Saturday, June 5, 2010

Isabel Allende "Eva Luna"

This is the first Isabel Allende novel I have read.  Allende is a Chilean novelist.  Eva Luna was first published in 1985 and is translated from the original Spanish.  The story is set in an unidentified South American country and follows the adventures of orphaned Eva.  Set against a backdrop of political unrest and upheaval,  Eva who is born into poverty and uncertainty, uses her talent as a story teller to deal with the tragedy and oppression that besets her early life.

This is a very readable and enjoyable novel.  The strength of the story lies in the world Allende creates.  She makes ordinary things seem extraordinary and magical.  This mirrors Eva's own internal world where she finds strength in the midst  of poverty and danger, by summoning up spirits and stories from her past to envelop and protect her.

Several themes are explored in Eva Luna.  Perhaps most central is the plight of women in countries where there is political instability.   Allende skillfully explores issues of gender, poverty and identity.  Despite these serious themes, there is nothing depressing or preachy about Eva Luna.  At the heart of the novel is Eva's ability, through story telling, to strengthen her own resolve and enchant those she meets.

I did not feel especially connected to Eva or any of the characters, but what kept me involved with the story were the different worlds that Eva inhabits which in turn inform her internal world and dream scape.   These include the hot, noisy and filthy city; the dusty, lonely town and the wet, luscious jungle.  There is a joyful earthiness to Allende's writing that is truly captivating.  Her style is both mythical and visceral, and totally transports the reader to another world.  Surely this is the hallmark of a true story teller.  I look forward to diving into Isabel Allende's other novels.


  1. Oh! I wish I was an Allende novice. She is one of my favourite authors, if not my favourite author of all time.

    I love everything about her stories, with my whole heart. The langauge, the story the characters, the sagas! Amazing, brilliant and every other similar word is all I can think when I hear the name Allende.

    I am slowly working my way through all of her books. Keep going with the fiction before you read the non-fiction, it gives the fiction a whole new perspetive. I would particuarly recommend Zorro and Ines of my Soul.

    I reviewed her very first novel, the House of Spirits here

    The review isn't great because it was one of the first reviews I did when I started blogging.

    I also did a feature on Isabel Allende here

    I know I am probably being overly enthusiastic, but I love Isabel Allende :-)

  2. Thanks Becky I will follow your recommendations in terms of where to go next with Allende.

    Also I just read your review of House of Spirits and really enjoyed it.

    Finally I don't think it is possible to be too enthusiastic about the authors we love. I am new to the whole blogging thing but I think being enthusiastic when we feel the need is one of the best things about it :-)


Comments are very welcome.