My Invented Country: A Memoir

( 8 )

Overview

Isabel Allende evokes the magnificent landscapes of her country; a charming, idiosyncratic Chilean people with a violent history and an indomitable spirit; and the politics, religion, myth, and magic of her homeland that she carries with her even today.

The book circles around two life-changing moments. The assassination of her uncle Salvador Allende Gossens on September 11, 1973, sent her into exile and transformed her into a literary writer. And the terrorist attacks of ...

See more details below
Paperback (First Perennial Edition)
$9.03
BN.com price
(Save 35%)$13.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (109) from $1.99   
  • New (9) from $3.49   
  • Used (100) from $1.99   
My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99
BN.com price

Overview

Isabel Allende evokes the magnificent landscapes of her country; a charming, idiosyncratic Chilean people with a violent history and an indomitable spirit; and the politics, religion, myth, and magic of her homeland that she carries with her even today.

The book circles around two life-changing moments. The assassination of her uncle Salvador Allende Gossens on September 11, 1973, sent her into exile and transformed her into a literary writer. And the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, on her adopted homeland, the United States, brought forth an overdue acknowledgment that Allende had indeed left home. My Invented Country, mimicking the workings of memory itself, ranges back and forth across that distance between past and present lives. It speaks compellingly to immigrants and to all of us who try to retain a coherent inner life in a world full of contradictions.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Author Isabel Allende is best known for taking memories of her native Chile -- from which she's been exiled for more than a quarter century -- and weaving them into fiction infused with magic realism. In her seventh decade, Allende turns to the art of the memoir, writing a factual account of her family life and career while acknowledging that even this retelling has an element of fabrication to it. Allende writes affectingly of her mother's family, a colorful group who served as the foundation for her bestseller The House of the Spirits. And she brings true emotion to the story of how she left for Venezuela during the 1973 military coup in her homeland, while her husband and two young children stayed temporarily behind. While it was disturbing to be uprooted from her native land, Allende came to view it as a gift that allowed her to become the writer she is today. As might be expected with the autobiography of such an accomplished novelist, the narrative has a fluidity and non-linearity that may frustrate some readers. It is a weakness, though, that Allende happily admits to ("I wrote my first book by letting my fingers run over the typewriter keys, just as I am writing this, without a plan," she confesses), but for fans of her prose, such spontaneity is one of the book's -- and the writer's -- charms. Katherine Hottinger
Entertainment Weekly
“A stunningly intimate memoir …. Allende is that rare writer whose understanding of story matches her mastery of language.”
San Diego Union-Tribune
“Poignant … Allende’s keen intelligence and lively prose keep readers wishing for more.”
Boston Globe
“Throughout, Allende’s writing is beautifully descriptive, with eloquent turns of phrase and vivid metaphors.”
New York Times Book Review
“Charming and entertaining.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Isabel Allende [is] surely one of the most graceful and yet haunting writers alive.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“At every bend [Allende] delights us with unexpected humor.”
Orlando Sentinel
“A delicious exploration.”
Booklist
“Riveting in its frankness and compassion, … [Allende’s] account of why and how she became a writer is profoundly moving.”
The New York Times
The freshest and most specific images in this book all come directly from Allende's life. Some of the loveliest writing is about her maternal grandfather, a ''formidable man'' who ''gave me the gift of discipline and love for language.'' Clearly this autocratic and idiosyncratic man had a large and lasting influence on Allende, and the picture of him that she creates in these pages is full-bodied and affecting. He was a man who ''never believed in germs, for the same reason he didn't believe in ghosts: he'd never seen one,'' and who admired the young Isabel's desire to be strong and independent but was unable to foster or even condone such unfeminine characteristics. — Peter Cameron
The Los Angeles Times
When Allende poses sweeping general truths, she leaves room for argument. When with broad brushstrokes she summarizes recent history, I am not completely convinced. But the book gets my undivided attention when it expounds on the relationship of the author to that country of hers, invented, imaginary, fictional, to the story of her family, which is itself invented memory, and to her vocation as a narrator. We discover that the writer, throughout a difficult life of wandering and uncertainty, acquired a certainty, a strong territory of her own, a grounding, in her narratives. This for writers, or nonwriters for that matter, is the most suggestive, most instructive, aspect of the work. — Jorge Edwards
The Washington Post
The book graphically illustrates the traits Allende attributes to Chileans -- it is self-absorbed, willfully paradoxical and often irritating, but at least it is never boring. A plateful of noodles, perhaps, but very nicely spiced. — Joanne Omang
Publishers Weekly
