cover image The Sum of Our Days: A Memoir

The Sum of Our Days: A Memoir

Isabel Allende, . . HarperCollins, $26.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-06-155183-3

In this deeply revealing second memoir, after Paula , novelist Allende (The House of Spirits ) utilizes her family and the complex network of their relationships as the linchpin of the narrative. While weaving in her candid opinions on love and marriage, friendship, drug addiction, the writing life and religious fanaticism, Allende continues to work through the grief over her daughter's death. “In these years without you I have learned to manage sadness, making it my ally. Little by little your absence and other losses in my life are turning into a sweet nostalgia.” And though Allende's insight is keen, her prose polished and her language hypnotic, it's the stories of her close-knit family that move the memoir forward. “We lived as a tribe, Chilean style; we were almost always together.” While much of the story is infused with melancholy, her world is by no means without humor, mirth and wisdom. She celebrates friends' triumphs and exploits their foibles, including the “odyssey of the boobs,” without taking herself too seriously. This is a book to savor. (Apr.)