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Ines of My Soul

Ines of My Soul

3.5 27
by Isabel Allende, Margaret Sayers Peden (Translator), Margaret Sayers Peden (Translator)

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In the early years of the conquest of the Americas, Inés Suárez, a seamstress condemned to a life of toil, flees Spain to seek adventure in the New World. As Inés makes her way to Chile, she begins a fiery romance with Pedro de Valdivia, war hero and field marshal to the famed Francisco Pizarro. Together the lovers will build the new city of Santiago


In the early years of the conquest of the Americas, Inés Suárez, a seamstress condemned to a life of toil, flees Spain to seek adventure in the New World. As Inés makes her way to Chile, she begins a fiery romance with Pedro de Valdivia, war hero and field marshal to the famed Francisco Pizarro. Together the lovers will build the new city of Santiago, and they will wage war against the indigenous Chileans—a bloody struggle that will change Inés and Valdivia forever, inexorably pulling each of them toward separate destinies.

Inés of My Soul is a work of breathtaking scope that masterfully dramatizes the known events of Inés Suárez's life, crafting them into a novel rich with the narrative brilliance and passion readers have come to expect from Isabel Allende.

Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Yardley
“Vivid and convincing….”
“Thoroughly researched…a colorful, entertaining tale of the hardscrabble adventures and desperate deeds of some of our hemisphere’s first Europeans”
American Way
“Allende always delivers. This time it’s with an enchanting historical fiction about Chile.”
New York Times Book Review
“Vivid…Allende’s reach is broad…Allende succeeds in resurrecting a woman from history and endowing her with the gravitas of a hero.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“A master storyteller.”
Baltimore Sun
“Compelling...a complex and truly rich tale”
Atlantic Monthly
“Well-grounded...As always, Allende focuses on the story.”
“A powerfully evocative narrative...Allende is at her best here.”
New York Times
“earthy and ironic.”
Los Angeles Times
“Allende is a master storyteller at the peak of her powers, as she demonstrates in her latest novel.”
Chicago Sun-Times
“Riveting...A colorful and clear-eyed portrait...Suarez’s story is so fabulous and life-affirming…that it simply captivates”
Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Allende is a genius.”
Miami Herald
“Possesses the eyes, ears, mind, heart and pluck to manufacture generous and feisty fiction.”
Wichita Eagle
“An elegant work of historical fiction.”
Christian Science Monitor
“engrossing…Fans of Allende’s earlier novels will…find enjoyment in INES OF MY SOUL.”
Charlotte Observer
“Ines of My Soul is a powerful novel...[Ines] is, in Allende’s skilled hands, a wholly human character.”
The Globe and Mail
“Ines of My Soul is an absorbing and illuminating book.”
USA Today
“Allende…has written her surest work since THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Allende has given [Ines] an instantly appealing voice...even the most unpliable reader will be hooked.”
Providence Journal
“Brilliant…A beautifully crafted work by one of the finest writers of our time.”
Boston Globe
“Might be Allende’s best novel, better even than THE HOUSE OF SPIRITS.”
Rocky Mountain News
“A thourough and unflinching account…Allende...keeps the pages turning. It’s a joy to see Ines triumph.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“Thrilling epic...the memoir she ascribes to Ines promotes a more democratic view of how the New World was settled.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Surely one of the most graceful and yet haunting writers alive.”
San Diego Union-Tribune
“Allende’s keen intelligence and lively prose keep readers wishing for more.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Fiction about the conquistador experience…can’t possibly get better”
“Fiction about the conquistador experience…can’t possibly get better”
Publishers Weekly

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
Library Journal
Allende (The House of the Spirits) once again features a strong woman in her new novel, which is based on the life of In s Suarez, who came to the Americas around 1537 in search of a wayward husband. After learning of his death, she joins Pedro de Valdivia, the conqueror of Chile, as his mistress and fellow conquistador in the defense of Santiago against the Native Americans. This fictionalized account of one of Chile's national heroines is meticulously researched and offers a detailed account of a little-known time period in history, as an older In s recounts her life story. Unfortunately, this passive retelling of hardships, battles, and love affairs becomes dry, tedious, and repetitive. Seldom are readers allowed to experience the story as it happens. Instead of eagerly anticipating each part of an unfolding drama, they may have to force themselves to pick the book up again and soldier onward, much as In s and her comrades did as they marched through the deserts of South America. Recommended for Allende's popularity. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/06.] Kellie Gillespie, City of Mesa Lib., AZ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Chilean author Allende (Zorro, 2005, etc.) recounts the life of a national heroine in this historical novel. In‚s Su rez was born in a small Spanish village in 1507. By the time she died, in 1580, she had journeyed to the New World, become the lover of the first governor of Chile and defended the city of Santiago when it was attacked by natives. The conquistadora's life was full of daring, intrigue and passionate romance, but much of the excitement of this extraordinary woman's adventure is lost in Allende's version. In a bibliographical note, the author explains that she spent several years doing research for this novel. It shows, unfortunately, as she frequently assumes a voice more suited to an encyclopedia: "The isthmus of Panam is a narrow strip of land that separates our European ocean from the South Sea, which is now called the Pacific." Such information ultimately overwhelms the story. Character development happens in dry, rushed bursts of exposition, and Allende frequently chooses clich‚ over real description: "My relationship with Pedro de Valdivia turned my life upside down. . . . One day without seeing him and I was feverish. One night without being in his arms was torment." The narrative device that Allende has chosen-the novel is a letter from Su rez to her adopted daughter-is boring and distracting. Su rez frequently includes information that her adopted daughter surely would have known; she manages to transcribe whole conversations to which she was not privy; and many of the historical details-casualty statistics from the sacking of Rome in 1527, for example-seem much more like something the author found in a reference work than anything her protagonist was likely to havebeen privy to. Turgid and detached-homework masquerading as epic.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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P.S. Series
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5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.79(d)

Read an Excerpt

Ines of My Soul
A Novel

Chapter One

Europe 1500-1537

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 the Gypsy 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 iswhy 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.

