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The House of the Spirits: A Novel

The House of the Spirits: A Novel

4.4 112
by Isabel Allende

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The unforgettable first novel that established Isabel Allende as one of the world’s most gifted and imaginative storytellers.

The House of the Spirits brings to life the triumphs and tragedies of three generations of the Trueba family. The patriarch Esteban is a volatile, proud man whose voracious pursuit of political power is tempered only by his love


The unforgettable first novel that established Isabel Allende as one of the world’s most gifted and imaginative storytellers.

The House of the Spirits brings to life the triumphs and tragedies of three generations of the Trueba family. The patriarch Esteban is a volatile, proud man whose voracious pursuit of political power is tempered only by his love for his delicate wife, Clara, a woman with a mystical connection to the spirit world. When their daughter Blanca embarks on a forbidden love affair in defiance of her implacable father, the result is an unexpected gift to Esteban: his adored granddaughter Alba, a beautiful and strong-willed child who will lead her family and her country into a revolutionary future.

One of the most important novels of the twentieth century, The House of the Spirits is an enthralling epic that spans decades and lives, weaving the personal and the political into a universal story of love, magic, and fate.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review - Alexander Coleman
“Spectacular…An absorbing and distinguished work…The House of the Spirits with its all-informing, generous, and humane sensibility, is a unique achievement, both personal witness and possible allegory of the past, present, and future of Latin America.”
“There are few trips more thrilling than those taken in the imagination of a brilliant novelist. That experience is available in The House of the Spirits … The characters, their joys and their anguish, could not be more contemporary or immediate.”
“A vivid, absorbing work of art . . . [Allende’s] characters are fascinatingly detailed and human.”
The Wall Street Journal
“Analluring, sometimes magical tale… in its tumultuous story of rebellion and loveamong three generations, it is an allegory in which any family should be ableto recognize a bit of itself.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Nothingshort of astonishing.”
The Christian Science Monitor
“Moving and powerful…Her novel captivates and holds the reader throughout…The House of the Spirits is full of marvelous and unforgettable women who add a special dimension to the book.”
The Washington Post - Jonathan Yardley
“The only cause The House of the Spirits embraces is that of humanity, and it does so with such passion, humor, and wisdom that in the end it transcends politics…The result is a novel of force and charm, spaciousness and vigor.”
“Compelling…A splendid and fantastic meditation on a people and a nation.”
The Washington Post
“A novelof force and charm, spaciousness and vigor.”
The New York Times Book Review
“Spectacular…Anabsorbing and distinguished work…A novel of peace and reconciliation...The House of the Spirits, withits all-informing, generous, and humane sensibility, is a unique achievement,both personal witness and possible allegory of the past, present, and future ofLatin America.”
Detroit News
“Magnificent…Imaginative and compelling…A trulyenchanting world where hope is never lost.”

Product Details

Atria Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel Allende is the author of a number of bestselling and critically acclaimed books, including The House of the Spirits, Eva Luna, Stories of Eva Luna, Of Love and Shadows, and Paula. Her latest novel is The Japanese Lover. Her books have been translated into more than thirty-five languages and have sold more than 65 million copies worldwide. She lives in California. Her website is IsabelAllende.com.

