Friday, October 1, 2010

Book Review: Inés of my Soul by Isabel Allende

She is from Chile.  She lives in the US now.  She is one of my favorite authors.  I've read many of her books, and I love her voice, even though I sometimes read her books in the Norwegian translation.
"Inés of my Soul", or "Inés, jeg elsker deg", in Norwegian, is a heavy book.
Not heavy as in a brick or as in "takes a lot of space in your bag", but heavy in the sense of tough descriptions, tough themes, and filled with people, countries, geography and history.
It's actually a biographical novel.  Allende has based her story on the historic material on Inéz de Suárez, the Spanish woman who, together with Pedro de Valdivia, conquered Chile and co-founded Santiago in 1541.
We meet her as a young girl in Extremadura in Spain, and we follow her across the ocean to the New World, first to Peru, and then, together with the love of her life, Pedro de Valdivia, all the way to Chile, where she will live until she dies.
Allende writes with a love for her country that shines through everything.  We can sense the admiration and respect for the different native tribes who already lived there when the Spanish conquistadors came.  There are horrible descriptions of how the Indians were treated by the Spanish, but also vice-versa.
Allende manages to tell the story and the absurdness in the fact that people can commit atrocities against innocent people, and feel in their hearts that this is right, and it's God's will.  On the same time she kind of excuses them, almost like you excuse small children, not knowing better.  
("Forgive them, Lord, they don't know what they're doing"...)
She describes how the young kingdom of Chile is born, and how it's people becomes a mix of the native Indians and the invaders from Europe.
If you can't stand war scenes and gruesomness, shy away from this novel.  But, if you can manage to get past those horrible pages with some  kind of distance, you'll discover a saga, and a rich, colorful love story of Inés de Suarez, Pedro de Valdivia and many, many others who together weave this incredible - and true - retelling of the birth of Chile.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh I love Isabel Allende! Since having children I feel so much more sensitive to violence so I'm not sure I could handle this...but maybe. Thanks for the review!

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