Allende, Isabel 1942-

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Allende, Isabel 1942-


Surname is pronounced "Ah-yen-day"; born August 2, 1942, in Lima, Peru; daughter of Tomas (a Chilean diplomat) and Francisca Allende; married Miguel Frias (an engineer), September 8, 1962 (divorced, 1987); married William Gordon (a lawyer), July 17, 1988; children: (first marriage) Paula (deceased), Nicolas; Scott (stepson). Ethnicity: Hispanic. Education: Educated privately.


Home—San Rafael, CA. Agent—Carmen Balcells, Diagonal 580, Barcelona 21, Spain.


United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, Santiago, Chile, secretary, 1959-65; Paula magazine, Santiago, journalist, editor, and advice columnist, 1967-74; Mampato magazine, Santiago, journalist, 1969-74; television interviewer for Canal 13/Canal 7 (television station), 1970-75; worked on movie newsreels, 1973-78; El Nacional, Caracas, Venezuela, journalist, 1974-75, columnist, 1976-83; Colegio Marroco, Caracas, administrator, 1979-82; writer. Guest teacher at Montclair State College, Montclair, NJ, spring, 1985, and University of Virginia, fall, 1988; Gildersleeve Lecturer, Barnard College, spring, 1988; teacher of creative writing, University of California, Berkeley, spring, 1989.


Panorama Literario Award (Chile), 1983; Grand Prix d'Evasion (France), 1984; Author of the Year and Book of the Year Awards (Germany), 1984; Point de Mire (Belgium), 1985; Colima Award for Best Novel (Mexico), 1985; Author of the Year Award (Germany), 1986; Quality Paperback Book Club New Voice Award nomination, 1986, for The House of the Spirits; Los Angeles Times Book Prize nomination, 1987, for Of Love and Shadows; XV Premio Internazionale (Italy), and Mulheres best foreign novel award (Portugal), 1987; Eva Luna was named one of Library Journal's Best Books of 1988, awarded an American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation, 1989, Freedom to Write Pen Club Award, 1991, and XLI Bancarella Literature Award (Italy), and Brandeis University Major Book Collection Award, both 1993; inductee, Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France, 1994; inductee, Academia de Artes y Ciencias, Puerto Rico, 1995; Willa Literary Award, 2000, for Daughter of Fortune; Excellence in International Literature and Arts Award, 2002; Nopal Award, CalPoly Pomona, CA, 2003; Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service for Literature, USA, 2004; appointed ambassador to the Hans Christian Andersen Bicentenary, Copenhagen, 2004; Latino Literacy Now, 2004; inductee, American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2004. Honorary degrees include: Doctor of Letters at New York State University, 1991, Doctor of Letters at Bates College, 1994, Doctor of Letters at Dominican College, 1994, Doctor of Humane Letters at Florida Atlantic University, 1996, Doctor of Letters at Columbia College Chicago, 1996, Honorary Degree at Lawrence University, 2000, Honorary Degree at Mills College, 2000, Honorary Degree at Illinois Wesleyan University, 2002.


Civilice a su troglodita: Los impertinentes de Isabel Allende (humor), Editorial Lord Cochran (Santiago, Chile), 1974.

La Casa de los espíritus (novel), Plaza y Janés (Barcelona, Spain), 1982, HarperLibros (New York, NY), 1995, translation by Magda Bogin published as The House of the Spirits, Knopf (New York, NY), 1985.

La Gorda de porcelana (juvenile; title means "The Fat Porcelain Lady"), Alfaguara (Madrid, Spain), 1984.

De amor y de sombra (novel), Plaza y Janés (Barcelona, Spain), 1984, HarperLibros (New York, NY), 1995, translation by Margaret Sayers Peden published as Of Love and Shadows, Knopf (New York, NY), 1987.

Eva Luna (novel,) translation by Margaret Sayers Peden published under same title, Knopf (New York, NY), 1988, HarperLibros (New York, NY), 1995.

Cuentos de Eva Luna (stories), Plaza y Janés (Barcelona, Spain), 1990, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995, translation by Margaret Sayers Peden published as The Stories of Eva Luna, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1991.

El Plan infinito (novel), Editorial Sudamericana (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1991, translation by Margaret Sayers Peden published as The Infinite Plan, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.

Paula (autobiography), Plaza y Janés (Barcelona, Spain), 1994, translation by Margaret Sayers Peden, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995.

(With others) Salidas de madre, Planeta (Santiago, Chile), 1996.

Afrodita: Cuentos, recetas y otros afrodisiacos, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1997, translation by Margaret Sayers Peden published as Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses, HarperFlamingo (New York, NY), 1998.

Hija de la fortuna (novel), Plaza y Janés (Barcelona, Spain), 1999, translation by Margaret Sayers Peden published as Daughter of Fortune, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.

(And author of foreword) Conversations with Isabel Allende, edited by John Rodden, translations from the Spanish by Virginia Invernizzi and from the German and Dutch by John Rodden, University of Texas (Austin, TX), 1999.

