Eva Luna

Isabel Allende, Author, Margaret Sayers Peden, Translator
Isabel Allende, Author, Margaret Sayers Peden, Translator Alfred A. Knopf $18.95 (271p) ISBN 978-0-394-57273-4
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
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)
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