Allende's novels-The House of the Spirits; Eva Luna; Daughter of Fortune; etc.-are of the sweeping epic variety, often historical and romantic, weaving in elements of North and South American culture. As with most fiction writers, Allende's work is inspired by personal experiences, and in this memoir-cum-study of her "home ground," the author delves into the history, social mores and idiosyncrasies of Chile, where she was raised, showing, in the process, how that land has served as her muse. Allende was born in Peru in 1942, but spent much of her childhood-and a significant portion of her adulthood-in Santiago (she now lives in California). She ruminates on Chilean women (their "attraction lies in a blend of strength and flirtatiousness that few men can resist"); the country's class system ("our society is like a phyllo pastry, a thousand layers, each person in his place"); and Chile's turbulent history ("the political pendulum has swung from one extreme to another; we have tested every system of government that exists, and we have suffered the consequences"). She readily admits her view is subjective-to be sure, she is not the average Chilean (her stepfather was a diplomat; her uncle, Salvador Allende, was Chile's president from 1970 until his assassination in 1973). And at times, her assessments transcend Chile, especially when it comes to comments on memory and nostalgia. This is a reflective book, lacking the pull of Allende's fiction but unearthing intriguing elements of the author's captivating history. Agents, Carmen Balcells and Gloria Gutierrez. (June) Forecast: Despite a six-city author tour and advertising in the Miami Herald, New York Times Book Review and San Francisco Chronicle, this book probably won't attract as much attention as Allende's fiction does. Still, after having written 10 other books, Allende's developed a strong fan base, and her loyal readers will undoubtedly clamor for this. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Allende (The House of the Spirits) explores the homeland she left following the military coup and death of her uncle Salvador Allende Gossens, on September 11, 1973. The terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 prompted her to consider both the country she still called "home" and her adopted homeland, the United States. The result is a combination memoir, travelog, and social history that moves from one reflection to another as the mood or memory strikes the author. She paints a fascinating picture of an unusual country, one that features flamingoes in the north and volcanoes in the south, with apples and grapes in the central valley region. She is unflinchingly honest about detailing Chilean adherence to a class system, the people's fixation with machismo, and their inherent conservatism and clannishness. Chileans thrive on bureaucracy, funerals, and soap operas. It's unfortunate that the United States engineered a coup that toppled a successful democratic government-one that seemed to be leaning too close to communism to suit President Nixon-and thus opened the door for a brutal dictatorship that the people of Chile endured for many years. The author claims she has always felt like an outsider in her native country-within her family, social class, and even her Catholic religion-yet the fondness and nostalgia she brings to her narrative portray a longing that transcends her exile and reveals the inspiration Chile has had on the formation of her writing and life. My Invented Country is a warm and rich tribute to two very different countries, as well as a testament to the indomitable spirit Chileans bring to their tempestuous past. Listeners will enjoy hearing Allende narrate her own introduction before turning over the reading to Blair Brown, an accomplished actress whose voice is easy on the ears yet captures the proper emotional notes. Highly recommended for all public libraries.-Gloria Maxwell, Penn Valley Community Coll., Kansas City, MO Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"I can't be objective where Chile is concerned," writes novelist Allende (City of the Beasts, 2002, etc.) in this evocative and, yes, highly personal, social geography cum memoir. Allende describes her tour of her homeland as "a series of reflections, which always are selective and tinted," and readers wouldn't want it any other way. She starts with her childhood, which "wasn't a happy one, but it was interesting," then proceeds by caroms, letting memory lead the text this way and that. She explores the country’s physiography: the inhospitable north, where flamingoes are "brush strokes of pink among salt crystals glittering like precious stones"; the central valley's apples and grapes; Santiago, with "the pretensions of a large city but the soul of a village"; or the volcanic southern zone, with its wind and rain. Yet this is primarily a social and personal journey. Allende writes about her family's history, about her experiences with the politesse that hides the unbreachable class system, and about the poor, who are "well educated, informed, and aware of their rights." The nation’s sobriety is matched by its violence: "experience has taught us that when we lose control we are capable of the worst barbarism." Many believe in the supernatural, and the Catholic Church’s influence is pervasive. Women, with their "blend of strength and flirtatiousness that few men can resist," are also "abettors of machismo: they bring up their daughters to serve and their sons to be served." Allende shows us organ grinders, gypsies, and hot bread. She makes connections with her books. "Each country has its customs, its manias, its complexes," she writes. "I know the idiosyncrasies of mine like the palm of myhand"--and there lies her nostalgia. The musicality in Allende's voice bevels all but the melancholy, especially the sad day in 1973 when the CIA orchestrated a coup against her uncle, Salvador Allende. Dazzling as a kaleidoscope: an artful tumbling and knocking that throws light and reveals strange depths. Author tour. Agents: Carmen Balcells, Gloria Gutierrez
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060545673
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/27/2004
  • Series: Harper Perennial Series
  • Edition description: First Perennial Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 263,317
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Isabel Allende is the bestselling author of twelve works of fiction, four memoirs, and three young-adult novels, which have been translated into more than thirty-five languages with sales in excess of fifty-seven million copies. She is the author most recently of the bestsellers Maya's Notebook, Island Beneath the Sea, Inés of My Soul, Portrait in Sepia, and Daughter of Fortune. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She received the Hans Christian Andersen Literary Award in 2012. Born in Peru and raised in Chile, she lives in California.

