Unfamiliar with Latin American literature, I plunged into a mindblowing and sensual world of magic and the darkest place humanity could go to. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende centres on four generations of the del Valle/Trueba family who are plagued by violence, complicated love and the past. All the while they are surrounded by unknown spirits.
What I loved is the diversity of women. Each one is distinct and quite strong – I mean they’re well-written, complex women. They don’t tear each other down either which was a surprise. One of the major themes is the bond between them and it’s something that doesn’t break even during times of trouble. The women go through a lot of pain – reminding me of Game of Thrones – but they’re not portrayed as victims. Their strength remains intact, though they don’t physically fight back, they fight back by not inflicting revenge on their abusers. Because if they did so, they would continue passing on violence to future generations. And it’s how Alba, the eventually surviving member of the del Valle/Trueba family breaks the family curse.
I expected magic to be a major character but it’s in the background most of the time. Only there to be a guide. I’m not complaining because I love the characterisation and how the characters have to live in a world where there is magic but they still have to deal with their lives the normal way.
The writing is magic itself. It’s like music, never fails to bore you or make you think “I don’t believe it, this is unrealistic and stupid”. Each word is written with soul that I had to stop every and now before I turned into a fountain of tears.
I recommend The House of the Spirits, rating it 9/10. Though I should warn you that there are scenes that are quite sensitive and just plain disturbing (and irritated my feminist self), so take care. Now I’m going to go off, researching Latin American history and browse for more books in the Latin American house of fiction.