26 Jan Fiesty & Strong Feminist Reading – Violeta by Isabel Allende
This is one of my most anticipated reads for 2022. I wouldn’t call myself an Allende fan but A Long Petal of the Sea changed the way I looked at and read Allende. I was of the small few that thought her writing ‘too big’ for me. A literary giant that I wasn’t qualified to read. It’s obviously nonsense because she is extremely accessible as a writer, and A Long Petal of the Sea showed me just how Allende’s writing was so captivating and expansive. Scenes that were slow-burning needed to be slow-burning and scenes that needed rapid-punchy movement got it without any heaviness.
So with ALL that said, Violeta was a book I really and truly wanted to read.
About the Book
This sweeping novel from the New York Times bestselling author of A Long Petal of the Sea tells the epic story of Violeta del Valle, a woman whose life spans one hundred years and bears witness to the greatest upheavals of the twentieth century.
Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family of five boisterous sons. From the start, her life will be marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth.
Through her father’s prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses all and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling. . . .
She tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, times of both poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. Her life will be shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women’s rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and, ultimately, not one but two pandemics.
Told through the eyes of a woman whose unforgettable passion, determination, and sense of humor will carry her through a lifetime of upheaval, Isabel Allende once more brings us an epic that is both fiercely inspiring and deeply emotional.
Set in the form of a letter to her grandson, Violeta tells us the reader (and her grandson) of her very colourful life. From the day she was born, through her life of her love, loss of love, scorn, shame, poverty, wealth, motherhood and the ultimate sacrifice she made as a woman. A slight feminist thread runs through this novel, as it weaves the story of one woman living a woman’s life surrounded by men – some who are good to her, and others not so much. As she watches how the world treats her aunts, her mother, her governess, her daughter; but also how the world treats her brothers, father, husband, lovers and her son.
It’s a wonderful vast novel that wraps around you as you slowly sink into the world, smells, colours and culture of South America – urban and rural. This is the perfect cake and tea novel. Not to dumb it down, or strip it of it’s literary weight, but because it’s a novel you sit down with; have a long read and savour it; you lick the spoon, and gather up the crumbs, slowly and elegantly.
It’s a superb novel. One that I would happily recommend to anyone looking for a read that sweeps you up and makes you forget the world around you.
4 out of 5 stars
Thank you to Jonathan Ball Publishers for this copy.