Book review – The House of the Spirits

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende 


Isabel Allende writes beautiful magical novels and is one of my favourite authors. The House of the Spirits was her first novel, published in 1982. It is a wide sweeping novel that spuns several generations with a number of voices telling the history of a Chilean family. It begins with the child Clara del Valle and it is through her journals that the story is initially told. Esteban Trueba also contributes to the story and we are given a picture of Chilean life in the early 1900s, with all its strange mixture of life, love, happiness, death, terror and violence. We discover much later that the narrator is Alba Trueba, granddaughter of Clara and Esteban.

Suddenly we are in the time of revolution in Chile and Alba is caught on the wrong side of the military takeover. I found these last few chapters to be harrowing with their detailed description of the things that happened to Alba. But I came to realise that the novel is a metaphor of what happened to Chile in 1960s and 70s and how Isabel Allende’s own family was affected by the revolution. On top of her own personal experiences I feel that the rape of Alba reflected how Isabel Allende felt about her country being raped by the rebels.


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