Beyond the Ties of Blood

Overview

In the tradition of Isabel Allende, a family saga that explores the lives touched by the tragedies of Chile's vibrant historyImprisoned and tortured in the aftermath of the 1973 coup while her love, Manuel, is savagely murdered, Eugenia Aldunate is a rare survivor of the countless "disappeared" that would haunt Chile's collective memory for decades. While still in prison, Eugenia discovers she is pregnant and is exiled to Mexico, then the United States to raise her daughter alone, forbidden to return. She builds ...

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Beyond the Ties of Blood: A Novel

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Overview

In the tradition of Isabel Allende, a family saga that explores the lives touched by the tragedies of Chile's vibrant historyImprisoned and tortured in the aftermath of the 1973 coup while her love, Manuel, is savagely murdered, Eugenia Aldunate is a rare survivor of the countless "disappeared" that would haunt Chile's collective memory for decades. While still in prison, Eugenia discovers she is pregnant and is exiled to Mexico, then the United States to raise her daughter alone, forbidden to return. She builds a quiet life for herself, but the scars on her arms to do not fade. Horrific nightmares plague Eugenia each night, while each morning she aches for her homeland.Nearly twenty years after her exile, Eugenia is called back to Chile to testify in Manuel's murder and seek justice for the others who disappeared. A rare living witness to these "camps," Eugenia must come to grips with the legacy of violence and trauma inflicted by Pinochet's dictatorship and find truth and solace in the stories of those she left behind.In the tradition of Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss and Julia Alvarez's In the Time of Butterflies, Beyond the Ties of Blood is a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit and the transcendence of family.

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Editorial Reviews

NBC Latino
“Chilean history—intricately woven and dramatic in its narrative—has been the subject of several novels, but not in a manner as compelling as Florencia Mallon’s Beyond the Ties of Blood. A powerful story.”
Curtis Sittenfeld
“Engrossing and complex. Florencia Mallon immerses readers in a vivid world in which family, political turmoil,and romance intersect. A powerful story told with wisdom and compassion.”
Iris Gomez
“A compelling account of the lasting effects of torture on one family. What are the consequences of knowing ‘the truth?'”
Publishers Weekly
In Mallon’s debut novel, college student Eugenia Aldunate falls madly for Manuel Bronstein, a leftist rebel, during Pinochet’s brutal ascension in Chile. Manuel’s activism lands them both in prison, where they’re tortured, and where Eugenia learns that she’s pregnant. After her release, she flees to Mexico, where she raises her daughter, Laura, and becomes a human rights journalist. Years later, while Eugenia is on a teaching fellowship in Boston, Pinochet is deposed and Eugenia is asked to testify before Chile’s Truth Commission. Still haunted by the past, she returns to a family and country that have grown alien to her, and confronts the staggering losses that have made her alien to herself. Mallon conveys both the breathtakingly epic and heartbreakingly personal fallout of the bloody 1973 coup, successfully highlighting the sacrifices borne by generations of women and the small-scale moral dislocation of large-scale atrocity. But she also leans heavily on hackneyed conventions that flatten her extraordinary characters, rendering their relationships perfunctory and the plot progression mechanical. Eugenia, Laura, and Sara, all of them ostensibly strong, accomplished women, are buoyed more by emotion than conviction, a quality that elevates them as spiritual martyrs while diminishing their agency and authenticity. Agent: Lisa Grubka, Foundry Literary + Media. (June 6)
Arturo Arias
“Challenges the reader to reconsider their perceptions of history. Bold, fascinating, and highly original.”
Greg Grandin
“Florencia Mallon combines a historian’s sensitivity and an ethnographer’s attention to culture to capture life in the midst of rapid social transformation.”
Library Journal
Mallon's debut novel introduces Eugenia Aldunate, who survived the violence that struck Chile when Augusto Pinochet rose to power in 1973. Though tortured while in a prison camp, she avoids the fate of her rebel lover, Manuel. After his brutal murder, he joins the ranks of thousands of "disappeared," the distinctive legacy of Pinochet's ruthless reign. Mallon moves deftly between Eugenia's present life of exile in Boston, where she lives with her daughter, Laura, and a violent past that still haunts her. Old wounds reopen when Eugenia is called back to Chile to testify about her imprisonment and suffering. VERDICT The novel's pace falters occasionally; Eugenia's story can plod along, and, while interesting, a less developed plotline concerning Tonia, an indigenous Mapuche woman, sometimes disrupts the story's rhythm. However, Mallon excels at revealing the deep wounds that the dictatorship inflicted not just on its enemies, but on their loved ones—indeed, on the entire Chilean psyche. Mallon's novel also pays tribute to the tremendous, complicated powers of family and the comfort and solace they can sometimes provide.—Faye A. Chadwell, Oregon State Univ. Libs., Corvallis
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605984612
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 7/1/2013
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Florencia Mallon was raised in Santiago, Chile and the U.S. and educated at Harvard and Yale. She is the head of the History department at the University of Wisconsin and has written three non-fiction books about Latin American history. Florencia has been awarded a Guggenheim and a Fulbright fellowship and resides in Madison, Wisconsin.

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