Retrato en sepia, Plaza y Janés (Barcelona, Spain), 2000, translation by Margaret Sayers Peden published as Portrait in Sepia, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Periodismo En Primera Persona, El Mercurio/Aguilar (Santiago, Chile), 2001.

Mi país inventado, Areté (Barcelona, Spain), 2003, translation by Margaret Sayers Peden published as My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

William Morris: Mazorca: Objects of Common Ceremony, Marquand Books (Seattle, WA), 2004.

Zorro, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden, HarperCollins (New York, NY) 2005.

Inés del Alma Mia (novel), Sudamericana (Buenos Aires, Argentina), translation by Margaret Sayers Peden published as Inés of My Soul, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.

Young Zorro: The Iron Brand (juvenile novel), Rayo/HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.

Author of several plays and stories for children. Also contributor to Los Libros tienen sis propios espíritus: Estudios sobre Isabel Allende, edited by Marcello Coddou, Universidad Veracruzana, 1986; Paths of Resistance: The Art and Craft of the Political Novel, edited by William Zinsser, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1989; and El Amor: Grandes escritores latinoamericanos, Ediciones Instituto Movilizador, 1991.


La Ciudad de las bestias, Rayo (New York, NY), 2002, translation by Margaret Sayers Peden published as City of the Beasts, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

El Reino del dragón de oro, Montena Mondadori (Barcelona, Spain), translation by Margaret Sayers Peden published as Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

El bosque de los Pigmeos, Rayo (New York, NY), 2004, translation by Margaret Sayers Peden published as Forest of the Pygmies, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.


The House of the Spirits was filmed in English by Bille August in 1993, starring Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Antonio Banderas, and Vanessa Redgrave. Allende's young adult trilogy has been optioned for adaptation by Walden Media. Eva Luna and Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses have been optioned for motion pictures. The House of the Spirits, Eva Luna, Stories of Eva Luna, and Paula have been adapted for the theater.


When Chilean President Salvador Allende was assassinated in 1973 as part of a military coup against his socialist government, it had a profound effect on his niece, novelist Isabel Allende. "I think I have divided my life [into] before that day and after that day," Allende told Publishers Weekly interviewer Amanda Smith. "In that moment, I realized that everything was possible—that violence was a dimension that was always around you." At first, Allende and her family did not believe that a dictatorship could last in Chile; they soon found it too dangerous to remain in the country, however, and fled to Venezuela. Although she had been a noted journalist in Chile, Allende found it difficult to get a job in Venezuela and did not write for several years; but after receiving word from her grandfather, a nearly one-hundred-year-old man who had remained in Chile, she began to write again in a letter to him. "My grandfather thought people died only when you forgot them," the author explained to Harriet Shapiro in People. "I wanted to prove to him that I had forgotten nothing, that his spirit was going to live with us forever." Allende never sent the letter to her grandfather, who soon died, but her memories of her family and her country became the genesis of The House of the Spirits, her first novel. "When you lose everything, everything that is dear to you … memory becomes more important," Allende commented to Mother Jones writer Douglas Foster. With The House of the Spirits, the author added: "[I achieved] the recovery of those memories that were being blown by the wind, by the wind of exile."

Following three generations of the Trueba family and their domestic and political conflicts, The House of the Spirits "is a novel of peace and reconciliation, in spite of the fact that it tells of bloody, tragic events," claimed New York Times Book Review contributor Alexander Coleman. "The author has accomplished this not only by plumbing her memory for the familial and political textures of the continent, but also by turning practically every major Latin American novel on its head," the critic continued. The patriarch of the family, Esteban Trueba, is a strict, conservative man who exploits his workers and allows his uncompromising beliefs to distance him from his wife and children, even in the face of tremendous events.

Allende's grand scope and use of fantastic elements and characters have led many critics to place The House of the Spirits in the tradition of the Latin American novel of "magic realism," and they compare it specifically to Nobel-winner Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. "Allende has her own distinctive voice, however," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer; "while her prose lacks the incandescent brilliance of the master's, it has a whimsical charm, besides being clearer, more accessible and more explicit about the contemporary situation in South America." In contrast, Village Voice contributor Enrique Fernandez believed that "only the dullest reader can fail to be distracted by the shameless cloning from One Hundred Years of Solitude…. Allende writes like one of the many earnest minor authors that began aping Gabo after his success, except she's better at it than most." "Allende is very much under the influence of Gabriel García Márquez, but she is scarcely an imitator," remarked Washington Post Book World critic Jonathan Yardley, concluding that "she is most certainly a novelist in her own right and, for a first novelist, a startlingly skillful, confident one."

