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Portrait in Sepia

Average Rating 4
( 31 )
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5 Star

(12)

4 Star

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2 Star

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2001

    The Master Has Done It Again !!

    Once again, Allende has shown why she is such a good writer. The protagonist in this story is Aurora del Valle, the granddaughter of Eliza Sommers. Like Eliza, she is a strong, passionate woman who must hold her own in the world she lives in. The characters are well developed and memorable, the setting vivid, and the plot lively. I felt as though I had been temporarily adopted into a Chilean family and loved instantly. I had so much fun, I didn't want to leave. This is a beautiful book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 15, 2010

    Solid Three Stars

    Portrait in Sepia, by Isabel Allende, (published by HarperCollins Publishers Inc. in 2001 in New York) was a distinctive novel filled with twists and turns of surprise. Although the first section of the book starts off slow, it has a unique idea behind it: throughout this entire section you are unaware of who the narrator is. It takes place in Chinatown, where the family of Eliza Sommers, her husband Tao Chi-en, their son, and their daughter Lynn live. The other main family lives just outside of Chinatown, and this is the wealthy family of Paulina del Valle, her husband Feliciano Rodríguez de Santa Cruz, their son Matías, two other sons, and Paulina's nephew, Severo del Valle.
    Within the first section, the narrator, unidentified, tells the story of how she came to be. Lynn Sommers is her mother, who died at her birth, and Matías is her biological father, but Severo del Valle is her legal father. Lynn marries Severo when Matías leaves after she finds out she is pregnant, but then dies soon after the birth of Aurora, the narrator and main character who was finally revealed.
    The second and third sections of the novel are basically telling of the life of Aurora. At first she lived with her grandparents, Eliza and Tao, and this was for five years until her grandfather died and Eliza made the decision to hand Aurora over to Paulina, her other grandmother. Throughout the novel, you find out about Aurora's past, and this includes her relationship with her Grandmother and all of her other family, as well as her love of photography. This fictional memoir has an exceptional way, though it is not always effective, of engaging the reader in order to share Aurora's recollections.
    I did not find this book interesting, but this is merely because it did not fit my personal taste. However, the occasional simile made long paragraphs go by quickly, like when Severo came to visit Aurora, he "made her whirl like a top so he could look at her from every angle" (Allende 221). Engaging similes like this one take a book to a new level. One factor that I did not like, however, was the fact that there is a minimal amount of dialogue in this book. One other thing I did enjoy about Portrait in Sepia was the significance of the actual title. Towards the end the connection is made between the fact that she is a photographer and that the title is about a portrait. I would show a quote, but it would give away the final line of the book, and I would not want to give away this epiphany.
    Reading this was not only enjoyable at times, but it also held some interesting information. At one point, Severo goes to war to honor his country and he participates in The War of the Pacific. By reading this book you are immersed in not only Spanish culture, but also history. I also was exposed to numerous Spanish words throughout the novel, and it was either said the definition, or you had to use context clues or a dictionary to find out. At one point on page 251, for example, chancaca was told to be dark sugar.
    I would recommend this book, but only to certain audiences. I for one am a fan of books that are not as laid back and slow-progressing as this one, but many people have a taste in books that is completely opposite to mine. You would enjoy this novel if you like reading about war, romance, and the general unwinding story of a girl's life. Portrait in Sepia is a novel that to fully appreciate it you have to have a certain preference.

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  • Posted November 28, 2010

    enjoyable for a relaxed read

    I read this while traveling and really like learning about the time period and setting. Thought parts of the story dragged on but liked the characters and overall a good book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2007

    What happened?

    This book had so much potential. The story had complicated, lovable characters, the author has a beautiful talent for crafting exquisite prose, and the setting in luscious Chile around the turn of the century provided for ample plot turns in itself. However, I think that maybe a little too luch time passed in the storyline too many characters appeared and then disappeared. Sometime after Aurora leaves the del Valle home in Santiago to live with the Dominguez family, the story just becomes boring. The novel seemed to be charging towards some sort of vindication for Aurora, something that would reveal her true destiny. But it never happens, she seems to just give up at the end of the book, resigned to living off her father's fortune with a man she can't marry. She never becomes a famous photographer. The book just ends, as if the author didn't know quite what else to do with it. She hurriedly explains in the last pages Aurora's deep secret and what happened to the characters that disappeared in the earlier pages. This plotline falls flat. And, at times, the author seems to stoop to Harlequin-novel type-preposterous-sex-scenes which honestly deplete the realness of the characters. But the author's skill for prose saves this novel from being a total waste of time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2005

    Dissapointed

    Unlike Daughter of Fortune this one had an extremely bland ending. I was very disappointed and felt sorry for the main character as she was betrayed and fell into a friend with benifits relationship that never had any resolution as far as the reader knows of, Very Disapointed

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2005

    Good read, but some hokey writing

    After reading and enjoying Daughter of Fortune, I thought this was a must read. With the exception of some pages of historical set up that seems tedious at times, it was actually pretty enjoyable and read pretty quickly. I like all the characters and all the turns. My biggest beef would have to be that some of the dialogue and language borders on hokey at times. there was one line that read 'he licked her sex'. i cringed at it! almost laughed out loud! But if you're looking for a good read that will keep you enchanted, this is it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2003

    Trully Wonderful

    This book was magnificent. Allende has a pure talent for lulling the reader into a magical tale of passion, heartbreak, and adventure. The historical details of the struggles in Chile and the culture of America in the 1800s only adds to the richness of the story. After reading both Daughter of Fortune and Potrait in Sepia I cannot wait to read more by Allende.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2003

    Good book, disappointing ending

    This book was great, and filled with interesting details. However the ending was predictable and didn't surprise the reader in any way. A great book for a rainy day!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2002

    Worth Reading

    It is an entertaining and lively book with some good lessons in it. It isn't as good as House of the Spirits, but is still worth reading. The courage of the characters is refreshing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2002

    Another Allende Masterpiece

    You just can't go wrong with a novel by this author. If you fell in love with the characters from Portrait in Sepia, you will want to follow up with this book. As usual, the Mr. Allende engrosses the reader in her well developed characters and story lines. She keeps you wondering where people have gone, and delivers when you felt you would never know. She is a true storyteller.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2002

    Great for Insomniacs

    I thought the book was too overly exposed to historical facts which most of her books are. However, I did read the translated version of the story and it probably lost something because it wasn't told in the rich Spanish language which it was originally written. The plot was better establish than in "Daughter of Fortune," but her form of writing is boring. It was extremely hard to finish the book without falling asleep. I recomended this book for insomniacs who need a good night's rest. I have read all her books, trying to discover what the hype is about and found that there should not be one. This is one of her better written books and if I had to read something of hers, I would definately choose this book. I know that there are great Latino writers that do not have the proper connection to have their works translated, it is sad when the public are then exposed to these rich individuals who lack the talent. Isabel Allende is a great journalist, but in my opinion, not a good novelist.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2002

    Wonderful, warm and exiting!

    This book is another success for Isabel Allende. You won't be able to put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2002

    Escapism

    Lovely book, warmth, history, love and enough sexual intrigue without the gory details that muck things up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2010

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    Posted February 2, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2008

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
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