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Beautiful and headstrong, Irene Beltrán works as a magazine journalist—a profession that belies her privileged upbringing and her engagement to an army captain. Her investigative partner is photographer Francisco Leal, the son of impoverished Spanish Marxist émigrés. Together, they form an unlikely but inseparable team—and Francisco quickly falls in love with the fierce an Beautiful and headstrong, Irene Beltrán works as a magazine journalist—a profession that belies her privileged upbringing and her engagement to an army captain. Her investigative partner is photographer Francisco Leal, the son of impoverished Spanish Marxist émigrés. Together, they form an unlikely but inseparable team—and Francisco quickly falls in love with the fierce and loyal Irene. When an assignment leads them to a young girl whom locals believe to possess miraculous powers, they uncover an unspeakable crime perpetrated by an oppressive regime. Determined to reveal the truth in a nation overrun by terror and violence, each will risk everything to find justice—and, ultimately, to embrace the passion and fervor that binds them. Profoundly moving and ultimately uplifting, Of Love and Shadows is a tale of romance, bravery, and tragedy, set against the indelible backdrop of a country ruled with an iron fist—and peopled with those who dare to challenge it.


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Beautiful and headstrong, Irene Beltrán works as a magazine journalist—a profession that belies her privileged upbringing and her engagement to an army captain. Her investigative partner is photographer Francisco Leal, the son of impoverished Spanish Marxist émigrés. Together, they form an unlikely but inseparable team—and Francisco quickly falls in love with the fierce an Beautiful and headstrong, Irene Beltrán works as a magazine journalist—a profession that belies her privileged upbringing and her engagement to an army captain. Her investigative partner is photographer Francisco Leal, the son of impoverished Spanish Marxist émigrés. Together, they form an unlikely but inseparable team—and Francisco quickly falls in love with the fierce and loyal Irene. When an assignment leads them to a young girl whom locals believe to possess miraculous powers, they uncover an unspeakable crime perpetrated by an oppressive regime. Determined to reveal the truth in a nation overrun by terror and violence, each will risk everything to find justice—and, ultimately, to embrace the passion and fervor that binds them. Profoundly moving and ultimately uplifting, Of Love and Shadows is a tale of romance, bravery, and tragedy, set against the indelible backdrop of a country ruled with an iron fist—and peopled with those who dare to challenge it.

30 review for Of Love and Shadows

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    What to say about this. I began it yesterday evening, I finished it this afternoon. It is wonderful. Some beautuful descriptive phrases, tiny images which capture something powerful. Gatherings of water in cobbles being likened to shards of glass, the mouth of a cave in which lie horrors as of yet undiscovered likened to a groaning mouth. Simple, obvious phrases but all the more powerful for that. Everytime I read a translated novel, and sadly owing to my 'non-ployglotness' this is inevitable, i What to say about this. I began it yesterday evening, I finished it this afternoon. It is wonderful. Some beautuful descriptive phrases, tiny images which capture something powerful. Gatherings of water in cobbles being likened to shards of glass, the mouth of a cave in which lie horrors as of yet undiscovered likened to a groaning mouth. Simple, obvious phrases but all the more powerful for that. Everytime I read a translated novel, and sadly owing to my 'non-ployglotness' this is inevitable, i am struck by the huge talent not just of the original writer but the ability of the translator. This novel is of oppression and fear and cruelty and love, of rejection and loyalty and deep tragedy and the amazing thing is you are swept along by the force of the narrative not by purple prose or long speeches or histrionic decalarations but by the warmth and courage and goodness of the characters. Having said that some of the ' goodies ' are quite annoying, and the love between the hero and heroine made me feel uncomfortable. I tried to work out why; i think it is because of the rejected lover; the one cast off. He is a good and noble man who seems swept out of the story without a second thought and his sacrifice unmourned. This struck me as unworthy of two supposedly high minded 'freedom-fighters'. That, of course, probably says a lot more about me thna it does of the two lovers. There is another gripe I would air though. It is that the villains of the piece, the oppressors and tyrants, those on the side of the devils seem drawn heavily, childishly, as if in crayon whereas the main protagonists on the angels' side are drawn carefully and fully with light and shade. Perhaps this was intentional but i do wonder whether this results in a story which fails to address issues. The story becomes very much an us and them where no real attempt is made to see any other point of view because it is presented that if you are not a fighter, slaving for the poor and the oppressed you are either senile, as the old folk in the nursing home run by Irene's mother, a blind egoist like the aforementioned mother or evil rapacious murderers like the rotten military. This simplistic division surely does not address the struggles many would encounter in such horrendous circumstances. I realize Allende knows everything about such things and I know nothing but surely those who keep their heads down, their ' noses clean', they may not be able to be declared courageous or noble or heroic but i feel it is an injustice unworthy of a story of oppresson and discrimination to automatically dismiss them as therefore on the side of the oppressors. Fear and cruelty spur some on to betrayal and cowardce, some to nobilty and sacrfice but most presumably to paralysis and terror. We encountered only heroes/heroines or bastards and these latter were painted in nothing but blood. I wonder if the story might have benefited from a touch of the normal; men and women who walk not on the high mountains of daring deeds and not in the subterranean passages of torture and murder but those who spend their lives dodging bullets not as they move from brave acts of sabotage to even braver acts of opposition but just those who have to dodge to move from workplace to home so as to provide for those they love in the best way they can. ps. Excuse the relaunch but I came across this review today and was conscious that it was one big blob of words, no paragraphs . This made it really difficulty to actually read and that was from the bloke who wrote it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brina

