The B&N Podcast: Isabel Allende

Every author has a story beyond the one that they put down on paper. The Barnes & Noble Podcast goes between the lines with today’s most interesting writers, exploring what inspires them, what confounds them, and what they were thinking when they wrote the books we’re talking about.

Ever since her sweeping family and political epic The House of the Spirits was published to acclaim in 1982, the Chilean-born writer Isabel Allende has been weaving the output of her apparently limitless imagination into stories that engage deeply with the struggles of ordinary people. Allende is the author of internationally bestselling novels such as Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, and Daughter of Fortune, and in 1994 she published the acclaimed memoir Paula, which chronicled with heartbreaking candor the loss of her adult daughter. This week, the author joined us in the studio to talk about her timely new novel In the Midst of Winter (and to tell us a bit about what it’s like to get a Presidential Medal of Freedom).


Isabel Allende returns with a sweeping novel about three very different people who are brought together in a mesmerizing story that journeys from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil.

In the Midst of Winter begins with a minor traffic accident—which becomes the catalyst for an unexpected and moving love story between two people who thought they were deep into the winter of their lives. Richard Bowmaster—a 60-year-old human rights scholar—hits the car of Evelyn Ortega—a young, undocumented immigrant from Guatemala—in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn. What at first seems just a small inconvenience takes an unforeseen and far more serious turn when Evelyn turns up at the professor’s house seeking help. At a loss, the professor asks his tenant Lucia Maraz—a 62-year-old lecturer from Chile—for her advice. These three very different people are brought together in a mesmerizing story that moves from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil, sparking the beginning of a long overdue love story between Richard and Lucia.

Exploring the timely issues of human rights and the plight of immigrants and refugees, the book recalls Allende’s landmark novel The House of the Spirits in the way it embraces the cause of “humanity, and it does so with passion, humor, and wisdom that transcend politics” (Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post). In the Midst of Winter will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

Click here to see all books by Isabel Allende.

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