While The House of the Spirits contains some of the magic realism so characteristic of late-twentieth-century Latin-American fiction, it is counterbalanced by the political realities that Allende recounts. Times Literary Supplement reviewer Antony Beevor stated that whereas the early chapters of The House of the Spirits seem "to belong firmly in the school of magical realism," a closer reading "suggests that Isabel Allende's tongue is lightly in her cheek. It soon becomes clear that she has taken the genre to flip it over," the critic elaborated. "The metaphorical house, the themes of time and power, the machista violence and the unstoppable merry-go-round of history: all of these are reworked and then examined from the other side—from a woman's perspective." Other critics, however, faulted Allende for trying to combine the magical and the political. Richard Eder of the Los Angeles Times Book Review felt that the author "rarely manages to integrate her magic and her message," while Nation contributor Paul West wrote that the political story is "the book Allende probably wanted to write, and would have had she not felt obliged to toe the line of magical realism." But others maintained that the contrast between the fantastic and political segments is effective, as Harriet Waugh of Spectator explained: "[The] magic gradually dies away as a terrible political reality engulfs the people of the country. Ghosts, the gift of foretelling the future and the ability to make the pepper and salt cellars move around the dining-room table cannot survive terror, mass-murder and torture."

Although The House of the Spirits includes political approaches similar to other Latin-American works, it also contains "an original feminist argument that suggests [a] women's monopoly on powers that oppose the violent ‘paternalism’ from which countries like Chile continue to suffer," according to Chicago Tribune contributor Bruce Allen. Alberto Manguel likewise considered important Allende's "depiction of woman as a colonial object," as he wrote in the Toronto Globeand Mail, a depiction reinforced by Esteban Trueba's cruel treatment of his wife, daughter, and female workers. But despite the concentration on female characters and "the fact that Esteban rapes, pillages, kills and conspires, he never entirely loses the reader's sympathy," commented Waugh. "It is a remarkable achievement to make the old monster lovable not just to his wife, daughter, and granddaughter, and the other women in his life, but also to the reader," Philip Howard contended in the London Times. "It is a fair-minded book, that pities and understands people on both sides of the politics." Allen concurred: "The most remarkable feature of this remarkable book is the way in which its strong political sentiments are made to coexist with its extravagant and fascinating narrative…. Despite its undeniable debt to One Hundred Years of Solitude," the critic concluded: The House of the Spirits "is an original and important work; along with García Márquez's masterpiece, it's one of the best novels of the postwar period, and a major contribution to our understanding of societies riddled by ceaseless conflict and violent change. It is a great achievement, and it cries out to be read."

With Of Love and Shadows, which Detroit Free Press contributor Anne Janette Johnson called "a frightening, powerful work," Allende "proves her continued capacity for generating excellent fiction. She has talent, sensitivity, and a subject matter that provides both high drama and an urgent political message." The novel begins "matter-of-factly, almost humorously," with the switching of two identically named babies, as Charles R. Larson described it in the Detroit News. The story becomes more complex, however, when one of the babies grows up to become the focus of a journalist's investigation; after a reporter and photographer expose the political murder of the girl, they are forced to flee the country. "And so," Larson observed, "Allende begins with vignettes of magical realism, only to pull the rug out from under our feet once we have been hooked by her enchanting tale. What she does, in fact, is turn her story into a thriller." "Love and struggle a la Casablanca—it's all there," Gene H. Bell-Villada likewise stated in the New York Times Book Review. "Allende skillfully evokes both the terrors of daily life under military rule and the subtler form of resistance in the hidden corners and ‘shadows’ of her title." But while political action comprises a large part of the story, "above all, this is a love story of two young people sharing the fate of their historical circumstances, meeting the challenge of discovering the truth, and determined to live their life fully, accepting their world of love and shadows," Christian Science Monitor reviewer Marjorie Agosin declared. With Of Love and Shadows "Allende has mastered the craft of being able to intertwine the turbulent political history of Latin America with the everyday lives of her fictional characters caught up in recognizable, contemporary events."

"Fears that Isabel Allende might be a ‘one-book’ writer, that her first success … would be her only one, ought to be quashed by Eva Luna," asserted Abigail E. Lee in the Times Literary Supplement. "The eponymous protagonist and narrator of this, her third novel, has an engaging personality, a motley collection of interesting acquaintances and an interesting angle on political upheavals in the unnamed Latin-American republic in which she lives." Born illegitimate and later orphaned, Eva Luna becomes a scriptwriter and storyteller who becomes involved with a filmmaker—Rolf Carle, an Austrian emigré haunted by his Nazi father—and his subjects, a troop of revolutionary guerrillas. "In Eva Luna, Allende moves between the personal and the political, between realism and fantasy, weaving two exotic coming-of-age stories—Eva Luna's and Rolf Carle's—into the turbulent coming of age of her unnamed South American country," Elizabeth Benedict summarized in Chicago's Tribune Books. Switching between the stories of the two protagonists, Eva Luna is "filled with a multitude of characters and tales," recounted Washington Post Book World contributor Alan Ryan. Allende's work is "a remarkable novel," the critic elaborated, "one in which a cascade of stories tumbles out before the reader, stories vivid and passionate and human enough to engage, in their own right, all the reader's attention and sympathy."