    I carry our nation wherever I go, and the oh-so-far-away essences of my elongated homeland live within me. - Pablo Neruda Earlier this year I rediscovered the magic of Isabel Allende when I savored every page of her new book Long Petal of the Sea. A return to her roots, the book with the sparkling blue cover paid homage to her homeland, an element that had been missing from most of her recent books, that she has written while living in California. Currently, one of my book clubs is reading this n I carry our nation wherever I go, and the oh-so-far-away essences of my elongated homeland live within me. - Pablo Neruda Earlier this year I rediscovered the magic of Isabel Allende when I savored every page of her new book Long Petal of the Sea. A return to her roots, the book with the sparkling blue cover paid homage to her homeland, an element that had been missing from most of her recent books, that she has written while living in California. Currently, one of my book clubs is reading this new opus, and I am participating in the discussion, more as an Allende “expert” than a current reader, filling the other readers in with the gaps they may have missed by not reading her other masterful works. A spark lit in me to read more about the story that is 20th century Chile. If Long Petal of the Sea glorifies the land that Spanish refugees must have felt after arriving after the Civil War, then Of Love and Shadows uncovers the corruption and brutality of the military regime that overtook the nation three decades later. Of Love and Shadows is a classic Allende story, the tale of the Chilean citizens of all walks of life brave enough to speak up against Pinochet’s dictatorship. Irene Beltran had no reason to denounce the current government. She grew up the only child of upper class citizens Eusebio Beltran and Beatriz Alcántara and was promised to be married to her cousin army captain Gustavo Morante from the time that they were kids. The Beltran-Alcántara home was not as blissful as an upper class existence could be, the parents always fighting and detesting each other’s presence, Beatriz living in her own reality, and the housekeeper, the indefatigable Rosa running the home. Irene grew up doted on by her father, loved and cherished by Rosa, and was a mere presence in the life of her mother. Beatriz Alcántara cheered the military regime from day one, believing that the order of the institution would put down the insurrections foisted upon Chile by the previous communist run government. Living in a mansion, Beatriz was in her own bubble, oblivious to the long lines to buy basic staples and the desaparecidos who the military had no knowledge of where they went. As long as she had her wealth and luxurious lifestyle, Beatriz would support the dictatorship. Irene had other ideas; she decided to become a journalist, opening her eyes to the atrocities going on in both Santiago and country. Beatriz, ensconced in her mansion, had no idea the depths and breaths of her daughter’s profession. She believed that her daughter was of good stock and that she would marry Gustavo Morante, furthering the family’s good name. In her heart of hearts, Beatriz Alcántara did love her daughter to desire that she bettered herself in life, which is why she looked down upon the profession of journalism as middle class. All parents want the best for their children, especially the Leal family, who had escaped Spain in the throes of war and made a new home for themselves in Chile, which connects Of Love and Shadows to Long Petal of the Sea through a web of motifs that crop up throughout Allende’s writing. Professor Leal found a job teaching at the university, and his wife Hilda ran an impeccable home, loving her three sons from the bottom of her heart. While she had much pride in her older sons Javier and Jose, the biggest place in her heart was for her son Francisco. The two enjoyed the opposite relationship of that of Beatriz and Irene, and, while the Leal home was not opulent, it permeated with love. It was Hilda who encouraged Francisco to try his hand at photography when his psychology clinic faltered, as though she could tell in the stars what the future held for her beloved son. It is strong peripheral female characters like Hilda and Rosa who permeate Allende’s writing and set the wheels in motion for an epic story. As fate would have it, Francisco Leal went to work at the magazine where Irene Beltran was a prominent journalist. He grew smitten with her from day one, another element to the best of Allende’s stories: forbidden romance. Irene, initially holding her emotions close to the best, requests that Francisco photograph all of her stories. After covering the story of Evangelina Ranquileo, a fifteen year old country girl who is known to have healing powers, the new couple witnesses atrocities perpetuated by the military and are determined to bring the years of terror brought on by the dictatorship to light. The fate of Ranquileo and all those associated with her as well as countless other desaparecidos, cement the relationship of Francisco and Irene. Hilda and Rosa knew it was fate from day one, and only Beatriz remained oblivious to her daughter’s true station in life. To Beatriz Alcántara, her daughter was an upper class young woman betrothed to a military officer, not a magazine reporter who, along with her true love, was determined to take down a corrupt regime. Of Love and Shadows is not for the faint of heart. Allende, the niece of deposed Chilean President Salvador Allende, wrote this book while in exile in Caracas, Venezuela. By that point, some of the brutality and atrocities brought on the people of Chile by the Pinochet regime had been exposed by brave journalists much like Irene Beltran. Allende herself, although she had already published House of the Spirits, had worked as a journalist and did not think of herself as an established author. Much of Irene Beltran’s story is her own, even some of the romantic elements. The peripheral characters who crop up, Allende knew people like all of them. The priests, lead by Francisco’s brother Jose, who ran a network to help political dissidents to escape; the hairdresser Mario, who has a colorful personality and is Irene’s biggest ally; the retired actress Josephine Bianchi, who treated Irene like her own daughter. These characters make up the backbone of this book, although none is as brave as Irene, making me appreciate Allende as a person before she became an established writer in an even greater light. With her family pedigree and chosen profession, it is a miracle that she survived in Pinochet’s Chile until the family went into exile, thankfully so that she could write the stories of her homeland. Of Love and Shadows is another of Allende’s books that is her bread and butter, paying homage to the people and landscape that comprise the nation of Chile. Many of the exiles who denounced the military returned to Spain, some to the United States. The Allende family first moved to Venezuela, and then to California. While Isabel became well known as a writer after living in California for many years, her gold standard stories as the ones she wrote while she still considered Chile to be her permanent home. The same themes and motifs connect the stories that tell the tale of 20th century Chile, the consequences for those who immigrated, emigrated, remained, and left. While darker than Long Petal of the Sea, Of Love and Shadows is a brave story that had to be told. It is among one of Allende’s best that she wrote while exiled with one foot still in the nation that is the long petal of the sea at the end of the world. 4.5 stars

