0158 | The House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende

Context: Read this while visiting our friends who live next to this old rail bridge on the Tyne river, Northumberland.

If you like One Hundred Years of Solitude, you’re going to love this. So what does someone who had this to say about that book, have to say about The House of The Spirits? Well, after I’d got over the initial shock, I kept repeating Allende isn’t Marquez like a mantra. It seemed to work, at least in part.

Maybe it’s a South American thing. You’ve got the endless generations of a family, a cast of characters that would make Shakespeare think of cutbacks, metaphysics and supernatural happenings galore and, of course, four page paragraphs. So far, it’s just a rip off of Marquez isn’t it.

Well no it isn’t. Yes, I think she was heavily influenced by Marquez and borrows his stylistic phrasing almost verbatim. But what she includes which Marquez doesn’t seem to bother with, is relevancy to the life of the reader.

Allende is the product of the political scene of S. America and this is what this novel is full of. Yes, it’s a family saga but throughout it’s a saga of politics. There’s love and revenge and wealth and poverty and all that good sagas are made of. Permeating all this though is politics.

So, did I enjoy it. Not really. There was a really good four page paragraph (I kid you not) right near the end which was sublime. But, on the whole, I thought it was boring and, because of my reading of Marquez and general knowledge of South American political history, a bit predictable.

Barrabas came to us by sea, the child Clara wrote in her delicate calligraphy.

It begins like this: Barrabas came to us by sea…

rubbish | poor | mediocre | okay | good | very good | excellent | superb

Similar Posts


  1. I read this recently and struggled with it as I alternated between disliking it and loving it. It was a strange book and I think I should try something else of hers to see what I feel. I have also tried Marquez before (years ago) and couldn’t get on with that either. I should try and dig out my copy again!

  2. I’m not a fan of magical realism so I’m a little hesitant to read “The House Of The Spirits.” However, I’m going to see Isabel Allende give talk in about a month and decided to read something of hers. I picked the most ‘realistic’ work out of everything she’s written – it’s called “The Sum Of Our Days” and it’s just marvelous! I can’t recommend it enough!! She shares stories of her life after she had moved to the US and created what she calls “her tribe” a new family in the new land. It is so very good, please, give Isabel a second chance 🙂

    1. I will give her a second chance! In fact, I have Love and Shadows or something by her to be read so I will read another one of hers. But I have never read a South American author that I have enjoyed. Not one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.