cover image The Stories of Eva Luna

The Stories of Eva Luna

Isabel Allende. Atheneum, $18.95 (330pp) ISBN 978-0-689-12102-9

The eponymous heroine of Eva Luna returns as the narrator of 23 tales, sumptuous marriages of Chilean writer Allende's earthy characters and her celestial version of magical realism. Although other figures from that novel also reappear (for example, Eva Luna spins her stories at the request of her lover Rolf Carle), this collection is in no sense a sequel: indeed, each piece here can stand alone. Allende's people are warm-blooded, original, memorable. A simple lyricism evokes European emigres to South America; social climbers; outlaws; schoolteachers; Indians; a nearly indefatigable imagination explores the critical moments in these figures' lives. Many of the stories build on the intricate attachments of unlikely lovers, such as a dictator and the foreign woman he abducts or a criminal and a judge's wife. Allende's inventiveness justifies her own comparisons of her literary creation to Scheherazade, and throughout all these short works whispers the mysticism of Eva Luna herself--her well-placed faith in a world of spirits and in the immortality of human love. (Jan.)