  3. 4 out of 5

    ehnonymus

    my most favourite isabel allende novel; i would learn another language just for the pleasure of reading her in her native tongue. if the translation is so beautiful i can only imagine how heartbreaking it must be in spanish. i have to explain that i review the books i have read not on their objective merit but on the ways in which they speak to me. of love and shadows weaves a love story into the middle of a frightening political situation that is disturbingly real precisely because it has been my most favourite isabel allende novel; i would learn another language just for the pleasure of reading her in her native tongue. if the translation is so beautiful i can only imagine how heartbreaking it must be in spanish. i have to explain that i review the books i have read not on their objective merit but on the ways in which they speak to me. of love and shadows weaves a love story into the middle of a frightening political situation that is disturbingly real precisely because it has been and still is a reality for nations all over the globe and most notoriously in latin america. yes, the love irene and francisco have for each other is incredible, but the intense beauty of the novel shines through in so many of the characters, differing in their motives perhaps but so real in their intricacies. allende's gift is capturing the complexity of such political and social situations without reducing them to simple dichotomies of good vs. evil. her writing is intensely beautiful and poetic, stirring the imagination as her plot lines move the soul.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Fran

    This is Isabel Allende's second novel. Her first, The House of Spirits, is deeply immerse in the Magic Realism style of the masters of the genre. This one, also Magic Realism, has a more urban tone, setting a style that would become prevalent later, when English-speaking writers took over the genre. The book at its core is a love story, one plagued by shadows. The shadows of the totalitarian military regimen imposed in Chile by Augusto Pinochet. Many fans of Allende's first book, find this one lac This is Isabel Allende's second novel. Her first, The House of Spirits, is deeply immerse in the Magic Realism style of the masters of the genre. This one, also Magic Realism, has a more urban tone, setting a style that would become prevalent later, when English-speaking writers took over the genre. The book at its core is a love story, one plagued by shadows. The shadows of the totalitarian military regimen imposed in Chile by Augusto Pinochet. Many fans of Allende's first book, find this one lacking in magic. I don't agree with them. It's simply a different kind of magic. The magic in this book is of a more modern type, without so much lace and horses, but with a lot of motorcycles and journalists. There's a heavy political tint in this book, an unfiltered view of what Chile was during the Dictadura, with clean, fenced rich neighborhoods, surrounded by misery, and nothing in between. As readers we travel from one of those fancy houses to a small shack in the country where a family's younger daughter has been kidnapped, raped and buried by soldiers. Everyone knows what happened, but no one will do anything, except for Irene Beltran and Francisco Leal, a young journalist daughter of a Chilean Socialite and a young, idealist photographer son of Spanish immigrants. They will discover a mass clandestine grave, and expose Pinochet to the world (as if the world was not just pretending not to see). In the process they will fall in love and become exiles, escaping in the shadows, trying to reach the safety of a neutral country, one that would not simply return them to the hands of the Chilean military. In my opinion this book is as much of a master piece as The House of Spirits, but it's also much harder to read for the violence it contains, while not explicit, it's just too real. I love Allende's styles full of regionalisms and landscape, full of hope, despite the fact that as the niece of Salvador Allende, the president assassinated by Pinochet, she has lived her life in Exile, just as Irene and Francisco.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amelie

    This was a wonderfully written novel however, I did not find it engaging or an easy book to read. It is set in an unnamed country in Latin America, under a military dictatorship. It follows Irene Beltrán, a young journalist who was raised in a wealthy family and shielded from the horrors of reality surrounding her. After employing a new photographer, they attempt to report on a young girl who has magical capabilities when she falls into her daily seizure. Eventually, the girl goes missing and Ir This was a wonderfully written novel however, I did not find it engaging or an easy book to read. It is set in an unnamed country in Latin America, under a military dictatorship. It follows Irene Beltrán, a young journalist who was raised in a wealthy family and shielded from the horrors of reality surrounding her. After employing a new photographer, they attempt to report on a young girl who has magical capabilities when she falls into her daily seizure. Eventually, the girl goes missing and Irene, gradually becoming less and less naive about the world, decides to go and look for her. They sneak into a 'No Unauthorised Access' mine and discover the corpses of a variety of people who've disappeared from local villages, and they're faced with the task of exposing the horrible realities in the military dictatorship. There are so many characters in this book; it was hard to remember what relevance each character had. However, this book had an interesting historical context of Latin America and Allende writes in beautiful prose, which is lovely to read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    I'm gonna explore what I've never done before--all the works of a single author. Can't think of another writer I'd rather journey with. I'm gonna explore what I've never done before--all the works of a single author. Can't think of another writer I'd rather journey with.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anca

    Nothing I wasn't expecting. I must confess, though, it annoyed me the similarity to The House of Spirits. Isabel Allende's style is predictible, she tries to 'hook' you, to pull you in the story. I don't know about others, but she just couldn't do it with me. :) I was permanently noticing her style, habit of describing everything to the little detail [annoying and useless, if you ask me], reducing to characters to one, two presentations that say no-thing!-it just puts them in category-bleah!; th Nothing I wasn't expecting. I must confess, though, it annoyed me the similarity to The House of Spirits. Isabel Allende's style is predictible, she tries to 'hook' you, to pull you in the story. I don't know about others, but she just couldn't do it with me. :) I was permanently noticing her style, habit of describing everything to the little detail [annoying and useless, if you ask me], reducing to characters to one, two presentations that say no-thing!-it just puts them in category-bleah!; then, she lets them grow, and they grow teribly in this one:D. Of course the main characters are good-looking, hot and have that attractive South-American beauty; of course they are interested in politics and fight for freedom and democracy with the cost of their lives. rrrright. I think Allende has 'a thing' for politics in the country-again, the name isn't mentioned-better this way.. Oh, and the action is so fast, things happen, minor habits are all described, usual 'picture in picture' techinque. blahblah, that pisses me off. I don't think I want to read anything else written by her.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Negin

    This was a re-read. I read it several years ago, my pre-goodreads days and shortly after reading my favorite Allende book, “The House of Spirits”. I love most of her books and this was one was no exception. She truly is a superb storyteller. When I first read it, I know that I would have given it 5 stars, but since this was a re-read, I didn’t think it was as compelling as before. One of my favorite quotes was advice for expatriates (and pretty much anyone really): “All you will have is the presen This was a re-read. I read it several years ago, my pre-goodreads days and shortly after reading my favorite Allende book, “The House of Spirits”. I love most of her books and this was one was no exception. She truly is a superb storyteller. When I first read it, I know that I would have given it 5 stars, but since this was a re-read, I didn’t think it was as compelling as before. One of my favorite quotes was advice for expatriates (and pretty much anyone really): “All you will have is the present. Waste no energy crying over yesterday or dreaming of tomorrow. Nostalgia is fatiguing and destructive, it is the vice of the expatriate. You must put down roots as if they were forever, you must have a sense of permanence.”