Biography

In Isabel Allende's books, human beings do not exist merely in the three-dimensional sense. They can exert themselves as memory, as destiny, as spirits without form, as fairy tales. Just as the more mystical elements of Allende's past have shaped her work, so has the hard-bitten reality. Working as a journalist in Chile, Allende was forced to flee the country with her family after her uncle, President Salvador Allende, was killed in a coup in 1973.

Out of letters to family back in Chile came the manuscript that was to become Allende's first novel. Her arrival on the publishing scene in 1985 with The House of the Spirits was instantly recognized as a literary event. The New York Times called it "a unique achievement, both personal witness and possible allegory of the past, present and future of Latin America."

To read a book by Allende is to believe in (or be persuaded of) the power of transcendence, spiritual and otherwise. Her characters are often what she calls "marginal," those who strive to live on the fringes of society. It may be someone like Of Love and Shadows 's Hipolito Ranquileo, who makes his living as a circus clown; or Eva Luna, a poor orphan who is the center of two Allende books (Eva Luna and The Stories of Eva Luna).

Allende's characters have in common an inner fortitude that proves stronger than their adversity, and a sense of lineage that propels them both forward and backward. When you meet a central character in an Allende novel, be prepared to meet a few generations of his or her family. This multigenerational thread drives The House of the Spirits, the tale of the South American Trueba family. Not only did the novel draw Allende critical accolades (with such breathless raves as "spectacular," "astonishing" and "mesmerizing" from major reviewers), it landed her firmly in the magic realist tradition of predecessor (and acknowledged influence) Gabriel García Márquez. Some of its characters also reappeared in the historical novels Portrait in Sepia and Daughter of Fortune.