Brief Biography

San Rafael, California
Date of Birth:
August 2, 1942
Place of Birth:
Lima, Peru

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The House of the Spirits 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 113 reviews.
Arlene54 More than 1 year ago
As a latinamerican I know what she is talking about: those big wooden houses, the importance of family, social classes differences, tabues, etc. She has recreated our early 1900's society quite accurately. Besides that magic surrounding the principal character! Spirits, unknown forces, besides the force of blood and family as life passes by are of great importance too! I bought the book as a gift, since I have to really, really like something in order to pass it to someone else. Buy this book, you won't regret it.
Nonie15 More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite books of all time! I loved the characters.  It is definitely for someone who likes cultural books that transport you to another era.  I don't want to give much of the plot away.  There are some elements of fantasy in the book, but it is mostly just a beautiful novel.  The imagery is powerful.  The stories of the women in the family is a topic anyone could be interested in.   
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is beautiful -- it swept me away and I wanted to be reading it every second I could. Just wonderful. The characters are so alive and the book is enchanting.
Jordyn-Stokes More than 1 year ago
In “The House of Spirits”, an extraordinary novel written by Isabel Allende, the reader explores the world of a Family in Chile who are all a little different. The story is told from two points of view and enthralls the reader through both of their lives and when put all together depicts a chilling, yet magical, journey of three generations in a demanding time period. Allende use of the tone throughout the novel can almost be described as distant and cold at times. As an example, when Rosa the Beautiful died the man examining her body became so smitten with her beauty he actually molested her body. The only witness to this was Rosa’s little Sister Clara. When describing this scene Allende writes in quick short sentences as if what was happening was not that important giving a sinister vibe to the description. One key character in the novel and also a narrator in some parts is Esteban Trueba. His character goes through many hardships throughout the novel and although strange at times as we go throughout his life the problems he faces are still almost relatable. Another important writing technique used by Allende was the uses of two narrators both strung along together. At first it is a bit confessing because you go through the first couple of pages with the understanding that this story will be told through a third person omniscient and then all of the sudden the word “I” pops up. Pretty much the whole book you are slightly confused but go along with it, it’s not until the end when you finally understand that the writer is Alba, Esteban’s granddaughter, and, as you have already probably figured out early on into the book, Esteban. Giving two different perspectives help establish the reader’s opinions and help create conflict and conflict is a main aspect within the book. Allende writing style can be best describe as very flowing at times its almost repetitiveness which gives the effect that she is writing the story as she thinks up new ideas and goes on, never stopping to correct herself. This gives off comforting sense, because it makes the reader feel like the story is being told orally, like maybe beside a campfire or an old story your grandmother would tell. Over all I love this book and I highly recommend this amazing piece of literature to anyone looking for a great book to curl up with on a rainy Sunday, to dive into on a bus, or anywhere they could have enough light to read with.
dochile More than 1 year ago
Well written.
Mauvaisefille More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books ever!! I read it when I was 13 years old in Literature Class and just fell in love with the story and the characters. This is a great South American story and it also makes me remember my family and country. It is A MUST READ.... A classic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was in 5th grade when my older brother gave me this book. I didn't actually read it until I was in high school. This is one of the best books I have ever read. It makes you cry, it makes you laugh and ultimately live the life of the Truebas through and enchanting saga. I took my time readng it, relishing the details and love that Allende put into this beautiful novel. Once finished you feel as though you have come back from a very very long odyssey. Nothing seems the same anymore and you will never forget the Truebas, for their pain was your pain and their glory was yours as well. I recommend this to anyone to pick up and give it a shot. It is truly one of the most remarkable stories ever told.
Erin Morrison More than 1 year ago
Set in 20th century Chile during the Chilean civil war, Isabel Allende’s “The House of the Spirits: A Novel” is one of her more famous and influential books. This saga follows three generations of a Chilean family-the Trueba’s and through them we learn of the history, oppression, violence, mass murders, and sufferings many Chileans encountered during the Chilean Civil war, which eventually lead to the 1973 coup. A major theme of “The House of the Spirits” the good VS evil concept that Allende uses to paint a more dramatic picture of the evils man is capable of committing during benighted and uncertain times when integrity is lost, civility is virtually absent, and the only compassion found is through the Trueba women during these grueling times of oppression. Allende ties in important events from her life (such as being the niece of Salvador Allende, the socialist president who was elected, but removed from power and killed by Pinochet) to further show the violence and oppression face by all people throughout Chile during that time. The lack of a judgmental tone is justified by the fact of extreme military oppression present in their society. Soldiers came from the same families whose member were persecuted and tortured by the same men. The suffering and oppression faced during the Civil were captured through Jamie Trueba personal experience: “They tied their hands and feet with barbed wire and threw them on their faces in the stall…In an empty lot they were shot on the ground because they could no longer stand, and then their bodies were dynamited” Despite the horrors that unfold though out the novel Allende still offers hope in that reconciliation is possible and people are capable of change. Allende is tells us that each action stems from a good or evil experience, but we are in charge of our reactions and they will positively or negatively impact everyone (including ourselves) around us. Alba, one of the main characters is a compassionate and understanding individual whose spirit captures the meaning of reconciliation for in Spanish her name means “Dawn”. Alba says, “…It would be very difficult for me to avenged all those who should be avenged, because my revenge would be just another part of the same inexorable rite. I have to break that terrible chain. “ Her character is a firm believer that no one person is solely evil and through this quote Allende shows us it is easier for us to seek vengeance, but finding integrity will always triumph. Alba is truly the embodiment of optimism and hope throughout the novel that things will get better. Despite the evil and cruelty that is present in the Novel, Allende always comes back with the concept that there is room for change that lies within our own spirit when we believe we are capable of change, and that we can make our world a better place. This is a book that will captivate your attention, cause you to reflect within yourself and discover your faults, and inspire you make adjustments in your life that will leave a legacy of good will to future generations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had a hard time putting it down. The characters are all so amazing and full of life! Written beautifully, you feel like your there with them through everything!
