Monday, February 25, 2013

Of Love and Shadows by Isabel Allende

Of Love and Shadows by Isabel Allende
translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden

This is the story of a woman and a man who loved one another so deeply that they saved themselves from a banal existence. I have carried it in my memory, guarding it carefully so it would not be eroded by time, and it is only now, in the silent nights of this place, that I can finally tell it. I do it for them, and for others who have confided their lives to me saying: Here, write it, or it will be erased by the wind. -author's note
Over the weekend I finished Of Love and Shadows, a novel that (according to the Bookcrossing journal for the copy I have) has been on my bookshelves since April 2006.

Of Love and Shadows is one of Allende's early novels (initial publication in 1984). The copy I have has the cover depicted in this post (1988 Bantam mass market paperback). When I was viciously weeding the book collection post-move, I almost put this book in the Bookcrossing wild-release pile despite the fact that I like Allende's novels. Why? Because of the cover. Not because of the cover art, which is undeniably dated, but because of the blurbs selected for the back-cover text. The review blurbs, while positive, felt backhanded as they all seemed to say "it's good... for a political novel." Overtly political and/or religious novels can be a real turn-off for me, especially when they are preachy, so I would have been perfectly justified in weeding Of Love and Shadows. I didn't, though, and Of Love and Shadows does have a decided political stance, depicting as it does a fictionalized Chile under Pinochet.  But, the novel is about a romance as much as it is about the fate of the desaparecidos and those left to mourn them (see Allende's epigraphic author's note above) and I think that Of Love and Shadows balances the two stories much better than other novels I've read that have attempted to do the same.

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