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Wonderfully written novel. The language is so lyrical that you enjoy it like a ballad. It's so real and touching that you see triumph, ecstasy, defeat and despair of those people in a land under a despotic regime and political hypocrisy. The book indeed draws a colorful picture so vivid and natural that it makes you think from a different perspective. 'Development' can not be at the cost of natural justice to people of the land, oppression and suppressed torments breeds violence in the long run. Wonderfully written novel. The language is so lyrical that you enjoy it like a ballad. It's so real and touching that you see triumph, ecstasy, defeat and despair of those people in a land under a despotic regime and political hypocrisy. The book indeed draws a colorful picture so vivid and natural that it makes you think from a different perspective. 'Development' can not be at the cost of natural justice to people of the land, oppression and suppressed torments breeds violence in the long run. Wherever natural justice and freedom are hindered or denied in the name of 'development', there you see chaos in the end. It's a beautiful love story that leaves you scars and pain in your heart long after you've finished reading. However I felt it strange and it left me surprised at times that Ms Allende slipped to a pulp-fiction-style on a few pages. But she has displayed control throughout, the mastery of a talented craftsman who carries clarity of perception. She deserves to be recognized better. Happy reading...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ivana Books Are Magic

    As the title suggests, this is a book about love. Not just romantic love, but love in all its shapes and forms, love between family members, parents and children, friends and strangers. Even people who are strangers to each other, during the course of this novel prove their capability for love by acts of great personal courage. That kind of personal initiative is always very touching to read about and this novel handled that nicely. Human beings coming together to help one another, often at gre As the title suggests, this is a book about love. Not just romantic love, but love in all its shapes and forms, love between family members, parents and children, friends and strangers. Even people who are strangers to each other, during the course of this novel prove their capability for love by acts of great personal courage. That kind of personal initiative is always very touching to read about and this novel handled that nicely. Human beings coming together to help one another, often at great peril for themselves and their families. One of those human beings is Irene, a young woman engaged to a handsome military officer. She grows up in an upper class family, protected from poverty but not from personal tragedies. Having to witness her parent’s violent arguments in childhood made her somewhat withdrawn and dreamy. Despite being very perceptive at times (especially when on duty as a journalist), Irene seems to prefer to live in a world of her own. As the novel unfolds, Irene learns more about the place she lives in, as she makes the discovery of widespread suffering of the majority of people in her land, revealing traces of violence and injustice. Many families have valid reasons for crying rivers of tears and our Isabel together with her photographer (soon to be love interest) Francesco follow these rivers that seem to lead to a lake of grief. I love the way Allende potrays her characters. For example, Irene's character development is very believable. It is not that she starts of as a superficial girl, but the sensitivity that has lead her toward wanting to know more, is often not enough and she is forced to develop a new level of personal courage and determination. Furthermore, she is not portrayed as all mighty, she often has to and does rely on help of others, for example Francesco, who is by personal experience, more used to the desperate but subtle game of fighting the regime you happen to live in. The members of Francesco’s family are also a very important part of this novel that often travels back in time to give us more insight into the soul of its residents. Trust to Allende to create amazing family portraits. Nevertheless, all of this mentioning of love doesn't mean that this novel is only about emotions. On the contrary, I would say it is a very realistic representation of what life in a controlled state is like. I would even go so far as to compare it with 1984 when it comes to the depths of the psychological study of the oppressed and the oppressor. The seriousness of its appeal against government control is reinforced by those aspects of the novel that are most brutal but (probably) most honest in portraying the effects of physical and pyschological violence. If we are going to be honest with ourselves, we will have to admit that what happens in this novel is not a thing of a past, but sadly it is still a very relevant story for our time. As hard as it was to read at times ( because of the painful descriptions of tragic human destinies and hopeless struggles against a military regime), this novel still felt like a ray of light. There are graphic scenes in this novel. They weren't overwhelming to read and (IMPO) this novel still managed to send a message of love and hope but if you can’t take reading about murders, torture, rape and dead bodies, this may not the novel for you. In addition, there is a parallel love story in this novel that resembles the one in Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Allende is much more explicit in these descriptions of erotical desires at young age than Bronte was, so that is another element that might bother some people, even if brother and sister in question aren't real siblings and are aware of that when they daydream about each other. Personally, I don't have anything negative to say about the novel, I would just have liked to know a bit more about some characters that disappeared too suddenly for my liking. Another 5o or 100 pages would have made me perfectly happy. Not that the novel left any loose ends, it just left me with wanting more. The House of Sprits and Daughter of Fortune were just perfect lenght for me. If you have read and loved this novel, I would recommend reading those two novels. On the other hand, if you haven’t read anything by Allende this is a good novel to start with. It is also not as long as her other novels, so if you have a preference for a lesser number of pages, or you can’t spare the time for a longer novel, consider giving this one a try. My edition numbers 290 pages. It also came with a beautifully illustrated cover that captures the spirit of the novel wonderfully, but I wasn't able to track it here on goodreads. To conclude, this novel describes love in time of shadows (that come in a sinister form of a military regime) and it does it brilliantly, showing the best and the worst in human nature. The writing is touchingly beautiful, it deserves to be considered among the best in magic realism. ********* You can find a longer version and slightly different version of this review here: http://modaodaradosti.blogspot.ba/201...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Margitte

    One of those books that cannot be set aside to catch up on sleep. Allende's warm personality, her wisdom and experiences keeps the reader mesmerized. One of those books that cannot be set aside to catch up on sleep. Allende's warm personality, her wisdom and experiences keeps the reader mesmerized.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Abbie | ab_reads