DoranneLongPTMS More than 1 year ago
A beautifully-written book, involving four generations, revealing vivid historical, personal, and spiritual lives in South America. The stories are sometimes hard to believe but feel very real.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have just bought this book,and read about 4 chapters. I love this book,and each time I turn each page I can not put it down at all. It's a must read book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Adriana_P More than 1 year ago
The House of the spirits published by Everyman's Library was a tragic and thrilling story. Isabel Allende did an amazing job with this novel. Estaban and his granddaughter Alba are looking back into Clara del Valle's journal to put their families story together. Clara is the main character of this novel she is Estaban’s wife (Estaban also narrates parts of the novel.) Clara is the mother of Jaime, Nicolas and Blanca. Thought the story something tragic happen between Clara and Estaban where they do not speak for years. Isabel Allende did an amazing job in showing the drama and pain of the Trueba family during those many years. This novel shows love and the struggle and heartache that comes along with it. This novel was great ! It had me wondering what was going to happen and having me unable to put the book down. Isabel Allende did a great job bring the characters to life sometime i would even feel for the characters as if I knew them. The house of the spirits was a great novel. It brought you along on the Trueba family’s journey. You go through three generations of struggle and violence. Isabel Allende really bring out the Spanish culture in this novel. Yes I recommend this book it is a page turner and overall a great novel.
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BookCore More than 1 year ago
An interesting story of a family in a Latin American country (Peru? not sure) - anyway, it traces the generations from the early 20th century until (I think) sometime in the 60s (it doesn't really make it 100% clear.) Some of the people are just plain weird - Clara, the grandmother, is the weirdest one. But most of them are likeable, with the notable exception of Esteban, the grandfather. He's one of those people who rants whenever those who are less wealthy than he is stand up and ask for more equitable treatment, arguing that "I worked hard, everybody else should too, if you don't want to do backbreaking work 24/7 then you're just worthless, blah blah blah." Give him credit - he DID work his ass off to get rich. However, he conveniently forgets that he owned a lot of land free and clear in the first place. There's never any mention of rent or mortgage payments. So he started out with a huge advantage - if he hadn't had all that land to begin with, his hard work would have made somebody else rich. But he expects other people not to mind working hard to make him rich. He's also a sexist jerk who rapes and abuses peasants on his estate and forces his daughter to marry a weird guy who's into *very* kinky stuff. However, the overall story is awesome, and it might not be possible without the horrible character of Esteban. If the book was full of nothing but nice people, maybe nothing interesting ever would have happened. One cool thing about Isabel Allende - she has a writing style that would get on my nerves if anybody else tried it. She doesn't always stay right on topic, she drifts sometimes from one seemingly unrelated thing to the next. She's one of those rare authors who can do that without irritating me into giving up on the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
La casa de los espíritus by Isabel Allende The House of Spirits is probably Allende's best book and the one responsible for her fame. The movie version helped spread her work in the EE UU. In it, she chronicles the life of a family, as the patriarch grows from a child to an elder, with the world changing all around him while he tries to keep it the same. Through the lenses of the Trueba family, we follow the portion of Chilean history that eventually leads to the 1973 coup, where the CIA deposed Salvador Allende. Of course, the author is the niece of Salvador Allende, the socialist president democratically elected that was removed from power and killed by Pinochet, aided by the American government. The book is based on clashes; old versus young, communists vs conservatives, landlords vs tenants. As the story unfolds, we view the extremist positions that each side takes: landlords attacking tenants, conservatives attacking communists, and vice versa. From the polarization of positions emerges a military dictatorship that no one wanted, but that was a product of the system setup by class warfare. The book tells the story of Clara del Valle, a young girl who is able to predict every event in her life although not able to change the future. When her uncle Marcos dies and his body is delivered to her house, along with a puppy called Barrábas, Clara decides to start keeping a journal, which is later used by her husband Esteban and granddaughter Alba to piece together the story of their family. Clara's sister, Rosa the beautiful is engaged to Esteban Trueba, until one day she is accidentally poisoned instead of her father. Clara stops talking as a reaction to this event. Esteban continues to work hard and through his determination makes a fortune out of his estate, Trés Marias. Nine years later he returns to the city and visits the del Valle family again. This time he intends to get engaged to Clara who surprises everyone by talking again and telling Esteban she will marry him. From then on, this compelling story continues to detail the lives of the del Valle / Trueba family as well as the social and political on goings of the country. Magical Realism follows the female characters of the Trueba family. The peasants at Trés Marias are a perfect example of this, where the fight between the social classes is so evident and this book gives you a view from both angles. Esteban oppressed the peasants andf sired a child that later haunts him. I liked how the personal and political aspects are woven together in a novel that analyzes the changes in the different generations of the family as well as those happening in the country, with the magical touch of the del Valle family to enhance the story but not ruin it with unrealistic occurrences. Along with "Paula," and "Hija de La Fortuna" they are the best from Allende. Lately her books are too commercial and not worth reading.
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