Conceived on her father's deathbed and almost strangled to death by her umbilical cord, the baby who emerged would become the woman, Eva Luna. Her birth is incredible and her life is even more so as Eva spins for us her story and the story of those who impacted her life. Come with Eva, as a little girl where she plays with a stuffed puma owned by a mad-man who uses Indians for his embalming experiments. Watch as this orphaned girl is "sold" off by her strange godmother who believes in the gods of her ancestral Africa and the saints of Catholicism. Watch Eva as she grows from childhood to adolescence to an adult who has to confront the reality of love and revolution.
Pages: 320 pages (paperback)
Rating: 8 out of 10
When I first picked up Eva Luna by Isabel Allende from Partner's childhood home, I did not know exactly what to expect. I was looking for an engaging story, Partner told me that he read the book in Spanish and could not remember too much of the story. I was excited to try because I did read some of Isabel Allende in college, but had not had her words as part of my daily routine for quite awhile. It took a bit of time for me to get into the story. Allende has very detailed prose and takes her time introducing you to the characters.
Once I got rolling I became totally engrossed in story and the characters. In particular, I wanted to learn more about Eva and Rolfe's journey. The book explores sexism and classicism within revolution. It also discusses a burning desire to write. At one point, Eva is having a conversation with Huberto who is involved in the guerilla movement. Through her conversation with him, she realizes her exclusion from the benefits of the revolution he is working towards:
The people seemed to be composed exclusively of men; we women should contribute to the struggle, but were excluded from decision-making and power. His revolution would not change my fate in any fundamental way. Perhaps it was at that moment I realized that mine is a war with no end in view.
At another point in the book, a group of Indians are housing the guerillas. While it may seem that the Indians would be on the side of those who are striving to overthrow the government, the Indians have a different perspective:
But the Indians were not interested in his revolution, or anything else that came from that hated race. They did not share the guerilla's ideals, they did not believe their promises or understand their reasoning. The chief knew that even if the Indians had not been involved, the soldiers would hold them responsible because the village was so close to the village.
The above passage illustrates Allende's genuis. While the story of the main characters is moving forward, she also educates the reader about how marginalized groups are often left out of progressive brought by revolutions. She also points out how some groups are constantly blamed for ills of society even when they may have nothing to do with the root cause.
Finally, Eva finds her passion for writing. Throughout the novel, we see examples of her ability to tell stories. I really enjoyed reading about how she felt the first time she put her words to paper:
I believed that that page had been waiting for me for twenty years, that I had lived only for that instant, and I hoped that from that moment my only task would be to capture the stories floating in the thin air, to make them mine.
Sometimes when I am blogging, I find myself wishing to have writing be my only responsibility. Other times when I have writer's block, I cannot imagine anything worse than having to write :) Anyway, Eva Luna by Isabel Allende is truly a terrific read. My only complaint is that it took me awhile to get into the story. To make the stories easer to follow, I would recommend writing down the names of the characters. I did not follow that piece of advice and I had to go back and reread various parts to remind myself of who was who.
I am counting this book for the Orbis Terrarum challenge.
*If you read and reviewed this book, please leave me a link in the comments or email me. I will include it at the end of my post*