Chile’s book of the month: Isabel Allende’s The House of Spirits

A captivating exploration of love, politics and family in the first of our series on what to read before, after or during your trip to Chile.   

There’s no better way to understand Chile than through its literature, and no better place to start than Isabel Allende’s world-renowned novel La casa de los espíritus (“The House of the Spirits”).
Allende is one of Chile’s most internationally recognized authors in a country well respected at home and abroad for its literary and poetic tradition. A relative of Salvador Allende, the deposed former president of Chile, Isabel provides a unique perspective on Chilean history and culture.
Allende’s 18 books have sold over 56 million copies worldwide, leading the Latin American Herald Tribune to call her “the world’s most widely-read Spanish-language author.” Her accomplishments have also earned her a place on Forbes Magazine’s “10 Most Powerful Women Writers,” a testament to her position on the global literary scene.
La casa de los espíritus provides an epic journey through Chile’s history from the 1920’s to the military coup of 1973. While a work of fiction, it tells the story of the Trueba family over four generations in an unnamed Latin American country that mirrors many elements of Chilean culture and history.
Allende beautifully illustrates the Chilean campo, or countryside, and captures the challenges that faced landowners and their workers in post-colonial Chile. The novel also provides a human angle to the complex period of history surrounding Chile’s military coup.
Most importantly, the characters of this novel confront many of same struggles that faced the Chilean people, and some that still affect the country to this day – similar to the characters of La casa de los espíritus, the political is still very personal in Chile.
La casa de los espíritus offers an intimate exploration of Chilean identity, made all the more powerful by its use of magical realism that has defined much of Latin America. Make your understanding of Chile complete through this captivating story about love, politics, and family through the lens of one of Chile’s most celebrated authors.