    Of Love and Shadows, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden is another story in the classic Isabel Allende formula: historical fiction with a strong focus on a budding romance. It's set in an unnamed country in Latin America, under a military dictatorship - likely Chile under Pinochet, but it's not explicitly stated. It follows Irene Beltrán, a young journalist who was raised in a wealthy family and shielded from the horrors of the oppression surrounding her, who undergoes an awakening to the reali Of Love and Shadows, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden is another story in the classic Isabel Allende formula: historical fiction with a strong focus on a budding romance. It's set in an unnamed country in Latin America, under a military dictatorship - likely Chile under Pinochet, but it's not explicitly stated. It follows Irene Beltrán, a young journalist who was raised in a wealthy family and shielded from the horrors of the oppression surrounding her, who undergoes an awakening to the reality around her. . Allende's second novel has a hint of the magical realism which is so rampant in The House of the Spirits (and part of the reason I love that book so much). It's more subtle, as Irene and her photographer Francisco (who comes from a family of Spanish immigrants) document the story of a young girl thought to be in possession of miraculous powers. But the story leads them to something deeper, as hideous crimes are exposed to the light. . I was more interested in the political storyline than the romance to be honest. This was published in 1984 and it contains one of the most hilariously 80s sex scenes I've ever read. There was much 'sinking into private gardens' and 'shuddering torrents sweeping over Irene' and 'formidable dams breaking in groins' 😂 . But one thing Allende always excels at is transporting the reader to the scene (although unfortunate in the above instance). You feel like you're sitting in the overly warm kitchen of Francisco's family, the clattering printing press in the corner as his father produces illicit communist pamphlets, the smells coming from pots constantly simmering on the stove. . Overall, this one was a middle-of-the-road Allende for me. It took a while for me to finish it because it seemed to lose steam around the 200 page mark, which isn't ideal in a book that's only 300 pages. I wouldn't NOT recommend it, but I also wouldn't suggest it as a starting point if you haven't read her before.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Celia

    A satisfying tale of love and political commitment. This is Allendes's second novel and it is written in the same lilting style as the first. There is Irene Beltran, the unconventional daughter of a wealthy family, and Francisco Leal, son of Spanish exiles. She is the journalist and he is the photographer. They both work hard to uncover misdeeds of the political government. Then there is Evangelina Ranquileo, a strange farmgirl near the village of Los Riscos who seems to possess supernatural powe A satisfying tale of love and political commitment. This is Allendes's second novel and it is written in the same lilting style as the first. There is Irene Beltran, the unconventional daughter of a wealthy family, and Francisco Leal, son of Spanish exiles. She is the journalist and he is the photographer. They both work hard to uncover misdeeds of the political government. Then there is Evangelina Ranquileo, a strange farmgirl near the village of Los Riscos who seems to possess supernatural powers. I loved, loved, loved this book. Very worthy of Allende's extraordinary literary talents. 5 stars

  14. 5 out of 5

    Arukiyomi

    If novelists are to deserve a voice, priority should surely be given to novelists who tell stories of the forcibly silenced. While I get the fact that The Disappeared is a tragedy of epic proportions, and the world needed to sit up and notice when it was endemic in South America, to choose the medium of a shmaltzy, 1980s, Lady-Diana-hairstyle romance to portray it is just the wrong thing to do. It’s not equally tragic, but it’s somewhere on the scale. Allende could write. For sure. I’m just no If novelists are to deserve a voice, priority should surely be given to novelists who tell stories of the forcibly silenced. While I get the fact that The Disappeared is a tragedy of epic proportions, and the world needed to sit up and notice when it was endemic in South America, to choose the medium of a shmaltzy, 1980s, Lady-Diana-hairstyle romance to portray it is just the wrong thing to do. It’s not equally tragic, but it’s somewhere on the scale. Allende could write. For sure. I’m just not convinced, after two of her novels, that she could write well. This seems a shame for someone who apparently, according to the source of all knowledge (i.e. Wikipedia) “writes on a computer, working Monday through Saturday, 9:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.” If spending 84 hours a week produces the likes of this novel, then I for one am thankful she had all that time to edit. Goodness knows what state the book would have been if she’d knocked off early at 3 in the afternoon each day for a tequila. So, there’s this country ruled by a military dictatorship but it’s a fictitious country, right? I mean, it can’t be Chile can it? Anyway, there’s this country and… no wait a minute… let’s cut the political scene and zoom in from this broad perspective to focus on one poor family struggling to survive with a husband who is a peripatetic circus entertainer (no kidding). They have a daughter who has fits. This, in the spiritual land that is South America, becomes something of a local attraction when it turns out that someone was apparently healed during one of her bouts. Okay, let’s pan over to this couple working for a newspaper and start the shmaltz. He’s a young, handsome, intelligent photographer. She’s a young, handsome, intelligent journalist. Now, because this is post-Austen, we need some kind of reason why these two can’t get together so we can spend the rest of our efforts getting them together despite the odds (which we created in the first place.) Uhmmm… let’s see… oh yes… she’s engaged to this high up military guy (hark back to the politics) who she obediently loves without passion. See what she did there? Yep, gotta have that passion vacuum. Right, the ingredients are prepared, let’s throw them together. She and he head out to write a story on this epileptic girl and the military show up while she’s fitting and she kind of upsets one of them and so later gets abducted and disappears. Having hauled ourselves up to the peak, we can now coast downhill to the finish gaining momentum all the way: investigate the disappearance, discover a cave full of bodies, risk their lives, fall out of obedience to the military guy and into a bed of passion with the photographer and then run for the hills. Sorted. First off: a third of the novel is a waste of time. We actually don’t need to know anything at all about the girl who is abducted. In fact, it would have been more poignant had we started the book at the point of the investigation and then, like the investigators, piece together the stories of these apparently nameless corpses. Neither do we need the love story and scenes of sex in the moonlight which, quite frankly, insults the memory of the Disappeared in much the same way that a romance between investigators in the horrors of Auschwitz would denigrate the story of the victims. More disturbing is the self-serving narrative. Allende has, from birth, been privileged, and there is little doubt that the character of Irene the journalist is based on her in some way because of the similarities in the narratives of their lives. As Irene, Allende had the wealth and connections that came with it, to flee. Those who ended up in caves of corpses did not. The tragedy of the Disappeared is that they were denied a hearing for their stories. If novelists are to deserve a voice, priority should surely be given to novelists who tell stories of the forcibly silenced. On the evidence of this novel, at least, that does not include Allende.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Colette Elizabeth