"It's strange that my work has been classified as magic realism," Allende has said, "because I see my novels as just being realistic literature." Indeed, much of what might be considered "magic" to others is real to Allende, who based the character Clara del Valle in The House of the Spirits on her own reputedly clairvoyant grandmother. And she has drawn as well upon the political violence that visited her life: Of Love and Shadows (1987) centers on a political crime in Chile, and other Allende books allude to the ideological divisions that affected the author so critically.

But all of her other work was "rehearsal," says Allende, for what she considers her most difficult and personal book. Paula is written for Allende's daughter, who died in 1992 after several months in a coma. Like Allende's fiction, it tells Paula's story through that of Allende's own and of her relatives. Allende again departed from fiction in Aphrodite, a book that pays homage to the romantic powers of food (complete with recipes for two such as "Reconciliation Soup"). The book's lighthearted subject matter had to have been a necessity for Allende, who could not write for nearly three years after the draining experience of writing Paula.

Whichever side of reality she is on, Allende's voice is unfailingly romantic and life-affirming, creating mystery even as she uncloaks it. Like a character in Of Love and Shadows, Allende tells "stories of her own invention whose aim [is] to ease suffering and make time pass more quickly," and she succeeds.

Good To Know

Allende has said that the character of Gregory Reeves in The Infinite Plan is based on her husband, Willie Gordon.

Allende begins all of her books on January 8, which she considers lucky because it was the day she began writing a letter to her dying grandfather that later became The House of the Spirits.

She began her career as a journalist, editing the magazine Paula and later contributing to the Venezuelan paper El Nacional.

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

My Invented Country
A Memoir

Country of Longitudinal Essences

Let's begin at the beginning, with Chile, that remote land that few people can locate on the map because it's as far as you can go without falling off the planet. Why don't we sell Chile and buy something closer to Paris? one of our intellectuals once asked. No one passes by casually, however lost he may be, although many visitors decide to stay forever, enamored of the land and the people. Chile lies at the end of all roads, a lance to the south of the south of America, four thousand three hundred kilometers of hills, valleys, lakes, and sea. This is how Neruda describes it in his impassioned poetry:

Night, snow and sand compose the form
of my slender homeland,
all silence is contained within its length,
all foam issues from its seaswept beard,
all coal fills it with mysterious kisses.

This elongated country is like an island, separated on the north from the rest of the continent by the Atacama Desert -- the driest in the world, its inhabitants like to say, although that must not be true, because in springtime parts of that lunar rubble tend to be covered with a mantle of flowers, like a wondrous painting by Monet. To the east rises the cordillera of the Andes, a formidable mass of rock and eternal snows, and to the west the abrupt coastline of the Pacific Ocean. Below, to the south, lie the solitudes of Antarctica. This nation of dramatic topography and diverse climates, studded with capricious obstacles and shaken by the sighs of hundreds of volcanoes, a geological miracle between the heights of the cordillera and the depths of thesea, is unified top to tail by the obstinate sense of nationhood of its inhabitants.

We Chileans still feel our bond with the soil, like the campesinos we once were. Most of us dream of owning a piece of land, if for nothing more than to plant a few worm-eaten heads of lettuce. Our most important newspaper, El Mercurio, publishes a weekly agricultural supplement that informs the public in general of the latest insignificant pest found on the potatoes or about the best forage for improving milk production. Its readers, who are planted in asphalt and concrete, read it voraciously, even though they have never seen a live cow.

In the broadest terms, it can be said that my long and narrow homeland can be broken up into four very different regions. The country is divided into provinces with beautiful names, but the military, who may have had difficulty memorizing them, added numbers for identification purposes. I refuse to use them because a nation of poets cannot have a map dotted with numbers, like some mathematical delirium. So let's talk about the four large regions, beginning with the norte grande, the "big north" that occupies a fourth of the country; inhospitable and rough, guarded by high mountains, it hides in its entrails an inexhaustible treasure of minerals.

