- Audio CD
- Publisher: HarperAudio; Unabridged edition (Oct. 23 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0694526541
- ISBN-13: 978-0694526543
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 3.8 x 15.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 295 g
- Average Customer Review: 46 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,280,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Portrait in Sepia CD: A Novel Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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Audio CD, Audiobook, Unabridged
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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.
From Publishers Weekly
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
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Eleanor Cowan, Author of : A History of a Pedophile's Wife: Memoir of a Canadian Teacher and Writer
Portrait in Sepia (2000) tells the story of Aurora del Valle, the granddaughter of Eliza Sommers, the main character of another Allende's novel Daughter of Fortune, published in 1999. The characters of Portrait in Sepia are themselves the ancestors of those of The House of the Spirits, published in 1982. As such, Daughter of Fortune, Portrait in Sepia and The House of the Spirits form a trilogy.
I won't reveal the story and will leave you to discover it. All I will say is that it is a biographical novel with a historical background (the American civil war and the War of the Pacific in which Chile fought against both Peru and Bolivia). The events take place in the United States of America, Chile and Europe between 1862 and 1910.
If I have to pinpoint a negative aspect of the novel, it would be the tendency the author has in switching to a journalistic style at times especially toward the end. Few years and sometimes decades of some characters's life are told in very few pages.
Portrait in Sepia is not what I would call a "quotation novel", a novel that forces you to stop at every paragraph to take notes of some well-crafted sentences but it does not nonetheless lack richness nor deepness.
The book takes place in San Francisco's Chinatown, in Peru and mostly, in Chile, something I really enjoyed. The book actually begins before Aurora's birth, though it is Aurora who tells the story, many years later, from Chile. As in most of Allende's books, women dominate. Women are the strong figures, the ones who matter, the ones who take center stage. The men, for the most part, just seem to hover at the periphery. In PORTRAIT IN SEPIA, however, one man is very fully drawn...Aurora's maternal grandfather, Tao Chi'en, and he is a fascinating and likable figure.
PORTRAIT IN SEPIA encompasses a large cast of characters and is, in many ways, a family novel. Tao Chi'en and his wife, Eliza Sommers, who live in Chinatown, have a daughter, Lynn, a gorgeous woman who has an affair with Matias del Valle. When Lynn becomes pregnant, Matias, who doesn't have his sights set on fatherhood, leaves and Lynn dies in childbirth. Lynn's daughter, Aurora, is raised for a short time by Tao Chi'en and Eliza, but circumstances force Eliza to give Aurora to her paternal grandmother, Paulina del Valle.
Paulina del Valle is a larger-than-life character. She's rich, she's eccentric, she ostentatious, she's irreverent. She lives like a man at a time when it was greatly frowned upon for a woman to live like a man, but...Paulina lives like a man better than most men do. When her fortune begins to run low, Paulina gathers up her butler (who becomes more than a butler) and five-year-old Aurora and heads for Santiago where money goes a lot further.
There, we learn more about Aurora's father, Matias, her uncle Severo and his cousin, Nivea. When Aurora arrives in Chile, she is only five years old. When she is narrating her story, she is three decades older and much has happened. Allende has filled PORTRAIT IN SEPIA with larger-than-life themes...love, lust, betrayal, lies, family loyalty...but somehow they don't come off larger-than-life; they come off as being very intimate. I think part of the problem for me was the way Allende chose to tell her story...and I mean "telling" rather than "showing." This gave a very "muted" tone to the book, which tied in well with the title but definitely left something lacking. I found it very difficult to get emotionally involved with the characters. I often felt as though I were reading a newspaper article rather than a novel.
I did love the fact that Chile, itself, often took center stage in this book. Chile is a fascinating place and most of Allende's best writing is done when describing her native country. Don't expect a book like those of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, though, simply because most of PORTRAIT IN SEPIA is set in South America. There is no magic realism in this book and Chile is a very different place than is Colombia. You won't find the hot, steamy, melancholy jungles of Garcia Marquez here. Instead, Chile is a land of volcanoes and snowy mountaintops, forests and lakes. It's cool more than it's hot. But it's fascinating and the look at Chilean history Allende gives us is just as fascinating as is the story of the del Valle family and Tao Chi'en. Maybe more.
Most of the time, I enjoyed reading PORTRAIT IN SEPIA. I did find all the "telling" to be a bit tiresome and ponderous, though, and I wish Allende would learn to dramatize her stories in scenes rather than simply relating them to us in such a journalistic, factual manner.
I would recommend PORTRAIT IN SEPIA to fans of Allende without hesitation. I think others are going to be a bit disappointed in the book. Don't expect anything like HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS, though. This a very different sort of book and one that is much more "down-to-earth."
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