cover image Retrato en Sepia = Portrait in Sepia

Retrato en Sepia = Portrait in Sepia

Isabel Allende. Plaza & Janes Editores, S.A., $19.95 (345pp) ISBN 978-84-01-34155-7

At the heart of this literary portrait is memory. Chilean writer Allende's new novel, skillfully crafted as the eloquent memoir of Aurora del Valle, captivates with its lyrical prose. Its enchanting characters engage in a vigorous quest for life's passions and family truths. Allende closes a trilogy with this novel, continuing story lines and characters from Hija de la Fortuna (Daughter of Fortune) and La casa de los esp ritus (The House of Spirits). Her tradition of braiding history and fiction through strong women characters is still intact. Framed by the social histories of San Francisco, CA, and Santiago, Chile, at the birth of the 20th century, Aurora's tale begins with her birth and flows forward and backward in time, piecing together the stories and secrets of her affluent Chilean family. Aurora recounts not only the family stories she needs for self-definition but also the history of her world's sociopolitical landscape: Chile's 1891 Civil War and the beginning of the California feminist movement and burgeoning xenophobia. This striking portrait highlights the nuanced shading of life's memories, which cannot be so easily forgotten. Already a best seller in Spain and Latin America, Allende's latest is highly recommended for all libraries and bookstores. [After July 3, Retrato will be available from Harper Rayo, ISBN 0-06-6211-60-3. Ed.] Silvia Heredia, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor