Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende: Book Review

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Portrait in Sepia
Title: Portrait in Sepia
Series Number: 2

My Synopsis:

Aurora del Valle lives with her maternal grandparents until she is five years old. After her grandfather’s death, she’s taken to live with her paternal grandmother, an acute businesswoman in a world that is still unrelentingly ruled by men. This fierce woman, Paulina, has a soft spot in her heart for her only granddaughter and gives her the best of everything. But Aurora suffers from debilitating nightmares that no one can explain.

My Review:

Reviewed February 26, 2009

Even though this novel was written in first person, I felt as if I were watching the story unfold behind glass. I never got pulled into the story completely. I was never particularly interested in Aurora. I was more interested to see what scheme Paulina would come up with next in late-nineteenth century America and Chile. She was the only character who really came to life for me. I would love to read a book about her life. Anway, I was really just kind of ambivalent to the whole thing, to the point that it was even hard for me to write a summary. I guess I can say mainly that the point was to explain how important our roots are. Even though Aurora is safe and secure with Paulina, she doesn’t have much of a connection to anyone else and she doesn’t really know any other family. As she matures and eventually finds out more about her mother’s family, she seems to come to a kind of peace. But all that wasn’t really enough to keep me turning pages.

What I did really enjoy was Allende’s language. She’s a beautiful writer, even in a translated edition. These South American writers seem to have that down. They’re making me want to practice my Spanish more and learn to read them in the original language! I can only imagine how much more impressive these books would be in the original Spanish. Anyway, if you’re looking for a book that’s big on language but, to me anyway, a little weak on plot and characterization, this is an excellent choice.

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  1. I haven't read this book, but I loved Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. I thought it was fantastic. I also have another book of hers that I haven't picked up yet called Paula: A Memoir (P.S.). I need to get to that soon because I really like her writing style.

    I think that the book sounds good even if it was just lukewarm to you. I'll keep it on my radar for sure!

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