Best selling international author, Isabel Allende tackles her homeland head-on in this staggering, epic romance. 'Portrait in Sepia' is both a magnificent historical novel set at the end of the nineteenth century in Chile and a marvellous family saga peopled by characters from 'Daughter of Fortune' and 'The House of the Spirits', two of Allende's ...Read MoreBest selling international author, Isabel Allende tackles her homeland head-on in this staggering, epic romance. 'Portrait in Sepia' is both a magnificent historical novel set at the end of the nineteenth century in Chile and a marvellous family saga peopled by characters from 'Daughter of Fortune' and 'The House of the Spirits', two of Allende's most celebrated novels. As a young girl, Aurora del Valle suffered a brutal trauma that has shaped her character and erased from her mind all recollection of the first five years of her life. Raised by her ambitious grandmother, the regal and commanding Paulina del Valle, she grows up in a privileged environment, free of the limitations that circumscribe the lives of women at that time, but tormented by terrible nightmares. When she finds herself alone at the end of an unhappy love affair, she decides to explore the mystery of her past, to discover what it was, exactly, all those years ago, that had such a devastating effect on her young life. Richly detailed, epic in scope, this engrossing story of the dark power of hidden secrets is intimate in its probing of human character, and thrilling in the way it illuminates the complexity of family ties.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 2001-07-16 HIn this third work concerning the various and intertwining lives of members of a Chilean family, Allende uses the metaphor of photography as memory. "Each of us chooses the tone for telling his or her own story; I would like to choose the durable clarity of a platinum print, but nothing in my destiny possesses that luminosity. I live among diffuse shadings, veiled mysteries, uncertainties; the tone for telling my life is closer to that of a portrait in sepia," declares Aurora del Valle, protagonist of the tale. Here, Allende picks up where 1999's Daughter of Fortune left off, and, in the course of her chronicles, mentions personages who were realized in her 1987 masterpiece, House of the Spirits. Like her other novels, Portrait in Sepia spans nearly 50 years and covers wars, love affairs, births, weddings and funerals. Rich and complex, this international, turn-of-the-century saga does not disappoint. The book opens as 30-year-old Aurora remembers her own birth, in the Chinatown of 1880 San Francisco. She tells of those present: her maternal, Chilean-English grandmother, Eliza; her grandfather Tao (a Chinese medic); and her mother, Lynn, a beloved beauty who dies during Aurora's birth. Realizing she is getting ahead of herself, Aurora backtracks, inviting the reader to be patient and listen to the events surrounding her life, from 1862 to 1910. Through Aurora, Allende exercises her supreme storytelling abilities, of which strong, passionate characters are paramount. Most memorable is Aurora's paternal grandmother, Paulina del Valle, an enormous woman who eats pastries and runs her trading company with equally reckless abandon. Like Paulina, Allende attacks her subject with gusto, making this a grand installment in an already impressive repertoire. Major ad/promo; 7-city author tour. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2001-03-11 At the heart of this literary portrait is memory. Chilean writer Allende's new novel, skillfully crafted as the eloquent memoir of Aurora del Valle, captivates with its lyrical prose. Its enchanting characters engage in a vigorous quest for life's passions and family truths. Allende closes a trilogy with this novel, continuing story lines and characters from Hija de la Fortuna (Daughter of Fortune) and La casa de los espíritus (The House of Spirits). Her tradition of braiding history and fiction through strong women characters is still intact. Framed by the social histories of San Francisco, CA, and Santiago, Chile, at the birth of the 20th century, Aurora's tale begins with her birth and flows forward and backward in time, piecing together the stories and secrets of her affluent Chilean family. Aurora recounts not only the family stories she needs for self-definition but also the history of her world's sociopolitical landscape: Chile's 1891 Civil War and the beginning of the California feminist movement and burgeoning xenophobia. This striking portrait highlights the nuanced shading of life's memories, which cannot be so easily forgotten. Already a best seller in Spain and Latin America, Allende's latest is highly recommended for all libraries and bookstores. [After July 3, Retrato will be available from Harper Rayo, ISBN 0-06-6211-60-3. Ed.] Silvia Heredia, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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