Book Review: Violeta by Isabel Allende

About the Book:

One extraordinary woman.

One hundred years of history.

One unforgettable story.

Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first daughter in a family of five boisterous sons. From the start, her life is marked by extraordinary events. 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.

Told in the form of a letter to someone Violeta loves above all others, this is the story of a hundred-year life – of devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, poverty and wealth, terrible loss, and immense joy. Bearing witness to a century of history, it is a life shaped by the fight for women’s rights, the rise and fall of tyrants and, ultimately, not one but two pandemics.

Through the eyes of a woman whose unforgettable passion, determination and sense of humour will carry her through a lifetime of upheaval, Isabel Allende once more brings us an epic that is both fiercely inspiring and deeply emotional.

Published by Bloomsbury

Released 25th January 2022

My Thoughts:

‘I was born in 1920, during the influenza pandemic, and I’m going to die in 2020, during the outbreak of coronavirus. What an elegant name for such a terrible scourge. I’ve lived a century and I have a good memory, in addition to seventy-something diaries and thousands of letters as evidence of my passage through this world. I’ve witnessed many events, I’ve amassed a lot of experience, but either because I was too distracted or too busy, I haven’t acquired much wisdom. If reincarnation is real, I’ll have to return to Earth to make up for what I’m lacking. It’s a terrifying prospect. The world is paralysed, and humanity is in quarantine. It is a strange symmetry that I was born in one pandemic and will die during another.’

Few authors mean as much to me as Isabel Allende. I read my first novel by her in my early 20s (The House of Spirits) and I have fiercely loved her books since then. This means I have zero objectivity when it comes to reviewing her books because I love them all. She is a magnificent writer.

The style of Violeta is intimate and absorbing, reading like a letter/life story recount. It’s not until about two-thirds of the way through that we find out who Violeta is telling her story to. I like how that wasn’t held out until the end. As you would expect from Allende, this novel is so much more than the story of one woman, no matter how interesting and passionate and adventurous she was. This is a sweeping political and social history of Uruguay, Argentina, and Cuba. The turmoil and violent civil unrest that swept through Latin America throughout the 20th century is recounted through the lives of Violeta and her family and friends.

This is a novel that just gives and gives and gives some more right up until its beautiful last line. I had wondered how she was going to follow up on A Long Petal of the Sea, which totally blew my mind and shattered my heart, but I needn’t have dwelled on it. Violeta is just as wonderful, and just as absorbing. Of course, this gets five stars.


Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Violeta by Isabel Allende

  1. Pingback: Top 15 Books of my 2022 Reading Year | Theresa Smith Writes

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