Ines of My Soulby Isabel Allende
Born into a poor family in Spain, Inés, a seamstress, finds herself condemned to a life of hard work without reward or hope for the future. It is the sixteenth century, the beginning of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, and when her shiftless husband disappears to the New World, Inés uses the opportunity to search for him as an excuse to flee her… See more details below
Born into a poor family in Spain, Inés, a seamstress, finds herself condemned to a life of hard work without reward or hope for the future. It is the sixteenth century, the beginning of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, and when her shiftless husband disappears to the New World, Inés uses the opportunity to search for him as an excuse to flee her stifling homeland and seek adventure. After her treacherous journey takes her to Peru, she learns that her husband has died in battle. Soon she begins a fiery love affair with a man who will change the course of her life: Pedro de Valdivia, war hero and field marshal to the famed Francisco Pizarro.
Valdivia's dream is to succeed where other Spaniards have failed: to become the conquerer of Chile. The natives of Chile are fearsome warriors, and the land is rumored to be barren of gold, but this suits Valdivia, who seeks only honor and glory. Together the lovers Inés Suárez and Pedro de Valdivia will build the new city of Santiago, and they will wage a bloody, ruthless war against the indigenous Chileans—the fierce local Indians led by the chief Michimalonko, and the even fiercer Mapuche from the south. The horrific struggle will change them forever, pulling each of them toward their separate destinies.
Inés of My Soul is a work of breathtaking scope: meticulously researched, it engagingly dramatizes the known events of Inés Suárez's life, crafting them into a novel full of the narrative brilliance and passion readers have come to expect from Isabel Allende.
Brown has created something of a cottage industry in performing Isabel Allende's novels. And it's no wonder that she's chosen for these meaty roles: the Emmy-winning actress brings a pitch-perfect sensibility to Allende's lyrical prose and wild, almost charmed, settings. In this case, Allende turns from magical realism to historical reality in embroidering the story of Inés Suarez (1507–1580), the spirited conquistadora who helped found the nation of Chile. Brown not only captures Inés's fortitude and determination but also her humor. She keeps the pacing relatively quick despite the novel's length and does justice to the impressive array of characters, although some of the soldiers' voices are less distinctive than those of the comparatively few female characters. Brown's intonation, with its softened consonants and beautiful, rounded accent, can transport listeners to a different time and place, and her pronunciation of Spanish words is dead-on. Each disc sets the mood with the music of—what else?—Spanish guitar. This audiobook is a meaty empanada filled with delights. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 21). (Dec.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Ines of My SoulA Novel
By Isabel Allende
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Isabel Allende
All right reserved.
I am Inés Suárez, a townswoman of the loyal city of Santiago de Nueva Extremadura in the Kingdom of Chile, writing in the year of Our Lord 1580. I am not sure of the exact date of my birth, but according to my mother I was born following the famine and deadly plague that ravaged Spain upon the death of Philip the Handsome. I do not believe that the death of the king provoked the plague, as people said as they watched the progress of the funeral cortège, which left the odor of bitter almonds floating in the air for days, but one never knows. Queen Juana, still young and beautiful, traveled across Castile for more than two years, carrying her husband's catafalque from one side of the country to the other, opening it from time to time to kiss her husband's lips, hoping that he would revive.
Despite the embalmer's emollients, The Handsome stank. When I came into the world, the unlucky queen, by then royally insane, was secluded in the palace at Tordesillas with the corpse of her consort. That means that my heart has beaten for at least seventy winters, and that I am destined to die before this Christmas. I could say that a Gypsy on the shores of the Río Jerte divined the date of my death, but that would be one of those untruths one reads in a book and then, because it is in print, appears to be true. All theGypsy did was predict a long life for me, which they always do in return for a coin. It is my reckless heart that tells me that the end is near.
I always knew that I would die an old woman, in peace and in my bed, like all the women of my family. That is why I never hesitated to confront danger, since no one is carried off to the other world before the appointed hour. "You will be dying a little old woman, I tell you, señorayyy," Catalina would reassure me--her pleasant Peruvian Spanish trailing out the word--when the obstinate galloping hoof beats I felt in my chest drove me to the ground. I have forgotten Catalina's Quechua name, and now it is too late to ask because I buried her in the patio of my house many years ago, but I have absolute faith in the precision and veracity of her prophecies. Catalina entered my service in the ancient city of Cuzco, the jewel of the Incas, during the era of Francisco Pizarro, that fearless bastard who, if one listens to loose tongues, once herded pigs in Spain and ended up as the Marqués Gobernador of Peru, crushed by his ambition and multiple betrayals.
Such are the ironies of this new world of the Americas, where traditional laws have no bearing, and society is completely scrambled: saints and sinners, Whites, Blacks, Browns, Indians, Mestizos, nobles, and peasants. Any one among us can find himself in chains, branded with red-hot iron, and the next day be elevated by a turn of fortune. I have lived more than forty years in the New World and still I am not accustomed to the lack of order, though I myself have benefited from it. Had I stayed in the town of my birth I would today be an old, old woman, poor, and blind from tatting so much lace by the light of a candle. There I would be Inés, the seamstress on the street of the aqueduct. Here I am doña Inés Suárez, a highly placed señora, widow of The Most Excellent Gobernador don Rodrigo de Quiroga, conquistador and founder of the Kingdom of Chile.
So, I am at least seventy years old, as I was saying, years well-lived, but my soul and my heart, still caught in a fissure of my youth, wonder what devilish thing has happened to my body. When I look at myself in my silver mirror, Rodrigo's first gift to me when we were wed, I do not recognize the grandmother with a crown of white hair who looks back at me. Who is that person mocking the true Inés? I look more closely, with the hope of finding in the depths of the mirror the girl with braids and scraped knees I once was, the young girl who escaped to the back gardens to make love, the mature and passionate woman who slept wrapped in Rodrigo de Quiroga's arms. They are all crouching back there, I am sure, but I cannot seem to see them. I do not ride my mare any longer, or wear my coat of mail and my sword, but it is not for lack of spirit--that I have always had more than enough of--it is only because my body has betrayed me. I have very little strength, my joints hurt, my bones are icy, and my sight is hazy. Without my scribe's spectacles, which I had sent from Peru, I would not be able to write these pages. I wanted to go with Rodrigo--may God hold him in his Holy Bosom--in his last battle against the Mapuche nation, but he would not let me. He laughed. "You are very old for that, Inés." "No more than you," I replied, although that wasn't true, he was several younger than I. We believed we would never see each other again but we made our good-byes without tears, certain that we would be reunited in the next life. I had known for some time that Rodrigo's days were numbered, even though he did everything he could to hide it. He never complained, but bore the pain with clenched teeth, and only the cold sweat on his brow betrayed his suffering.
He was feverish when he set off, and had a suppurating pustule on one leg that all my remedies and prayers had not cured. He was going to fulfil his desire to die like a soldier, in the heat of combat, not flat on his back in bed like an old man. I, on the other hand, wanted to be with him to hold his head at that last instant, and to tell him how much I cherished the love he had lavished on me throughout our long lives.
Excerpted from Ines of My Soul by Isabel Allende Copyright © 2006 by Isabel Allende. Excerpted by permission.
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