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'A powerful love story spanning generations… Full of ambition and humanity' - Sunday Times
'One of the strongest and most affecting works in Allende's long career' - New York Times Book Review
On 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.
'A masterful work of historical fiction about hope, exile and belonging' - Independent Online
'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
'A grand storyteller who writes with surpassing compassion and insight. Her place as an icon of world literature was secured long ago' - Khaled Hosseini
'A novel not just for those of us who have been Allende fans for decades, but also for those who are brand new to her work: what a joy it must be to come upon Allende for the first time' - Colum McCann
'Allende's style is impressively Olympian and the payoff is remarkable' - Guardian
'Epic in scope, yet intimate in execution' - i
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.