Sunday, January 18, 2009

Paula by Isabel Allende

It took awhile to get to book #2 of 2009; I had a few false starts while working through that book sale pile. I felt like Goldilocks, the first was a novel written so poorly I can't believe it was actually published, and the second book I tried but I just couldn’t get into, so book three was Paula by Isabel Allende.

I originally picked up this book because I knew I’d read works by Allende, and enjoyed them, so I didn’t have a clue what it was about until I opened the first pages. The previous Allende works I’d read (Zorro, Daughter of Fortune, and Portrait in Sepia) were rich deep stories typically following one character through their life, or grand stories of families. This book was no exception, however it was a memoir rather then a novel.

Allende writes this book to her gravely ill daughter Paula as she lays in a coma first in Spain and then in California. Reading the book felt like you were reading over Allende’s shoulder as she wrote to her daughter. The book has two parts equally interwoven. One aspect is her biography, stretching back to her parents and grandparents up until her most recent marriage. The other side of the story is Paula, her untimely illness, and how it is impacting Allende and her family.

I can never imagine suffering through the death of a child, and Allende seemed to capture this despair and grief very well, often making this side of the story difficult and slow to get through. The familial history was often times just as gut wrenching, but like her other books I was swept along to see what happened to her and her family.

After finishing this book I looked up what Allende had most recently written, and in 2008 she continued her writing to Paula in a new memoir The Sum of Our Days. This will certainly be a book added to my “list” of books I want to read.

Next up a book recommended and sent by Peaknit herself.


  1. What a great review - I am drawn to this book after reading your thoughts about it. Though the topic of losing a child is a hard one, that is what reading is about to me - getting on the emotional rollercoaster with the author - complete with twists and turns. Nice. Adding it to my list! Take care!

  2. I love some of Allende's books! Your review makes me want to read this one too!