With an enchanting blend of magical realism, politics, and romance reminiscent of her classic bestseller The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende presents a soul-baring memoir that seizes the reader like a novel of suspense.
Written for her daughter Paula when she became ill and slipped into a coma, Paula is the colorful story of Allende's life -- from her early years in her native Chile, through the turbulent military coup of 1973, to the subsequent dictatorship and her family's years of exile. In the telling, bizarre ancestors reveal themselves, delightful and bitter childhood memories surface, enthralling anecdotes of youthful years are narrated and intimate secrets are softly whispered.
In an exorcism of death and a celebration of life, Isabel Allende explores the past, questions the gods, and creates a magical book that carries the reader from tears to laughter, from terror to sensuality to wisdom. In Paula, readers will come to understand that the miraculous world of her novels is the world Isabel Allende inhabits -- it is her enchanted reality.
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Great read!User Review - Overstock.com
Paragraphs a bit long. A dictionary must be close at hand to look up unusual words, but all in all this book is very informational and best of all it is based on a true story.
PaulaUser Review - Book Verdict
In December 1991, the 28-year-old daughter of noted novelist Allende fell desperately ill and then slid into a coma, struck down by the inherited disease porphyria. As she nursed Paula daily in a hospital in Madrid, Allende kept a journal in which she told her daughter her life story: "I have the whole future ahead of me. I want to give it to you, Paula, because you have lost yours." The result is a deeply affecting tale, written in the rich, luminous prose typical of Allende's novels, that investigates the sources of her writing as it paints a vivid portrait of Chile moving from postcolonial propriety to Socialist experiment to Pinochet's oppression. In Part 2, written after Paula was brought back to California, the tone changes as Allende realizes that her daughter will never revive. In the remainder of the book Allende speaks not to Paula but about Paula, relating the effort it took to let her die peacefully. Pointing out that until the 20th century--and even now in all but the most industrially advanced countries--losing a child was a common experience, she gives some insight into what it takes to bear that loss. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/95.]--Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"