Perhaps due to this abundance of stories and characters, John Krich thought that "few of the cast of characters emerge as distinctive or entirely believable," as he commented in the New York Times Book Review. "Too often, we find Eva Luna's compatriots revealed through generalized attributions rather than their own actions…. Is this magic realism à la García Márquez or Hollywood magic à la Judith Krantz? We can only marvel at how thin the line becomes between the two, and give Ms. Allende the benefit of the doubt." London Times writer Stuart Evans, however, praised Allende's "range of eccentric or idiosyncratic characters who are always credible," and added: "Packed with action, prodigal in invention, vivid in description and metaphor, this cleverly plotted novel is enhanced by its flowing prose and absolute assurance." "Eva Luna is a great read that El Nobel [García Márquez] couldn't hope to write," claimed Dan Bellm in the Voice Literary Supplement, for the women "get the best political debate scenes, not the men." Lee also saw a serious political side to the novel, noting "an interesting juxtaposition in Eva Luna of feminism and revolutionary politics…. In all the depictions of women and their relationships with men, though, one feels not a militant or aggressive feminism—rather a sympathetic awareness of the injustices inherent in traditional gender roles." The critic continued, remarking that Eva Luna "is an accomplished novel, skillfully blending humour and pathos; its woman's perspective on Latin American is a refreshing one, but it is enjoyable above all for its sensitivity and charm." "Reading this novel is like asking your favorite storyteller to tell you a story and getting a hundred stories instead of one … and then an explanation of how the stories were invented … and then hearing the storyteller's life as well," concluded Ryan. "Does it have a happy ending? What do you think?"

Daughter of Fortune differs from Allende's previous works in that it moves away from Chile and takes place in the setting of the 1849 California gold rush. The novel also includes a greater cultural mix than her previous works, with British, American, and Chinese characters. The main character, Eliza Somers, who spends several years disguised as a boy, raises questions about the nature of gender and identity, according to Sophia A. McClennan in the Review of Contemporary Fiction. Cecilia Novella remarked in Amerícas that Allende "provides us with a masterly description of that part of North America that was to become California at the height of the gold rush, painting a vivid picture of boisterous activity, chaos, avarice, unrelieved drudgery, and the broad range of lifestyles, habits and dissolute ways of those drawn there by the gleaming precious metal."

Portrait in Sepia tells the story of Aurora del Valle, who is filled with questions about the mysterious beginnings of her life. When she is five years old, she is sent to live with her grandmother, Paulina, who previously appeared in Daughter of Fortune. Paulina, who is wealthy and powerful, provides for her every material need but refuses to answer her questions about the past. Her confusion lingers until adulthood, and perhaps drives her to art: she is a talented photographer. After Paulina dies, she feels more free to explore her own and her family's past, examining her memories as well as those of relatives. At the end of the novel, Allende reveals that one of Aurora's cousins is Clara del Valle, a character from The House of the Spirits. Thus, as Teresa R. Arrington noted in World Literature Today, "Allende has produced two prequels years after the original novel, thus forming a chronologically out-of-sequence trilogy. The three novels represent a transnational saga that shows us how major historical events across the world can affect the lives of several generations of an extended Chilean family." In Book, Beth Kephart observed: "Allende's imagination is a spectacle unto itself—she infects her readers with her own colossal dreams."

In City of the Beasts Allende departed from her previous works for adults and wrote a story for young adults. In Booklist, she told Hazel Rochman: "The idea of writing for young adults wasn't mine; it was something that my three grandchildren had been asking me to do for a long time." Alexander Cold, the main character in the novel, was modeled after Allende's grandson, Alejandro Frias. Another character, Nadia Santos, was inspired by her two granddaughters, Andrea and Nicole. In the novel, Alexander is sent to stay with his grandmother in the Amazon while his mother receives chemotherapy in Texas. His grandmother is researching a mysterious "beast" that is terrifying everyone in the jungle, and she is part of a group of adventurers that includes a self-centered professor, some photographers, a government doctor, soldiers, local tribespeople, and a guide, Cesar Santos, who brings his daughter, Nadia. Alexander and Nicole must face dangers both physical and supernatural and struggle with both good and evil, but through shamanic techniques taught by the local tribe, they find their own inner strength and emerge transformed. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented of City of the Beasts: "Reluctant readers may be intimidated by the thickness of this volume, but the plot moves at a rapid pace, laced with surprises and ironic twists." The reviewer then examined Allende's creation process: "The action and the outcome seem preordained, cleverly crafted to deliver the moral, but many readers will find the author's formula successful with its environmentalist theme, a pinch of the grotesque, and a larger dose of magic."

Allende furthered her young adult trilogy with Kingdom of the Golden Dragon. Here Alexander and Nadia team up with grandmother Kate and International Geographic journalists searching the Himalayas for an artifact called the Golden Dragon, which has magical powers. What they do not know, however, is that agents of a powerful and wealthy man are also scouring the Forbidden Kingdom for this same artifact. A critic for Kirkus Reviews found Kingdom of the Golden Dragon a "clunky sequel," and Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman had a similar assessment, finding that "contrived coincidence goes far beyond the magical realism." Praise for the title, however, came from School Library Journal reviewer Susan L. Rogers, who commended the novel's "empathetic young characters; exciting adventures; and an intelligent, sympathetic look at cultures, customs, and creatures of a remote and fairly unknown area." Similarly, a Publishers Weekly writer concluded: "[Allende's] complex heroes, suspenseful tests of courage and the mystic aura that surrounds the story add depth and excitement to a classic battle of good versus evil."

