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
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Esquire • Good Housekeeping • Parade
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, Roser and Victor 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, the couple embraces exile as the rest of Europe erupts in world war. Starting over on a new continent, they face trial after trial, but they will also find joy as they patiently await the day when they might go home. 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
With its heartfelt themes about the immigrant’s journey, A Long Petal of the Sea is more than a poignant love story. The novel spans several decades—bookended by the Spanish Civil War and the 1973 Chilean coup—and follows Roser and Victor, two people brought together by circumstance, tragedy, and ultimately, love. We’re big fans of Isabel Allende’s classics, especially the magic realism–tinged The House of the Spirits, but this feels like her most intensely personal book. The president deposed in Chile’s coup, Salvador Allende, was the author’s godfather—and this book reminds us that it’s the memories we carry of those we’ve lost that preserve our past and give us faith in the future. As Roser and Victor journey across oceans, Allende seamlessly weaves massive real-world conflicts into the story. Her clear affection for her characters makes even the most epic moments feel intimate and special.
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.
This is a life saga, a sometimes savage & often heart-rending narrative of the plight of the refugee, told through these Spanish characters’ very personal experiences. The novel is certainly relevant to today & the suffering of political refugees everywhere; from inside a private story we can feel compassion for all who are forced to flee their homelands. Allende is a lean & compact storyteller rather than a weaver of evocative scenes or exploratory poetic language, but she still arouses emotion.
Very Proustian ….very well told story.
Engaging read. ………
An excellent family saga
Beautifully designed and written