The Sunday Times bestseller
'One of the strongest and most affecting works in Allende's long career' New York Times Book Review
'A defiantly warm and funny novel, by somebody who has earned the right to argue that love and optimism can survive whatever history might throw at us' Daily Telegraph
September 3, 1939, the day of the Spanish exiles' splendid arrival in Chile, the Second World War broke out in Europe.
Victor Dalmau is a young doctor when he is caught up in the Spanish Civil War, a tragedy that leaves his life – and the fate of his country – forever changed. Together with his sister-in-law, the pianist Roser, he is forced out of his beloved Barcelona and into exile.
When opportunity to seek refuge arises, they board a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda to Chile, the promised 'long petal of sea and wine and snow'. There, they find themselves enmeshed in a rich web of characters who come together in love and tragedy over the course of four generations, destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world.
A masterful work of historical fiction that soars from the Spanish Civil War to the rise and fall of Pinochet, A Long Petal of the Sea is Isabel Allende at the height of her powers.
'An epic that starts in 1939 and spans decades and continents . . . A masterful work of historical fiction about hope, exile and belonging, and one that sheds light on the way we live now' Independent.co.uk
'Full of ambition and humanity' Sunday Times
'Allende knows that all stories are love stories, and the greatest love stories are told by time' Colum McCann
'Allende's style is impressively Olympian and the payoff is remarkable' Guardian
'Epic in scope, yet intimate in execution' i
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
The Spanish Civil War has inspired some brilliant modern fiction (may we direct you to Jessie Burton’s slightly underrated The Muse) and legendary author Isabel Allende’s A Long Petal of the Sea feels like an important addition to that canon. It’s a sprawling achievement set across decades and seas that explores love, faith, and a sense of home. The two leads, both fleeing General Franco’s fascist regime, are unforgettable. Roser is young, pregnant and widowed. Her new husband—if only in name—is an army doctor and the brother of Roser’s one true love. The pair battle across continents, and as the perilous situations mount up, Allende’s writing becomes ever more graceful and deeply evocative.
Spanning from 1938 to 1994, this majestic novel from Allende (In the Midst of Winter) focuses on Victor Dalmau, a 23-year-old medical student fighting in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side when the novel opens. After Nationalist forces prevail, Victor and thousands of other Republican sympathizers flee Spain to avoid brutal reprisals. In France, he searches the packed refugee camps for Roser Bruguera, who is pregnant with his brother Guillem's child. Once he finds Roser, he breaks the news that Guillem has died in battle and that he has won a place on the Winnipeg, a ship that the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda has organized to transport Spanish refugees from Europe, where WWII is breaking out, to safety in Chile. Allowed to bring only family with him, Victor persuades Roser to marry him in name only. Though Victor has a brief, secret affair with well-off Ofelia del Solar, he begins to fall in love with Roser; they raise Roser's son, Marcel, together and build stable lives, he as a cardiologist and she as a widely respected musician. But when the Pinochet dictatorship unseats Chile's Marxist president in 1973, they find themselves once more endangered by their political views. Allende's assured prose vividly evokes her fictional characters, historical figures like Neruda, and decades of complex international history; her imagery makes the suffering of war and displacement palpable yet also does justice to human strength, hope and rebirth. Seamlessly juxtaposing exile with homecoming, otherness with belonging, and tyranny with freedom, the novel feels both timeless and perfectly timed for today.
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Chilean born. American citizen since mid-1990s. Cousin of Salvador Allende, the first Marxist president elected in a liberal democracy, who was deposed in coup d’etat by Pinochet and his mates from the CIA in 1973. Isabel is fluent in English but writes her fiction in Spanish. 20 published novels, of which Eva Luna (1987) is my favourite, as well as 4(?) non-fiction titles, and numerous magazine and newspaper articles. Host of prizes and awards, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom (2014).
Starts in the 1930s during the Spanish Civil War. A couple of republican refugees fleeing Franco’s fascists find themselves in a concentration camp in southern France, until they and 2200 of their mates are spirited off to Chile in the SS Winnipeg, a non-leaky boat chartered for the purpose by Pablo Neruda (Chilean poet and kind of a big deal in the world of arts and letters.) ‘A long petal of the sea’ is taken from one of his poems. The refugees are welcomed in Chile, but still face problems integrating. We follow them through till the 1970s and the ill-fated presidency of the above-mentioned cousin of the author.
The principals are Roser, a young pregnant widow, and Victor Dalmau, a medical student/army medic, plus their descendents and various hangers-on. Ms Allende made her name with family sagas, and she rediscovers her roots here.
Crisp, clear translation with the lyricism one expects from this author, but none of the magic realism (yaay!).
Fascinating insights into the Spanish Civil war from insiders rather than the international brigades. The Chilean history lesson that follows was less illuminating.