In the concluding volume of the trilogy, Forest of the Pygmies, Alex and Nadia once more team up with grandmother Kate and the International Geographic crew to travel to Africa, there to try and save Pygmies from enslavement by a hideous master. Booklist contributor Rochman complained that Allende's "constant use of convenient magical realism removes all tension from the plot." However, Kliatt critic Paula Rohrlick saw this differently, though, concluding that the novel is a "tense tale [that] has memorable characters and lots of action and excitement along with elements of magical realism."

Allende's 2003 work My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile is a memoir. The book examines Chile and Allende's place in it closely, tracing her relationship to the country and its people since the September 11, 1973, military coup that overthrew Chile's democracy. She relates stories of her family, historical tales of Chile, and considers how the country has influenced her writing. Allende "paints a fascinating picture of an unusual country," stated Gloria Maxwell in Library Journal. "She is unflinchingly honest about detailing Chilean adherence to a class system, the people's fixation with machismo, and their inherent conservatism and clannishness." Allende had a rich source of material at her disposal for the crafting of this book. "Each country has its customs, its manias, its complexes," she writes. "I know the idiosyncrasies of mine like the back of my hand." Another Library Journal reviewer, Sheila Kasperek, observed that My Invented Country "provides a fuller understanding of her works," and in Booklist, Donna Seaman maintained that "Allende's conjuring of her ‘invented,’ or imaginatively remembered, country is riveting in its frankness and compassion, and her account of why and how she became a writer is profoundly moving."

Allende surprised her critics and readers alike with her 2005 novel, Zorro, a retelling of the swashbuckling hero first introduced by writer Johnston McCulley in 1919. As Charles Matthews noted in the San Jose Mercury News, "Allende's Zorro has all the familiar accouterments and accomplishments: cape, mask and sword—and the ability to use it to zip-slash the letter Z into various surfaces—along with the agility of a Cirque du Soleil acrobat." Matthews went on to note that Allende gives the back story to Zorro with this novel that is "colorfully imagined and excitingly plotted." Allende's Zorro is the product of an unlikely marriage between a dashing Spanish military man, Captain Alejandro de la Vega and an Indian woman of uncommon fighting skill, Toypurnia, who transforms herself into the elegant Regina Mara de la Inmaculada Concepcion. These two, living in the region that is now Los Angeles in the 1790s, have a son, Diego, who is schooled in shamanic practices and is sent to Spain from the New World to complete his education in swordsmanship and gentlemanly endeavors. During his time in Spain, Diego, accompanied by a blood brother, Bernardo, also apprentices with a Gypsy circus, learning acrobatic skills, and joins a secret society to do good acts. Thereafter he develops the disguise of Zorro. Writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sandy Bauers found the novel "fun," noting that it "makes for a swashbuckling summer read, complete with dastardly villains, beautiful maidens who need protecting and even, just for good measure, an aristocratic pirate." A more mixed assessment came from New York Times Book Review critic Max Byrd, who praised Allende's "long, sweeping paragraphs that dance with energy" and her prose that is "casually sensuous," but also complained of "a one-dimensional Zorro who is merely, as even his closest friend admits, ‘an eternal adolescent.’" Higher praise, however, came from Booklist contributor Brad Hooper, who felt that "Allende's mesmerizing narrative voice never loses timbre or flags in either tension or entertainment value," and from Library Journal reviewer Misha Stone, who concluded that Allende is "a beguiling storyteller, and Zorro provides a rich palate for her customary embellishments."

With her 2006 novel, Inés of My Soul, Allende is once again on more familiar ground, blending history and feminism to tell the story of Inés Suarez, often called the mother of Chile. This sixteenth-century historical figure was born in a poor Spanish village in 1509, and made a new life for herself in the new world, becoming the mistress of the Chilean governor and helping to battle Native Americans who besieged the capital of Santiago. As a Kirkus Reviews critic noted, Inés Suarez's life was "was full of daring, intrigue and passionate romance." However, for this same critic Al- lende's novel missed much of that adventure, devolving instead into "turgid and detached homework masquerading as epic." Similarly, Jennifer Reese, writing in Entertainment Weekly, thought that Allende's novel was a "bodice ripper" that "turn[s] a truly extraordinary life story into a forgettable, easy-reading romp." A more positive assessment was delivered by a Publishers Weekly contributor who noted: "Allende crafts a swift, thrilling epic, packed with fierce battles and passionate romance." Likewise, Amber Haq, writing in Newsweek International, termed Inés of My Soul "a powerfully evocative narrative," and concluded: "Allende inspires women everywhere with the true story of one who wouldn't be tamed, who knew her own power and lived to taste its glory." New York Times Book Review critic Maggie Galehouse felt that "Allende succeeds in resurrecting a woman from history and endowing her with the gravitas of a hero."

