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My Invented Country: A Memoir


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The life story of Isabel Allende -- one of the world's favourite writers -- is as exotic, passionate and inspiring as one of her novels. Just three when her parents divorced, Isabel Allende was raised in her grandparents' home in Chile. She left school at 16; and married Miguel Frias at 19. She then juggled her work as a journalist, editor, advice columnist and television interviewer with looking after her two children. But when her cousin the Chilean president Salvador Allende was assassinated in 1973 in Pinochet's right-wing military coup, her life changed profoundly. It was too dangerous to stay in Chile; and she, her husband, and their two children fled to Venezuela. During her impoverished exile, she started writing 'The House of the Spirits'. Based on her memories of her family and the political upheaval in her native country, it became an international bestseller and everything changed again! / Allende's popularity as an author just keeps growing, book on book. / Everyone who read and enjoyed Paula and its partial coverage of Allende's life (200,000 plus in the UK alone) will want to read this book. / Competition: Auto Da Fay, Gabriel Garcia Marques

About the Author

Isabel Allende is the author of twelve works of fiction, including the New York Times bestsellers Maya"s Notebook, Island Beneath the Sea, Ines of My Soul, Daughter of Fortune, and a novel that has become a world-renowned classic, The House of the Spirits. Born in Peru and raised in Chile, she lives in California.


Allende (The House of the Spirits) explores the homeland she left following the military coup and death of her uncle Salvador Allende Gossens, on September 11, 1973. The terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 prompted her to consider both the country she still called "home" and her adopted homeland, the United States. The result is a combination memoir, travelog, and social history that moves from one reflection to another as the mood or memory strikes the author. She paints a fascinating picture of an unusual country, one that features flamingoes in the north and volcanoes in the south, with apples and grapes in the central valley region. She is unflinchingly honest about detailing Chilean adherence to a class system, the people's fixation with machismo, and their inherent conservatism and clannishness. Chileans thrive on bureaucracy, funerals, and soap operas. It's unfortunate that the United States engineered a coup that toppled a successful democratic government-one that seemed to be leaning too close to communism to suit President Nixon-and thus opened the door for a brutal dictatorship that the people of Chile endured for many years. The author claims she has always felt like an outsider in her native country-within her family, social class, and even her Catholic religion-yet the fondness and nostalgia she brings to her narrative portray a longing that transcends her exile and reveals the inspiration Chile has had on the formation of her writing and life. My Invented Country is a warm and rich tribute to two very different countries, as well as a testament to the indomitable spirit Chileans bring to their tempestuous past. Listeners will enjoy hearing Allende narrate her own introduction before turning over the reading to Blair Brown, an accomplished actress whose voice is easy on the ears yet captures the proper emotional notes. Highly recommended for all public libraries.-Gloria Maxwell, Penn Valley Community Coll., Kansas City, MO Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

'Allende's writing is so vivid we smell the countryside, hear the sounds, see the bright birds, the scorched earth, smell and even taste the soft fruit.' The Times 'Allende has a gift for conversational writing and a sharp sense of humour!I very much enjoyed this visit to the other Chile, that half-remembered country of her imagination.' New Statesman 'Allende is incapable of telling a bad story. She writes of her own experience with a kind of wild candour. Her heroically sustained narrative, her lovingly prepared plots and surprise inventions explode in an exaltation.' Independent 'Lucid, original and expounded with an unquestionable sense of humor!part essay and part autobiography!When Allende poses sweeping general truths, she leaves room for argument!But the book gets my undivided attention when it expounds on the relationship of the author to that country of hers, invented, imaginary, fictional, to the story of her family, which is itself invented memory, and to her vocation as a narrator!It will provoke curiosity. And that is where everything begins.' LA Times

Allende's novels-The House of the Spirits; Eva Luna; Daughter of Fortune; etc.-are of the sweeping epic variety, often historical and romantic, weaving in elements of North and South American culture. As with most fiction writers, Allende's work is inspired by personal experiences, and in this memoir-cum-study of her "home ground," the author delves into the history, social mores and idiosyncrasies of Chile, where she was raised, showing, in the process, how that land has served as her muse. Allende was born in Peru in 1942, but spent much of her childhood-and a significant portion of her adulthood-in Santiago (she now lives in California). She ruminates on Chilean women (their "attraction lies in a blend of strength and flirtatiousness that few men can resist"); the country's class system ("our society is like a phyllo pastry, a thousand layers, each person in his place"); and Chile's turbulent history ("the political pendulum has swung from one extreme to another; we have tested every system of government that exists, and we have suffered the consequences"). She readily admits her view is subjective-to be sure, she is not the average Chilean (her stepfather was a diplomat; her uncle, Salvador Allende, was Chile's president from 1970 until his assassination in 1973). And at times, her assessments transcend Chile, especially when it comes to comments on memory and nostalgia. This is a reflective book, lacking the pull of Allende's fiction but unearthing intriguing elements of the author's captivating history. Agents, Carmen Balcells and Gloria Gutierrez. (June) Forecast: Despite a six-city author tour and advertising in the Miami Herald, New York Times Book Review and San Francisco Chronicle, this book probably won't attract as much attention as Allende's fiction does. Still, after having written 10 other books, Allende's developed a strong fan base, and her loyal readers will undoubtedly clamor for this. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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