Man, I’ve wanted to read Isabel Allende in forever! I finally made time to read her upcoming release, Violeta. Thanks NetGalley and Ballantine Books for letting me read this one in advance.
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Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family of five boisterous sons. From the start, her life will be marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth.
Through her father’s prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses all and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling. . . .
She tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, times of both poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. Her life will be shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women’s rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and, ultimately, not one but two pandemics.
Told through the eyes of a woman whose unforgettable passion, determination, and sense of humor will carry her through a lifetime of upheaval, Isabel Allende once more brings us an epic that is both fiercely inspiring and deeply emotional.
Wow, there was a lot to this book. It’s the story of an entire lifetime, so there’s definitely a lot to get through!
I loved the beginning of Violeta. Her life as a child was so incredibly interesting, and I found myself feeling sad when the story continued and she was older. I loved the story of the woman who comes to her home as a nanny…their relationship is fascinating, and continues to be that way throughout the book.
While I was really engaged for about the first half of this book, the second half didn’t shine as brightly for me. It’s certainly an incredible story, and there’s no doubt that Isabel Allende is an experienced, immersive storyteller. I’ve heard good things about other books of hers (specifically A Long Petal of the Sea), and I would like to pick up one of those.
Violeta, though, gets a little bit too mired in politics for me. I enjoyed reading about the politics of a region I don’t know as much about, but the story got too focused there for me, with longer descriptions about what was going on with the politics in multiple countries. I like a side of politics with my stories…this verged too far into the political content for me.
That said, the fact that Allende fit this whole beautiful life into one book is pretty amazing, and just further shows what kind of an experienced storyteller she is. That part worked for me, as there weren’t any gaps that were too big or storylines/relationships that get lost. Super impressed with the whole layout of the story.
So, while I was really into the story at times, I got a bit bored at other times. Overall it’s a good read, and I’d like to pick up another of Allende’s books very soon. 3.5 stars from me for Violeta.