August 22, 2009

Something familiar

Isabel Allende: The House of the Spirits

First of all I had to admit, I don’t like the magic realism, or better to say, I never liked the maybe most famous novel with elements of magic realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But reading The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende it was an utterly other experience.

The House of the Spirits is a difficult story with many-many important characters, so I try to summarize the story, but I'm not sure, I'll manage it perfectly. Let's see:

The story is set in Chile and it includes almost the whole 20. century. This story is about the three generations of the family Trueba , more exactly about the three generations of women in the family Trueba.

Clara Trueba (née del Valle) has paranormal power, as a young girl she could predict a death in the family, and after her oldest sister Rose (an extraordinary beauty with green-hair) has died accidentally by poisoning, she stops to speak for nine years, and she starts again when she predicts Esteban Trueba (the former fiancé of Rose) will marry her.

Clara gives birth to three children, to a daughter, Blanca, and a twin boy Jaime and Nicolas.

Her husband, Esteban Trueba, the main male character of the novel is a hard man, he used to work very hard even as a child, and he is very proud he has become a rich man. The Truebas have the hacienda Las Tres Marias, he has changed it with hard work to a prosperous estate.

He has principles, the most important he has many respect to private property, and he hates socialists, but the son of his foreman, Pedro Tercero is a socialist and in love with Estebans daughter, Blanca. He hates Pedro Tercero too and wants to kill him, especially after it has became clear, Blanca is pregnant. Esteban forces his daughter to marry the French count Jean de Satigny, it's an unhappy marriage, not only because the husband is homosexual. (Blanca discovers it only just with months after their marriage.)Oh, and not to forget, Blanca was told, Pedro Tercero is dead, he is killed by her father. (But it's of course a lie.)

Meanwhile Esteban Trueba starts his political career, as one of the conservative members of the Parlaiment. But after many-many years, when Blanca's daughter Alba is already a student, the Conservative Party lost the votes, and the People Party, (the socialists) wins.

Esteban is fearing of a communist dictatorship (like in the Soviet union), he gives money and guns for a military coup of the socialist government. But it grows out of control, and it becomes really a dictatorship, (although the rich people can continue their life like before the socialist government.)

Jaime, the son of Esteban has killed during the military coup (the other son, Nicolas is sent by his father abroad, because of the scandals he ha made by his strange ideas).

Blanca (she has an affair with Pedro Tercero since some years again) is hiding his lover (he had an important role in the socialists government), Alba tries to help other people, but soon she is made the personal prisoner of Colonel Esteban Garcia (an illegitimate grandson of Esteban Trueba). In pure hatred of her privileged life and eventual inheritance García tortures Alba repeatedly.

But Esteban managed to free Alba with the help of Transito Soto an good old friend (a prostitute with influence) from his days as a young man.

Esteban and Alba lives in the big house of the Truebas alone. Clara has died some years ago, Blanca and Pedro Tercero managed to flee to Canada, Jaime is dead, Nicolas is far from his home, we know nothing about him...

So, Esteban and Alba start to write the memoirs of their family based mostly on Clara's diaries. Alba continues it alone after the dead of her grandfather.

And this memoir is basically the text of the novel we just finish to read.

I mentioned, I don't like the magic realism. It's too strange for me, but this novel The House of Spirits is something I like. I would say, it's more familiar to an European who likes family stories, than the other works by Latin -American authors.

The post was written for The Decade Challenge 09

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