Saturday, June 20, 2009

30 Second Review - Isabel Allende "Ines of my Soul"

My love affair with Isabel Allende continues with me reading her "Ines of my Soul," a novel that is the fictitious telling of the true story of the colonization of Chile, written from the point of view of Ines Suarez, the woman at the center of the founding of the city of Santiago and thanks to whom the city survived. It is an amazing story, made more unreal by the fact that it's linked by true events. The book is a novel because no true account survives of the journey the colonists took, nor of their difficult first years. Instead Allende uses the magic of her pen and a lot of research to craft this book.

Still, it did not truly dawn on me that this actually happened until the disclaimer at the end, because the story is so colorful, the people so large and unreal, their lives possessed by the allure of exploration, by the taming of a wild and dangerous land at the very end of the world. It is an amazing story. And again, the craft and quality that I've come to expect from Allende is there, in full force. Soft and gentle, the words demand your reading. This being one of her most recent novels, her writing has definitely improved and metastasized.

At the center is Ines herself, hailing from simple roots, who, by chance, destiny and her gift of finding water, becomes the mother of Santiago and all of Chile. Intelligent and cunning, she is surrounded by a host of strong women who maintain the city and its men. Also central to the novel is the systematic dismantling and subjugation of the natives of the continent and the wars the colonists wage on the them, especially the Mapuchu. A difficult subject, Allende does not gloss over the savagery that was so common then and while never excessively graphic, it's still sometimes shocking.

Beautiful, fascinating and meticulously written, this is another must-read.

No comments: