That September 2, 1939, the day of the Spanish exiles’ splendid arrival in Chile, the Second World War broke out in Europe.
Victor Dalmau is a young doctor when he is caught up in the Spanish Civil War, a tragedy that leaves his life – and the fate of his country – forever changed. Together with his sister-in-law, the pianist Roser Bruguera, he is forced out of his beloved Barcelona and into exile.
When opportunity to seek refuge in Chile arises, they take it, boarding a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda to the promised ‘long petal of sea and wine and snow’ over the seas. There, they find themselves enmeshed in a rich web of characters who come together in love and tragedy over the course of four generations, destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world.
A masterful work of historical fiction about hope, exile and belonging, A Long Petal of the Sea is Isabel Allende at the height of her powers.
HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW
This story follows the lives of Victor Dalmau and his journey to becoming a doctor and surgeon and his brother’s fiance, pianist Roser Bruguera and their subsequent marriage of convenience in order to flee their homeland Spain, after the Spanish civil war. The book reads more like a documentary than a story but still fascinating. The Spanish civil war is something I knew little about really, until now. There are very detailed facts about the war and take over, woven in the pages between Victor and Roser’s journey and subsequent arrival to take refuge in Chile and how all their lives their past never went away.
I couldn’t help but love this couple, who felt loyalty to Victor’s brother and yet became the best of friends, feeling much more than friends a lot of the time. It was impossible for them to divorce for fear of being exiled from Chile. Roser gave birth to a son, Victor’s brother’s baby, which Victor brought up as his own.
There is an abundance of characters, far too many that I could keep track of but a few stuck clearly in my mind. One particular story I found haunting, one where honour in the family and keeping the family name intact was far more important than feelings. And a priest I didn’t like becoming one which enraged me.
The story follows the couple right up to the end of their lives, and what lives they had!
This is a heavy read in places but really needed to be able to get the full impact it all had on Victor, Roser and their family. Truly fascinating.
I wish to thank NetGalley and the publisher for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.
HERE IS A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel Allende is the author of The House of the Spirits, Daughter of Fortune, Paula, My Invented Country and The Japanese Lover. Her books have been translated into more than 35 languages and have sold over 65 million copies worldwide. The Japanese Lover was an international and New York Times bestseller. She lives in California.