    I wish every book had this exact ratio of love and longing, Marxism, mountain climbing, dunking on neoliberals and Catholicism

  16. 5 out of 5

    Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship

    I have yet to read an Allende book that I don’t like. This one is short, but there’s a lot packed into those pages, and I had a wonderful time with it. This is a book about life under a military dictatorship in an unnamed country that can only be Chile. Irene, a reporter, and Francisco, a psychologist-turned-photographer, are forced to confront the ugliest side of the regime when a teenage girl disappears immediately after an interview. As is to be expected from an Allende book, the plot meanders I have yet to read an Allende book that I don’t like. This one is short, but there’s a lot packed into those pages, and I had a wonderful time with it. This is a book about life under a military dictatorship in an unnamed country that can only be Chile. Irene, a reporter, and Francisco, a psychologist-turned-photographer, are forced to confront the ugliest side of the regime when a teenage girl disappears immediately after an interview. As is to be expected from an Allende book, the plot meanders a bit and gives life stories of minor characters; I love this, as it results in a richly textured and interesting cast. They are a diverse bunch, from a wealthy family struggling to maintain their traditional lifestyle, to middle-class immigrants, to impoverished farmers. Without exception, they’re vivid and well-developed, and I was easily drawn into their stories. There is of course a romance between the two protagonists, which I quite enjoyed (okay, I’m a little in love with Francisco myself). Overall, this is a well-written, well-crafted book, with such a three-dimensional setting and characters that it’s only too easy to relate to their situations and wonder what you would do in similar circumstances. This book seems to get less attention than many of Allende’s other works, perhaps because it was published nearly 30 years ago, but it is still relevant today. I didn’t love it as much as, say, House of the Spirits, but it’s still an excellent novel and a worthy read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book had a plot that absolutely fascinated me. Usually I am drawn into a book through characters, but in this case, I was attracted to the story itself. The characters are interesting and the author lends just enough history at appropriate intervals to give the reader an understanding of what makes each character "tick". Each character has their own "story" and it was fulfilling to learn about each of them. On one level, this is a love story and in some sense, a bit of a forbidden love story This book had a plot that absolutely fascinated me. Usually I am drawn into a book through characters, but in this case, I was attracted to the story itself. The characters are interesting and the author lends just enough history at appropriate intervals to give the reader an understanding of what makes each character "tick". Each character has their own "story" and it was fulfilling to learn about each of them. On one level, this is a love story and in some sense, a bit of a forbidden love story. On another level, though, the story is about truth, justice, and freedom, and the suppression of these three things. I was drawn in because I wondered if I would act in the same way that the characters did or if I would be complacent out of fear. This story comes out of a Latin American country under military dictatorship, but it is also something that seems so possible in any given country's future, so the danger and fear is so touchable. This is a book that I had to put down at times--not out of boredom, but in order to allow myself time to separate from the intellectual overload that I found myself going through! What a surprise to find myself considering so many facets of the story!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    The cover of this particular edition is splendid in its awfulness. Overall I just didn't care for this book. Allende does too much narrating about what people are like and what they're feeling instead of just letting them develop. I liked the political stuff, didn't really care for the love story. I found it pretty average. As a side note, what does she have against the elderly?! There's quite a few borderline ageist quotes in this book. Here have one: "During the months since he had met Irene, F The cover of this particular edition is splendid in its awfulness. Overall I just didn't care for this book. Allende does too much narrating about what people are like and what they're feeling instead of just letting them develop. I liked the political stuff, didn't really care for the love story. I found it pretty average. As a side note, what does she have against the elderly?! There's quite a few borderline ageist quotes in this book. Here have one: "During the months since he had met Irene, Francisco had learned a great deal about the peculiarities of the aged, and had discovered that affection is the only key to communicating with them, because reason is a labyrinth in which they too easily lose their way" (265). Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but all the old people in this book are helpless and pathetic and it seemed unnecessary.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Wells

    I pretty much love everything Isabel Allende writes!! This book is about the awakening of a young, privileged woman to the hardships of the poorer classes in the country in which she lives - an unnamed Latin American country that bears an amazing resemblance to Allende's native Chile. There's a revolution in most of Allende's books, and a love story, too. Probably La Casa de Los Espiritus will always be my favorite, but I really loved this book, too. I pretty much love everything Isabel Allende writes!! This book is about the awakening of a young, privileged woman to the hardships of the poorer classes in the country in which she lives - an unnamed Latin American country that bears an amazing resemblance to Allende's native Chile. There's a revolution in most of Allende's books, and a love story, too. Probably La Casa de Los Espiritus will always be my favorite, but I really loved this book, too.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Eadie

    I have read many of Allende's novels and I have enjoyed them all. This one was no different. It was an intriguing story and kept me interested until the very end. I found it to be a powerful and moving story of love in the midst of violence and fear. It shows us what life under military dictatorship in Latin American was like. It is also a mixture between mystery and romance. I would recommend this book to those interested in contemporary Latin American literature. I have read many of Allende's novels and I have enjoyed them all. This one was no different. It was an intriguing story and kept me interested until the very end. I found it to be a powerful and moving story of love in the midst of violence and fear. It shows us what life under military dictatorship in Latin American was like. It is also a mixture between mystery and romance. I would recommend this book to those interested in contemporary Latin American literature.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Loren