Allende has shared many memories, both real and fictional, with her readers. She has examined political issues, related stories of her "interesting" childhood, enthralled readers with magical ideas, and shared the beauties of her homeland. The large topical span of Allende's writings makes it difficult to classify the author as a particular type. However, when San Francisco Chronicle writer Heather Knight asked Allende how she would like to be remembered after her death, Allende did not mention any of her acclaimed books. Instead, she responded: "I'd like to be remembered by my grandchildren as a grandma who gave them unconditional love, stories, and laughter."



Allende, Isabel, Paula, Plaza y Janés (Barcelona, Spain), 1994, translation by Margaret Sayers Peden, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995.

Allende, Isabel, My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

Bloom, Harold, editor, Isabel Allende, Chelsea House (Philadelphia, PA), 2003.

Coddou, Marcelio, editor, Los Libros tienen sus propios espíritus: Estudios sobre Isabel Allende, Universidad Veracruzana (Veracruz, Mexico), 1986.

Contemporary Hispanic Biography, Volume 1, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2003.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 39, 1986, Volume 57, 1990, Volume 97, 1997.

Feal, Rosemary G., and Yvette E. Miller, editors, Isabel Allende Today: An Anthology of Essays, Latin American Literary Review Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 2002.

Hart, Patricia, Narrative Magic in the Fiction of Isabel Allende, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (Teaneck, NJ), 1989.

Levine, Linda Gould, Isabel Allende, Twayne Publishers (New York, NY), 2002.

Lindsay, Claire, Locating Latin American Women Writers: Cristina Peri Rossi, Rosario Ferré, Albalucía, and Isabel Allende, Peter Lang (New York, NY), 2003.

Postlewate, Marisa Herrera, How and Why I Write: Redefining Women's Writing and Experience, Peter Lang (New York, NY), 2004.

Ramblado-Minero, Maria de la Cinta, Isabal Allende's Writing of the Self: Trespassing the Boundaries of Fiction and Autobiography, E. Mellen Press (Lewiston, NY), 2003.

Rojas, Sonia Riquelme, and Edna Aguirre Rehbein, editors, Critical Approaches to Isabel Allende's Novels, Peter Lang (New York, NY), 1991.

Zapata, Celia Correas, Isabel Allende: Life and Spirits, translation by Margaret Sayers Peden, Arte Público Press (Houston, TX), 2002.


Amerícas, July 1, 1992, Barbara Mujica, review of El Plan infinito, p. 60; June 1, 1998, Barbara Mujica, review of Afrodita: Cuentos, recetas y otros afrodisiacos, p. 60; September, 1999, Cecilia Novella, review of Daughter of Fortune, p. 61; October, 2001, Barbara Mujica, review of Portrait in Sepia, p. 63; November 1, 2005, Barbara Mujica, review of Zorro, p. 62.

America's Intelligence Wire, March 26, 2003, "Interview: Novelist Allende Caters to No One at U. New Mexico"; September 30, 2004, Jan M. Olsen, "Chilean Novelist Allende Named Hans Christian Andersen Goodwill Ambassador."

Architectural Digest, April, 1995, review of Paula, p. 32.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 2, 2000, Greg Changnon, review of Portrait in Sepia, p. C4.

Book, November-December, 2001, Beth Kephart, review of Portrait in Sepia, p. 60.

Booklist, February 15, 1993, Brad Hooper, review of The Infinite Plan, p. 1010; March 15, 1995, Brad Hooper, review of Paula, p. 1282; February 1, 1998, Brad Hooper, review of Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses, p. 875; August, 1999, Brad Hooper, review of Daughter of Fortune, p. 1984; September 1, 2001, Brad Hooper, review of Portrait in Sepia, p. 3; November 15, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of City of the Beasts, p. 590, and interview with Allende, p. 591; April 1, 2003, Donna Seaman, review of My Invented Country, p. 1354; February 15, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, p. 1050; February 15, 2005, Brad Hooper, review of Zorro, p. 1035; March 15, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Forest of the Pygmies, p. 1284; September 1, 2006, Brad Hooper, review of Inés of My Soul, p. 8.

Chicago Tribune, May 19, 1985, Bruce Allen, review of The House of Spirits.

Christian Science Monitor, June 7, 1985, Marjorie Agosin, review of The House of Spirits, p. B5; May 27, 1987, review of Of Love and Shadows, p. 20; June 10, 1993, Merle Rubin, review of The Infinite Plan, p. 14; December 19, 2006, "The Mother of Chile, Rescued from Obscurity; a Fictionalized Version of the Life of Inés Suarez, One of the Founders of the Country of Chile," p. 17.

Detroit Free Press, June 7, 1987, Anne Janette Johnson, review of Of Love and Shadows.

Detroit News, June 14, 1987, Charles R. Larson, review of Of Love and Shadows.

Entertainment Weekly, April 22, 2005, Lisa Schwarzbaum, review of Zorro, p. 66; November 3, 2006, Jennifer Reese, review of Inés of My Soul, p. 83.

Europe Intelligence Wire, September 7, 2004, "Interview: Director Patricio Guzman and Author Isabel Allende Present the Film ‘Salvador Allende.’"

Financial Post, August 5, 1995, Kildare Dobbs, review of Paula, p. 20.

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), June 24, 1985, Alberto Manguel, review of The House of Spirits; June 27, 1987, review of Of Love and Shadows.