I traveled to the north when I as a child, and I've never forgotten it, though a half-century has gone by since then. Later in my life I had the opportunity to cross the Atacama Desert a couple of times, and although those were extraordinary experiences, my first recollections are still the strongest. In my memory, Antofagasta, which in Quechua means "town of the great salt lands," is not the modern city of today but a miserable, out-of-date port that smelled like iodine and was dotted with fishing boats, gulls, and pelicans. In the nineteenth century it rose from the desert like a mirage, thanks to the industry producing nitrates, which for several decades were one of Chile's principal exports. Later, when synthetic nitrate as invented, the port as kept busy exporting copper, but as the nitrate companies began to close down, one after another, the pampa became strewn with ghost towns. Those two words -- "ghost town" -- gave wings to my imagination on that first trip.

I recall that my family and I, loaded with bundles, climbed onto a train that traveled at a turtle's pace through the inclement Atacama Desert to ard Bolivia. Sun, baked rocks, kilometers and kilometers of ghostly solitudes, from time to time an abandoned cemetery, ruined buildings of adobe and wood. It as a dry heat where not even flies survived. Thirst as unquenchable. We drank water by the gallon, sucked oranges, and had a hard time defending ourselves from the dust, which crept into every cranny. Our lips ere so chapped they bled, our ears hurt, we were dehydrated. At night a cold hard as glass fell over us, while the moon lighted the landscape with a blue splendor. Many years later I would return to the north of Chile to visit Chuquicamata, the largest open-pit copper mine in the world, an immense amphitheater where thousands of earth-colored men, working like ants, rip the mineral from stone. The train ascended to a height of more than four thousand meters and the temperature descended to the point where water froze in our glasses. We passed the silent salt mine of Uyuni, a white sea of salt where no bird flies, and others where we saw elegant flamingos. They were brush strokes of pink among salt crystals glittering like precious stones.

The so-called norte chico, or "little north," which some do not classify as an actual region, divides the dry north from the fertile central zone. Here lies the valley of Elqui, one of the spiritual centers of the Earth, said to be magical. The mysterious forces of Elqui attract pilgrims who come there to make contact with the cosmic energy of the universe, and many stay on to live in esoteric communities. Meditation, Eastern religions, gurus of various stripes, there's something of everything in Elqui ...

My Invented Country
A Memoir
. Copyright © by Isabel Allende. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2005

    I am hooked

    This book was a gift to my youngest sister who is not an avid reader, so since I needed something to read on the train ride to and from work I decided to give it a shot. I couldn't put it down and found myself telling some parts of it to the rest of my family. I have even found myself laughing while reading some parts! It is a very personal journey and I felt that I have learned a lot about the Chilean culture and Allende herself. She is a graceful writer and her style is capturing. It is the first book I read from Allende and cannot wait to pick up another one. I reccomend this book to anyone and the plus is that it is an easy read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2004

    Fantastic Voyage

    My Invented Country is Isabel Allende¿s best book yet. This amazing biography takes the reader on a poetic journey though Ms. Allende¿s young life. Her writing is stellar and poetic. This book is to be savored for its beauty of language. Writers dream of crafting sentences like these. Lovers of language will adore this book for its symmetry and grace. Readers of all ages will love it for its beautiful and absorbing story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 7, 2014

    I read it in Spanish and I loved it. I had read some of her book

    I read it in Spanish and I loved it. I had read some of her books, many years ago but for some reason I lost track of this author. She really is a very good writer. I couldn't put this book down,which I found easy to read and very entertaining( Allende has a great sense of humor). I recommend it as a very, very , good read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Look into Chile's Past

    Emotional and elegant, Allende writes about both her past and her country's. Beautiful and provocative, the reader can't help but be drawn into each page. From the beginning to the end, you'll find you won't want to put this book down.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Nice to know more about Chile.

    This is not one of Isabel Allende's best books but it is an interesting look at a country and people I didn't understand. She is always precise and doesn't flinch as she desribes herself and her contry.It helped me appreciate lots of the things I remember from "House of the Spirits." Enjoyed it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)