    This is another book club book, so I will have more to say later. First off, the writing is gorgeous, and the credit for this goes both to Isabel Allende and Margaret Sayers Peden, the translator. The descriptions are vivid. I have a habit of highlighting passages in books that I find particularly beautiful or poignant, and I've highlighted dozens in this book. I also love the stream-of-consciousness way that the narration flows into and out of different characters' voices. I liked the touches of This is another book club book, so I will have more to say later. First off, the writing is gorgeous, and the credit for this goes both to Isabel Allende and Margaret Sayers Peden, the translator. The descriptions are vivid. I have a habit of highlighting passages in books that I find particularly beautiful or poignant, and I've highlighted dozens in this book. I also love the stream-of-consciousness way that the narration flows into and out of different characters' voices. I liked the touches of magical realism and whimsy that lightened what could've been a very oppressive novel about a dictatorship. Touched as their stories are by the military's oppression, the two Evangelinas still come to mind, as well as the gentle way that the residents of the nursing home are depicted. It's beautiful and powerful that, not only did Irene and Francisco find love in the face of the political struggles of their homeland, but it was the dictatorship that brought them together, through their struggles against it. I would have, however, liked more nuance in portraying both sides of the conflict, as some of the military characters can come across as more like boogeymen than people, even bad people. I'm also not sure how I felt about the character of Irene's fiance. It was obvious to me from the start that she was never going to marry him, which meant that for most of the novel he came across like more of a human obstacle than a character in his own right. Even his ultimate fate felt glossed over. Other characters and plot threads felt glossed over as well, and the end of the novel seemed rushed as it tried to tie together all the loose ends. We don't spend enough time with Evangelina Flores to feel like her fate is truly earned, for example. The novel spends pages and pages telling the life story of Mario, only to ignore him for nearly an entire chapter, when his contributions could have made things much easier for Irene and Francisco, much earlier on in the plot. When he finally reappears, it's as a deus ex machina for the main characters. The final paragraphs are beautiful, ending perhaps ambiguously but reaffirming the sense of hope that winds through the book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    Allende's second novel is, in my opinion, an easier read than her first. Of Love and Shadows is the story of a female journalist, in an unnamed South American country (presumably Chile, but Allende stated that the anonymity of the country was intentional) who works for a women's magazine. After employing a new photographer, the pair attempt to report on a young girl who is said to have magical capabilities when she falls into her daily seizure. This girls magic has become something of a local ph Allende's second novel is, in my opinion, an easier read than her first. Of Love and Shadows is the story of a female journalist, in an unnamed South American country (presumably Chile, but Allende stated that the anonymity of the country was intentional) who works for a women's magazine. After employing a new photographer, the pair attempt to report on a young girl who is said to have magical capabilities when she falls into her daily seizure. This girls magic has become something of a local phenomenon, and many people gather around her family's small house in order to wait for the seizure to begin, which happens like clockwork every single day, so that they can ask for their prayers to be answered. When Irene Beltran and her photographer, Francisco Leal, attend the event, this time it is interrupted when a truck full of soldiers shows up to put an end to these undesirable gatherings. Eventually the girl goes missing and Irene, gradually becoming less and less naive about the world, decides to go and look for her. They sneak covertly into a 'No Unauthorised Access' mine and discover the corpses of a variety of people who've disappeared from local villages, and they are then faced with the task of exposing the horrible realities of their brutal military junta to the rest of the country. I loved this novel, I feel like Allende didn't skirt around with poetic flowery language as she did in her first novel, and instead managed to find a good balance between being direct, and maintaining the vestures of imaginatively arousing literature. Definitely a very worthwhile read, and have encouraged other people to enjoy it as well. In many ways I feel it is almost like a sequel to her first book (although it is completely unrelated in terms of characters and location) mostly because The House of the Spirits illustrates life before and just at the beginning of the military coup, whereas Of Love and Shadows takes place after the coup has already happened.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Haider

    I read a few of Allende's novels around a decade ago and really enjoyed them. I've had my eye on this one for years and I am glad that I finally got to read it. It has that same style and feel as the other Allende books that I liked so much. This book is set in an unnamed country but it could easily be set in Chile, Allende's home country. It is a time of turmoil and shadows. The government is run by a dictator. There is a lot of corruption in the government and the police. Criminals run rampant I read a few of Allende's novels around a decade ago and really enjoyed them. I've had my eye on this one for years and I am glad that I finally got to read it. It has that same style and feel as the other Allende books that I liked so much. This book is set in an unnamed country but it could easily be set in Chile, Allende's home country. It is a time of turmoil and shadows. The government is run by a dictator. There is a lot of corruption in the government and the police. Criminals run rampant and unchecked. People regularly disappear. But through all of this, there is love. We see romantic love and also love for family and friends. The two central characters are Irene and Francisco. Irene is a journalist and comes from a wealthy family. She works with Francisco, a photographer from a poor family. The two develop a deeper relationship as the book progresses. Irene is pretty fearless and seeks out stories even if they put her in danger. Irene and Francisco pursue a story about a teenage girl who villagers say can perform miracles. While investigating the story they uncover a crime. There is also discussion of people of different social classes and how they experience these love and shadows...how people keep quiet out of fear of what will happen. I see some similarities to other books I am reading this month about people from South & Central America.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Damn, what a writer. The way she so effortlessly sweeps back and forth through time and voluminous detail is enthralling. This is a dark book, dealing with Latin American dictatorships and resistance and violent reprisals (resonating with current events)--and yet she maintains a buoyancy in her robust depictions of seasons, place, and people both good and evil.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Todd

    This book has really stuck with me since I read it in the late 1980's It's interesting because it's a historical tale that is still very much relevant today. The United States involvement in the military Coup that overthrew the then popular president Allende (This writer's Grandfather, I think...) is rightly seen as an event that is little known or understood by people in the US. If this event were better known or understood, it is felt, it would influence politics in the U.S. in a deep and decisi This book has really stuck with me since I read it in the late 1980's It's interesting because it's a historical tale that is still very much relevant today. The United States involvement in the military Coup that overthrew the then popular president Allende (This writer's Grandfather, I think...) is rightly seen as an event that is little known or understood by people in the US. If this event were better known or understood, it is felt, it would influence politics in the U.S. in a deep and decisive way. People understanding the history of Chille and Allende, and the subsequent economic 'reforms' that were really a very damaging experiment in extracting the wealth of a country by outside economic forces, might have more concern for the similar shift that is currently being enacted by the same outsiders on the United States itself. This novel is about the pogroms, the politically motivated disappearances of thousands of civillians that took place after the coup. It is a death-defying drama for the couple who are at the story's center: two reporters who uncover a trove of terrible evidence of the crimes of the police and the crimes of the state. For those interested in the political future of the U.S., this book makes interesting, if frightening reading.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Meg - A Bookish Affair