Ines of My Soul
A Novel
. Copyright © by Isabel Allende. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Jonathan Yardley
“Vivid and convincing….”

Meet the Author

Isabel Allende is the author of twelve works of fiction, including the New York Times bestsellers Maya’s Notebook, Island Beneath the Sea, Inés of My Soul, Daughter of Fortune, and a novel that has become a world-renowned classic, The House of the Spirits. Born in Peru and raised in Chile, she lives in California.

Brief Biography

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

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Ines of My Soul 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ines of my soul written by Isabel Allende is about a girl named Ines Suarez. She was born into a poor family in Spain, a seamstress girl, finds herself condemned to a life of hard work without reward or hope for the future. Her husband left to Peru and doesn’t come back for a while and she decides that she wants to get out and explore more so she uses the excuse that she was trying to find him but really just wants to have an adventure. So Ines goes with her niece Constantine. In search of her husband she hears news about something that changed her life forever. After being in Peru for a while Ines meets a man named Pedro Valdivia. She falls madly in love with him and soon after they get married. He was a war hero and field marshal to Francisco Pizarro. So, together Ines and Pedro build a new city of Santiago and start a ruthless war against indigenous Chileans. They both encounter horrible struggles that later pull them farther apart than ever before. I thought this book was pretty good as a first time reader of a book written by and about Hispanic stories it was very interesting. This book was about love and adventure which are my favorite types of books to read. I mostly would recommend this book to young teens and women. Guys honestly would mostly likely find it cheesy and boring. In the beginning I thought it was kind of slow and didn’t make much sense to me but as I kept going more and more thoughts came about in my mind that kept me literally on the edge of my seat. So, yes I do like this book and I do recommend it to people who love romance and adventures.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ines of My Soul, written by Isabel Allende, is a novel written about a young woman, who lived in the 1500's, named Ines Suarez. Ines ventures away from her home town Plasencia, Spain to go in search of her husband Juan de Malaga. Juan has left her, because of his loss of marital lust soon after there marriage and also to search for El Dorado, the lost city of gold. Ines, now sentenced to be a "widow of the new world", is to strong of woman to sit around for the rest of her life, sentenced to nothing but her skill of sewing and cooking. In thinking about her personal needs, Ines decides that she should venture to Peru with her niece, Constanza. After Ines and her niece arrive in Peru, she gets into a fight with a man, which ends in his death. Ines is very regretful of this action because now she is a wanted woman of this unknown land. When on the run, Ines meets a man named Pedro de Valdivia, in which she falls in love with immediately after their first meeting. It is after this that she decides to go on a great adventure with Pedro scaling over a large Chilean desert and coming in contact with the Mapuche Indians, who are ruled by chief Michimalonko. This novel tells the tails of great warriors, the hardships and also prosperities which you can reach with your heart set to what it wants. I did not like this novel although because it deserves a very strong and happy ending, which is not the case. I will say that the rest of the novel was strongly written although because once into it, it got me on the edge of my seat to turn the pages to see what may lie on the other side. If it had not been for the dreary ending, this would definatley be on my recommendation list for anyone who likes a good read about love and adventure.
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Beegle More than 1 year ago
Although it was very brutal, I liked learning about the Spanish conquests in the Americas and Chile in particular. The book got off to a good start, but turned into more of a historical narative than a novel. I thought it was not up to Allende standard.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book reminded me of why I am a fan of Allende's. Her writing flows. Her characters breathe. The story line never falters. All this, and a touch of the mystical besides! Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
cherrymoon13 More than 1 year ago
If you like historical novels then this one is a 5 star choice. What an amazing book. Wow. The story, plot, characters, actual history, etc. You are almost literally transported into the book with such detail and accuracy of description. Ines' story is one every female should know about. (Though I do feel like the author actually downplayed her a bit in comparison to what I've read about her elsewhere. And it just bugged me that the cover girl who's supposed to be Ines is obviously of indian/native american decent which is stupid because the main character is from spain!)
But the book was stupendous. Could not put it down and finished it in record time.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I love Isabel Allende's work. Once again she has satisfied my expectations with an interesting, hard to put down novel. If you are into romance and history, you'll love her intricate plots and colorful characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found Ines to be a very rich and warm main character.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I did not enjoy this book as much as I did Daughter of Fortune but that doesn¿t mean that this book is not interesting. Many times I felt that the main character¿s story became secondary to the historical accounts of the conquering of Chile. Ines of My Soul is very interesting especially if you like to read about history.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading Zorro (by Mrs. Allende) I was expecting Ines of my soul to be a good read (as other novels she had written) but ended up with a not so good taste in my mouth. It is engaging and entertaining at the beginning which is short, then you go into boring details of characters followed by war episodes that are extremely long and repetitive, so much that the main characters lose strength. You end up feeling this book title should have been 'The war between Spaniards and Mapuches' It is said that Ines Suarez was the only Spanish woman conqueror in Chile's history and this novel does not fortify or diminish her image, it comes across as a plain, flat account.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Isabel Allende continues to amaze me with her novels. Like all of her works, Inés of my Soul transposes the reader right into the story and gives you an account of the founding of the Kingdom of Chile. It is true, that in trying to keep with the accuracy of history, the novel at times can become slightly repetitive and bore down with detail, but at the same time creates a surreal account of the life of Inés Suarez and the other founders of Chile that is still full of human emotion that I could just not stop reading. Over all, an incredible book that I would recommend to anyone, especially those that enjoys Allende¿s work or history.