Guardian (London, England), November 13, 1999, Alex Clark, review of Daughter of Fortune, p. 10; November 30, 2002, Carol Birch, review of City of the Beasts, p. 33.

Hispanic, October, 1993, Juan Ponce de Leon, review of The Infinite Plan, p. 72; May, 2005, Patricia Maldonado, review of Zorro, p. 66.

Journal of Modern Literature, summer, 2004, Elizabeth Gough, "Vision and Division: Voyeurism in the Works of Isabel Allende."

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2002, review of City of the Beasts, p. 1462; April 1, 2003, review of My Invented Country, p. 514; April 1, 2004, review of Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, p. 323; April 15, 2005, review of Forest of the Pygmies, p. 467; September 15, 2006, review of Inés of My Soul, p. 919.

Kliatt, May 1, 2005. Paula Rohrlick, review of Forest of the Pygmies, p. 6; July 1, 2005, Jacqueline Edwards, review of Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, p. 27; September 1, 2006, Paula Rohrlick, review of Forest of the Pygmies, p. 30.

Latin American Literary Review, July 1, 2002, Linda Gould Levine, "Defying the Pillar of Salt: Isabel Allende's Paula," p. 29.

Library Journal, April 1, 1993, Sherri Cutler, review of The Infinite Plan, p. 128; April 1, 1995, Barbara Hoffert, review of Paula, p. 94; August, 1999, Barbara Hoffert, review of Daughter of Fortune, p. 134; October 15, 2001, Barbara Hoffert, review of Portrait in Sepia, p. 105; June 1, 2003, Sheila Kasperek, review of My Invented Country, p. 118; October 15, 2003, Gloria Maxwell, review of My Invented Country, p. 115; March 1, 2005, Misha Stone, review of Zorro, p. 74; October 1, 2006, Kellie Gillespie, review of Inés of My Soul, p. 56.

Library Media Connection, January 1, 2006, Diana H. Hanke, review of Forest of the Pygmies, p. 69.

Los Angeles Times, February 10, 1988, review of Eva Luna.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, June 16, 1985, Richard Eder, review of The House of Spirits; May 31, 1987, review of Of Love and Shadows.

Magpies, May, 2005, review of Forest of the Pygmies, p. 40.

Miami Herald, November 15, 2006, review of Inés of My Soul.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 22, 2006, review of Inés of My Soul.

Mother Jones, December, 1988, Douglas Foster, interview with Isabel Allende.

Ms., May 1, 1995, Alicia Borinsly, review of Paula, p. 75; summer, 2005, Sarah Gonzales, "That Masked Man"; January 1, 2007, Zee Edgell, "Chile Con Mujeres," p. 75.

Nation, July 20-27, 1985, Paul West, review of The House of Spirits.

New Leader, November-December, 2001, Philip Graham, review of Portrait in Sepia, p. 38.

New Statesman, July 5, 1985, review of The House of Spirits, p. 29.

New Statesman and Society, July 2, 1993, Kathryn Hughes, review of The Infinite Plan, p. 38; September 22, 1995, Amanda Hopkinson, review of Paula, p. 34.

Newsweek, May 13, 1985, Peter S. Prescott, review of The House of Spirits, p. 82.

Newsweek International, November 13, 2006, Amber Haq, "The Mother of Chile; Isabel Allende's New Novel Celebrates the Spanish Conquistadora Who Helped Create a New Nation."

New York Review of Books, July 18, 1985, Robert M. Adams, review of The House of Spirits, p. 20.

New York Times, May 2, 1985, review of The House of Spirits; May 20, 1987, Michiko Kakutani, review of Of Love and Shadows, p. 20; February 4, 1988, review of Eva Luna; June 25, 1993, Michiko Kakutani, review of The Infinite Plan, p. 31.

New York Times Book Review, May 12, 1985, Alexander Coleman, review of The House of Spirits, p. 1; July 12, 1987, Gene H. Bell-Villada, review of Of Love and Shadows, p. 23; October 23, 1988, John Krich, review of Eva Luna, p. 13; May 16, 1993, Robert Bly, review of The Infinite Plan, p. 13; May 21, 1995, review of Paula, p. 11; May 15, 2005, Max Byrd, "Man in Black," p. 31; January 14, 2007, Maggie Galehouse, "Conquer and Convert," p. 19.

People, June 10, 1985, Harriet Shapiro, Isabel Allende interview; June 1, 1987, Ralph Novak, review of Of Love and Shadows, p. 11; June 5, 1995, Paula Chin, review of Paula, p. 34; April 20, 1998, review of Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses, p. 47; May 30, 2005, Bich Minh Nguyen, review of Zorro, p. 45.

Philadelphia Inquirer, June 7, 2005, Sandy Bauers, "Isabel Allende Makes the Mark of Zorro."

