To contrast with Victor and Roser, Allende gives us the Chilean del Solar family. Patriarch Isidro is a powerful industrialist, a conservative, while his wife is a religious fanatic. They epitomize the forces who support Franco back in Spain. But their children, Felipe and Ofelia, are more adventurous and become friends with Victor; tempestuously more than friends in Ofelia’s case.Over the years, Victor finishes his medical studies and becomes a prominent surgeon, while Roser successfully pursues a musical career. Their platonic relationship deepens into love.Then after decades of democratically elected governments—an anomaly in South America—the socialist Salvador Allende is elected. (Salvador Allende was Isabel Allende’s father’s first cousin.) This horrifies people like Isidro del Solar, and his side finds support from the Nixon administration in sponsoring a coup in 1973 and installing a violently repressive military junta led by dictator Augusto Pinochet. Once again, Victor and Roser find themselves on the wrong side of historical forces and nearly two decades go by before Chile is released from Pinochet’s iron grip. Allende carries the story through Victor and Roser’s old age, and even throws in a plot twist at the end. The focus throughout, though, is the persistence of the human spirit and the possibility of love in the face of great challenges.At times there is more telling than showing, but this is still an affecting and immersive novel.
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  • eyes.2c
    January 1, 1970
    Perhaps I was expecting too much. After all, all the ingredients are here for a masterful story. I've always been fascinated by the Spanish Civil War and that along with the undeniably talented author, was what drew me towards this title. Unfortunately I failed to connect with the characters and their journey as much as I'd anticipated. Disappointingly, The Long Petal waned somewhat for me.A Random House - Ballantine ARC via NetGalley
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  • Victoria Sadler
    January 1, 1970
    I think it’s been over a decade since I last read one of Isabel’s books. The House of the Spirits remains her masterclass and, many years ago, after I read that I threw myself into her writings. However, after a while I felt a bit exhausted by them – sentences that went on for pages and overdoses of magical realism left me a bit numb – so I wondered what I would find back in her world. I needn’t have worried as this new novel sees Isabel in top form blending the personal and political to I think it’s been over a decade since I last read one of Isabel’s books. The House of the Spirits remains her masterclass and, many years ago, after I read that I threw myself into her writings. However, after a while I felt a bit exhausted by them – sentences that went on for pages and overdoses of magical realism left me a bit numb – so I wondered what I would find back in her world. I needn’t have worried as this new novel sees Isabel in top form blending the personal and political to manifest the horrors and hope of life as a refugee. A contemporary subject, yes, but one that has a long history and A Long Petal of the Sea sees us follow a young idealistic couple through the ravages of the Spanish Civil War, the agony of rejection and concentration camps at the French border before escaping to a new life in Chile – only to find themselves caught up as political refugees in their new home as the spectre of military dictatorship rears its ugly head.Covering such an epic period of time could be onerous – after all, this book covers about 50 years and Isabel invests in weaving the lives of her fictional protagonists, Victor and Roser, with the likes of Salvador Allende and the Nobel Prize-wining Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. But Isabel’s writing is light, seeming to effortlessly dance across the years puncturing her beautiful prose with moments of real darkness as horrors of the Disappeared and atrocities are starkly realised.This story is one that I sense Isabel has long wanted to tell. The treatment of Spanish refugees at the end of the Spanish Civil War and their flight to Chile is not one that is well-known outside of the impacted communities. And, of course, it is a historical subject with agonising and telling overtones for today’s world too. But this is also a novel that examines the fallout of these social upheavals that shatter class boundaries and bring together communities and people who would never cross paths in more ordinary times.A surprisingly hopeful work that causes us to wrestle with themes such as the nature of ‘home’, the passage of time and the source of hope. I loved every minute of this, I really did. I flew through it.
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