Isabel Allende has established herself as one of the most consummate of all modern storytellers, a reputation that is confirmed in her novel Portrait in Sepia. Allende offers a compelling saga of the turbulent history, lives, and loves of late 19th-century Chile, drawing on characters from her earlier novels, The House of Spirits and Daughter of Fortune.
In typical Allende fashion, Portrait in Sepia is crammed with love, desire, tragedy, and dark family secrets, all played out against the dramatic backdrop of revolutionary Chile. Our heroine Aurora del Valle's mother is a Chilean-Chinese beauty, while her father is a dissolute scion of the wealthy and powerful del Valle family. At the heart of Aurora's slow, painful re-creation of her childhood towers one of Allende's greatest fictional creations, the heroine's grandmother, Paulina del Valle. An "astute, bewigged Amazon with a gluttonous appetite," Paulina holds both the del Valle family and Allende's novel together as she presides over Aurora's adolescence in a haze of pastries, taffeta, and overweening love.
One of the most interesting aspects of the novel is Allende's decision to turn her heroine into a photographer: "through photography and the written word I try desperately to conquer the transitory nature of my existence, to trap moments before they evanesce, to untangle the confusion of my past." There is little confusion in Allende's elegantly crafted and hugely enjoyable novel. --Jerry Brotton, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
HIn this third work concerning the various and intertwining lives of members of a Chilean family, Allende uses the metaphor of photography as memory. "Each of us chooses the tone for telling his or her own story; I would like to choose the durable clarity of a platinum print, but nothing in my destiny possesses that luminosity. I live among diffuse shadings, veiled mysteries, uncertainties; the tone for telling my life is closer to that of a portrait in sepia," declares Aurora del Valle, protagonist of the tale. Here, Allende picks up where 1999's Daughter of Fortune left off, and, in the course of her chronicles, mentions personages who were realized in her 1987 masterpiece, House of the Spirits. Like her other novels, Portrait in Sepia spans nearly 50 years and covers wars, love affairs, births, weddings and funerals. Rich and complex, this international, turn-of-the-century saga does not disappoint. The book opens as 30-year-old Aurora remembers her own birth, in the Chinatown of 1880 San Francisco. She tells of those present: her maternal, Chilean-English grandmother, Eliza; her grandfather Tao (a Chinese medic); and her mother, Lynn, a beloved beauty who dies during Aurora's birth. Realizing she is getting ahead of herself, Aurora backtracks, inviting the reader to be patient and listen to the events surrounding her life, from 1862 to 1910. Through Aurora, Allende exercises her supreme storytelling abilities, of which strong, passionate characters are paramount. Most memorable is Aurora's paternal grandmother, Paulina del Valle, an enormous woman who eats pastries and runs her trading company with equally reckless abandon. Like Paulina, Allende attacks her subject with gusto, making this a grand installment in an already impressive repertoire. Major ad/promo; 7-city author tour.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product Description
The story of Aurora and her ancestors is a great one. Isabel Allende divides the story between USA and South America, and there are great characters all the way through the book. Read morePublished on June 4 2004 by Louise
This is the first time that I've read Ms. Allende and maybe due to the fact that I've not read any of her previous titles I did not have any expectations when beginning this story... Read morePublished on March 13 2004 by Kristi Ahlers
I found this book very enjoyable, it was an easy read and even if there are facts that aren't totally accurate (as another reviewer points out) this is a novel, not a history book,... Read morePublished on March 5 2004 by S. Echeverria
I loved this book because the plot takes place both in Latin America and the USA. Isabel Allende uses a great plot to tell San Francisco's history, and its relation to so many... Read morePublished on Feb. 24 2004
This book follows many of the characters Allende introduced in another novel, Daughter of Fortune. I actually liked this book a little better than Daughter of Fortune, because I... Read morePublished on Jan. 9 2004 by Nicole Bradshaw
I like Isabel Allende. And PORTRAIT IN SEPIA is a good story, well told, but sometimes I felt that Allende phoned this one it instead of really working on the characters. Read morePublished on Jan. 6 2004 by Terry Mathews
What a piece of work this was! I was only able to tolerate about 20 pages at a time, and I didn't give up simply because it was a book by Isabel Allende. Read morePublished on Sept. 1 2003 by Leticia C Vasquez
I can't tell you that this is an excellent book, but is a good book to learn something about how is the life in Latin America, are parts of the book that it doesn't have many... Read morePublished on Aug. 5 2003 by Jorge Frid