Chilean novelist Isabel Allende is the author of the worldwide bestseller The House of Spirits, as well as the equally successful novels Of Love and Shadows and The Stories of Eva Luna. Initially a journalist, Allende began writing fiction in 1981. She now lives in California.
A woman makes love to an Indian dying of snakebite, miraculously restoring him to life and engendering a daughter named Eva``so she will love life.'' Thus begins Allende's latest novel, a magnificent successor to The House of the Spirits and Of Love & Shadows. Set in a Latin American country, it relates Eva's picaresque adventures. Brought up in the house of an eccentric doctor devoted to mummifying corpses, where her mother is a servant, Eva is left an orphan at six. Her black godmother, or madrina , leases her as a servant to a series of bizarre households of metaphorical significance, the last of which she leaves in grand style upon emptying a government Minister's chamberpot over his head. Interleaved with Eva's story is her account of a certain Rolf Carle, with whom her life will become linkedshe tells of his youth in Nazi Austria and young manhood as a filmmaker in South America. Through a series of improbable and felicitous coincidences, Eva is taken under the wing of such exotic benefactors as a street urchin who becomes a guerrilla leader, a colorful whorehouse Madam, a kindly Turkish merchant and a stunningly beautiful transsexual. Like the author, Eva is a prodigious fabulist, weaving extraordinary tales that change reality at will, making it, as she says, easier to bear. Although the fabulist's art is seen as dangerously escapist, Allende's wonderful novel, crammed with the strange and fantastical, the sensuous and the erotic, also speaks powerfully in the cause of freedom. 40,000 first printing; BOMC and QPBC alternate. (October)
Born in the back room of the mansion where her mother toils, and herself in service from an early age, the enchanting and ever-enchanted Eva Luna escapes oppression through story telling. Rolf Carle flees Germany for South America, and ultimately works as a documentary film maker, to escape childhood memories of burying the concentration camp dead. The two are brought together by guerrilla Huberto NaranjoEva's lover and a subject for Rolf's camerain this dense, opulent novel that serves as a metaphor for redemption through creative effort. In her earlier works ( The House of the Spirits, LJ 4/15/85; Of Love and Shadows, LJ 5/1/87), Allende's rich language occasionally shaded into overripeness; but here the prose is more tightly controlled, the characterizations defter. Her best work yet. BOMC alternate. Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal''
"An exotic dance that beguiles and entices."--"San Francisco
"Remarkable . . . [Isabel] Allende seems to draw characters and tales from a bottomless well as Eva Luna narrates the story of her life. . . . Vivid and passionate and human."--"The""Washington Post Book World"
"With vivid imagery, "Eva Luna" transports the reader to an almost mythic continent where magical happenings are everyday events."--"The Christian Science Monitor"
"Sumptuous . . . Allende's canvas is large, busy, full of feeling, incident and rich detail."--"Chicago Tribune"
"There is a richness of language, image, and adventure that flows effortlessly.""--The Philadelphia Inquirer"