Publishers Weekly, March 1, 1985, review of House of the Spirits, p. 70; May 17, 1985, Amanda Smith, Isabel Allende interview; February 8, 1993, review of The Infinite Plan, p. 74; March 20, 1995, review of Paula, p. 47; January 19, 1998, review of Aphrodite, p. 360; August 23, 1999, review of Daughter of Fortune p. 41; July 16, 2001, review of Portrait in Sepia, p. 1142; June 24, 2002, review of City of the Beasts, p. 58; April 28, 2003, review of My Invented Country, p. 57; June 30, 2003, review of City of the Beasts; February 28, 2005, review of Zorro, p. 39; August 21, 2006, review of Inés of My Soul, p. 46; February 26, 2007, review of Inés of My Soul, p. 86.

Queen's Quarterly, fall, 1992, Alberto Manguel, review of Conversations with Isabel Allende.

Review of Contemporary Fiction, summer, 2000, Sophia A. McClennan, review of Daughter of Fortune, p. 184.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 28, 2001, Jan Garden Castro, review of Portrait in Sepia, p. G11.

San Francisco Chronicle, October 19, 2001, Heather Knight, review of City of the Beasts, p. 1.

San Jose Mercury News, May 11, 2005, Charles Matthews, "From Zero to Zorro."

School Library Journal, April 1, 2004, Susan L. Rogers, review of Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, p. 148; June 1, 2005, Eva Mitnick, review of Forest of the Pygmies, p. 147; July 1, 2005, Coop Renner, review of City of the Beasts, p. 44.

Spectator, August 3, 1985, Harriet Waugh, review of The House of Spirits.

Sunday Telegraph (London, England), October 14, 2001, Jenny McCartney, review of Portrait in Sepia.

Sunset, November, 2006, "Isabel Allende Marin County, CA: The Novelist Talks about Wine, Food, and the Journey from Chile to California.," p. 182.

Time, May 20, 1985, Patricia Blake, review of The House of Spirits, p. 79; July 10, 1995, Margot Hornblower, review of Paula, p. 65.

Times (London, England), July 4, 1985, Philip Howard, review of The House of Spirits; July 9, 1987, review of Of Love and Shadows; March 22, 1989, Stuart Evans, review of Eva Luna.

Times Educational Supplement, December 23, 1994, review of The Infinite Plan, p. 18.

Times Literary Supplement, July 5, 1985, Antony Beevor, review of The House of Spirits, p. 747; July 10, 1987, review of Of Love and Shadows, p. 740; April 7-13, 1989, Abigail E. Lee, review of Eva Luna; July 9, 1993, Jean McNeil, review of The Infinite Plan, p. 22; September 29, 1995, John Butt, review of Paula, p. 28; June 10, 2005, Anita Sethi, review of The Fox Man's Story, p. 28.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), October 9, 1988, Elizabeth Benedict, review of Eva Luna; June 18, 1995, review of Paula, p. 3.

U.S. News and World Report, November 21, 1988, review of Eva Luna.

Village Voice, June 7, 1985, Enrique Fernandez, review of The House of Spirits.

Virginia Quarterly Review, winter, 1996, review of Paula; winter, 2000, review of Conversations with Isabel Allende.

Voice of Youth Advocates, August 1, 2004, review of Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, p. 226; April 1, 2005, review of Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, p. 10; June 1, 2005, Nancy Zachary, review of Forest of the Pygmies, p. 141.

Voice Literary Supplement, December, 1988, Dan Bellm, review of Eva Luna.

Wall Street Journal, May 24, 1993, Linda Simon, review of The Infinite Plan, p. 8; March 20, 1998, Elizabeth Bukowski, review of Aphrodite, p. 7.

Washington Post Book World, May 12, 1985, Jonathan Yardley, review of The House of Spirits; May 24, 1987, review of Of Love and Shadows; October 9, 1988, Alan Ryan, review of Eva Luna; May 15, 2005, Craig Nova, "Who Was That Masked Man?," p. 7; July 24, 2005, Elizabeth Ward, review of Forest of the Pygmies, p. 11; November 12, 2006, Jonathan Yardley, "A Novel about the Passionate Woman Who Devoted Her Life to Founding Chile," p. 2.

Women's Review of Books, November 1, 1995, review of Paula, p. 8.

Women's Studies, July 1, 2006, Isabel Dulfano, "The Mother/Daughter Romance—Our Life: Isabel Allende In/and Paula," p. 493.

World Literature Today, spring, 1993, Patricia Hart, review of El Plan Infinito; summer, 1996, George McMurray, review of Paula; winter, 2002, Teresa R. Arrington, review of Portrait in Sepia, p. 115; January 1, 2006, Alan Cheuse, "Off the Air: Book Reviews from National Public Radio," p. 27.

World Press Review, April, 1995, review of Paula, p. 47.

Writing!, October, 2006, "Everything Is Possible: An Interview with Isabel Allende," p. 8.


Democracy Now, (November 17, 2006), Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman, "Acclaimed Chilean Novelist Isabel Allende on Michele Bachelet, Immigration and Chile as a ‘Country of Poets.’"

Isabel Allende Home Page, (May 4, 2007)

London Independent Online, (April 22, 2006), "Isabel Allende returns to Chile."

Metroactive, (December 14, 1995), Victor Perera, "Surviving Affliction."

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Allende, Isabel 1942-

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