    3.5 stars. You must know that Isabel Allende is one of my very favorite writers. She is so good at creating worlds that you can easily imagine finding yourself in and really memorable characters. I am trying to read her entire catalogue including re-reading some of the books that I have already read. "Of Love and Shadows" is one book of her's that I had not read yet. This book takes place in an unnamed Latin American country during the 1970s where unspeakable things are happening. My guess (and 3.5 stars. You must know that Isabel Allende is one of my very favorite writers. She is so good at creating worlds that you can easily imagine finding yourself in and really memorable characters. I am trying to read her entire catalogue including re-reading some of the books that I have already read. "Of Love and Shadows" is one book of her's that I had not read yet. This book takes place in an unnamed Latin American country during the 1970s where unspeakable things are happening. My guess (and a lot of other people's guesses) are that the book takes place in Chile, which if you know anything about Allende's family and background definitely makes sense. Even though there are some pretty difficult things happening throughout the book, you cannot help but to continue reading because of the way Allende draws you into the world of the characters. There were a lot of characters in this book and most of them were such peripheral characters that it was really hard to keep them straight. I had to keep going back in the book to figure out who everyone was. I stayed for the writing though!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    First: the cover of my copy of this book is amazing. And Next: this is a great book. It's not loud, or extreme, or astounding in any one way. Instead, Of Love and Shadows is quietly horrific, gently sorrowful, and achingly perceptive. It prompts thought. Love is a complicated thing, and in this book Allende shows us all sorts of love - yes, romantic love, but also filial love, parental love, platonic love, incestuous love, rejected love. Sometimes love yields something of beauty that can withstan First: the cover of my copy of this book is amazing. And Next: this is a great book. It's not loud, or extreme, or astounding in any one way. Instead, Of Love and Shadows is quietly horrific, gently sorrowful, and achingly perceptive. It prompts thought. Love is a complicated thing, and in this book Allende shows us all sorts of love - yes, romantic love, but also filial love, parental love, platonic love, incestuous love, rejected love. Sometimes love yields something of beauty that can withstand the horrors of a corrupt world, and sometimes love fails. Sometimes it's misplaced. Sometimes, love simply makes things better, and overcomes, for a time, the pressures of outside forces. Wrapped around all this love is, indeed, something far more sinister: political power that crushes any dissent, real or imagined. Horrible things happen in this book - and these horrible things have nothing to do with love. These are the shadows. Rape, murder, revenge, carelessness, assassination, torture. In the end, all is not well. Tyranny, though resisted, doesn't crumble. And neither does love.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rosa Canina

    If you just want fluffy romance story, don't read this. Contrary what title, and horrendous covers of the edition I've read may suggest, this is not some love story. Horrible covers that made me feel ashamed while I was reading it in bus full of people from my institute: This is story about oppressive dictatorship, censure, about fighting for freedom and truth. About courage to act upon your beliefs, and about people who will turn their head from stuff that don't suit their perfect world. About If you just want fluffy romance story, don't read this. Contrary what title, and horrendous covers of the edition I've read may suggest, this is not some love story. Horrible covers that made me feel ashamed while I was reading it in bus full of people from my institute: This is story about oppressive dictatorship, censure, about fighting for freedom and truth. About courage to act upon your beliefs, and about people who will turn their head from stuff that don't suit their perfect world. About love, too, but it is not a romance you would read to feel good, and romantic love is not the only type of love that Allende writes about. As always, Isabel Allende writes beautiful prose, and she is superb storyteller. This is not my favorite novel written by her, but I liked it a lot. I would recommend it to anyone interested in Latin American literature.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    I had hoped to find "House of Spirits" among the library stacks, but no, just an empty slot with this book, 'Of Love and Shadow' right beside it so I thought I would give it a try. I very much enjoyed the opening half of this book as there were some truly fascinating characters. It was pleasant reading: what would bring all these characters together? Where is the author headed? Then the book veered into very dark political issues and there is a particularly gruesome rape/murder scene that seemed I had hoped to find "House of Spirits" among the library stacks, but no, just an empty slot with this book, 'Of Love and Shadow' right beside it so I thought I would give it a try. I very much enjoyed the opening half of this book as there were some truly fascinating characters. It was pleasant reading: what would bring all these characters together? Where is the author headed? Then the book veered into very dark political issues and there is a particularly gruesome rape/murder scene that seemed pointless in moving the story forward in any way. Therefore this was almost like reading two different books. For me, the author just didn't pull it all together. It's almost like a chapter or two is missing at the end. But, I'm definitely going to read "House of Spirits" as all prolific authors can have a bad day or two at writing.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sena

    Overall: 4.75/5 stars. Allende's lyrical prose captivates once again. Liked: - Beautiful, beautiful prose. Gorgeous writing, I've always adored reading Allende's work for this reason. - Wonderfully atmospheric; having just visited Chile half a year ago, this brought back flavors of the region and cordillera in full blast to me. - Tackled some darker topics with visceral, evocative language to emphasise that fact. - Fleshed-out characters and an intriguing plot that, once having drawn the rea Overall: 4.75/5 stars. Allende's lyrical prose captivates once again. Liked: - Beautiful, beautiful prose. Gorgeous writing, I've always adored reading Allende's work for this reason. - Wonderfully atmospheric; having just visited Chile half a year ago, this brought back flavors of the region and cordillera in full blast to me. - Tackled some darker topics with visceral, evocative language to emphasise that fact. - Fleshed-out characters and an intriguing plot that, once having drawn the reader in, captivates with its realism from start to finish. Their only occupation was to avoid death, but always thinking of it, anticipating it, fearing it. Disliked: - A bit of a slow start, with too much introduced at once.

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