NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of The House of the Spirits, this epic novel spanning decades and crossing continents follows two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a place to call home.
“One of the most richly imagined portrayals of the Spanish Civil War to date, and one of the strongest and most affecting works in [Isabel Allende’s] long career.”—The New York Times Book Review
In the late 1930s, civil war grips Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them desires.
Together with two thousand other refugees, they embark on the SS Winnipeg, a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda, to Chile: “the long petal of sea and wine and snow.” As unlikely partners, they embrace exile as the rest of Europe erupts in world war. Starting over on a new continent, their trials are just beginning, and over the course of their lives, they will face trial after trial. But they will also find joy as they patiently await the day when they will be exiles no more. Through it all, their hope of returning to Spain keeps them going. Destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world, Roser and Victor will find that home might have been closer than they thought all along.
A masterful work of historical fiction about hope, exile, and belonging, A Long Petal of the Sea shows Isabel Allende at the height of her powers.
Praise for A Long Petal of the Sea
“Both an intimate look at the relationship between one man and one woman and an epic story of love, war, family, and the search for home, this gorgeous novel, like all the best novels, transports the reader to another time and place, and also sheds light on the way we live now.”—J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Saints for All Occasions
“This is 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. She knows that all stories are love stories, and the greatest love stories are told by time.”—Colum McCann, National Book Award–winning author of Let the Great World Spin
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Isabel Allende is no stranger to displacement. The best-selling author of the magic realism classic The House of the Spirits had to flee her native Chile in 1973, after the government led by her godfather, Salvador Allende, was deposed. Allende weaves that historical event into this multilayered, deeply moving romance. The story follows Victor and Roser—a couple who got married for survival, not love—as they escape the ravages of the Spanish Civil War and experience the hardships of exile after leaving for Chile on a refugee ship organized by poet Pablo Neruda. Neruda’s words introduce each chapter, and they are beautifully recited by narrator Edoardo Ballerini, an actor on The Sopranos. We were spellbound by this sweeping epic, which spans more than 80 years, several continents, and numerous oppressive governments. Allende masterfully combines history and fiction, making Victor and Roser’s immigrant journey vibrate with lived emotion. Listening to this audiobook reminded us that refugees’ lives consist of so much more than the horrors they’re escaping.