Chile – A long petal of the sea

Chile – A long petal of the sea

Isabel Allende: A Long Petal of the Sea (Largo pétalo de mar) (PLAZA & JANÉS 2019)

Many thanks to Geopen Könyvkadó for sending me the book!

Isabel Allende is a relative of the late Chilean president, Salvador Allende, and the most read Spanish-language author. The family exiled to Venezuela after a military coup against President Allende. She wrote her first novel, The House of the Spirits (1982), from letters sent to her grandfather in exile, with which she gained world fame. She has received prestigious literary awards for her books, but she also takes on a political role and assists the work of the United Nations. A Long Petal of the Sea is her latest novel.

In this story, we follow the life of Víctor Dalmau and his family from 1938 to 1994. After escaping the horrors of the Spanish Civil War to Chile with the help of the poet Pablo Neruda, aboard the “ship of hope”, Winnipeg (this ship can be seen on the cover of the book), they find a home in this “spindling South American country,” but unfortunately, they can’t escape history and are forced to emigrate again because of the retaliation that followed the coup.

The characters in the story are fictional, but the events and historical figures are real. At the beginning of each chapter, we can read a quote from a poem by Pablo Neruda. In my opinion, the story and the author’s style show close resemblance to Hemingway’s. One of the most important messages of the book is where our real homes are. The actors are forced to emigrate several times and must live in a new country, but they can always move on, leave the past behind and look ahead into the future. The other very important message is the thing that makes us human is love.

I will definitely read more works from the writer.