Violeta – by Isabel Allende – independent book review – Historical Fiction (South America)

NOTE: I received early access to this book through in exchange for writing an impartial review. Thank you Ballantine Books. Scheduled Publication: January 25, 2022.

I should acknowledge up front that author Isabel Allende is a favorite of mine and I have loved nearly all of her books. This one is no exception. Awarded five stars on Goodreads.

I find some books tend to be more plot driven, others propelled by character evolution, and a few full of rich, lyrical language that can read like poetry. In this historical novel, Allende manages to blend all three. As she so often does. Her descriptions of seemingly small moments include such touching detail that they often made me feel I was sitting in the room as a witness. This book is not just a well-crafted novel. It’s literature.

VIOLETA is a first person narrative, a woman writing down the story of her life as she approaches death. It’s written to a specific person — but you will need to discover who that is on your own. The book is also a story that closely follows the history of a century.

Born during the Spanish Flu Epidemic (1920), Violeta begins her life in a large extended family with great wealth, largely because her father believes economic success grows naturally out of a willingness to take great risk. Not surprisingly, the 1930s Depression hits the family hard. A dramatic change in circumstance propels Violeta into a much wider, and far less protected world.

As years pass, she experiences poverty, violence, marriage, passion, children, love affairs, tragedy, and successes and failures. All against the unfolding history of a South American country enduring repeated political repression and revolution. World War II, gangsters, drugs and hippies, addiction, abuse, and more reach into Violeta’s orbit. Her priorities shift multiple times as she comes in contact with a wider variety of perspectives (Spanish-speaking elite, indigenous people, and ex-pats) and understands more about other realities surrounding her. Violeta’s story is as challenging as the profound historical events impacting her loved ones, but also as dramatic and universal as the day-to-day experiences impacting EVERY woman’s life (i.e. love, friendship, family).

Isabel Allende

VIOLETA is a beautiful novel from the very first page, full of three-dimensional characters exhibiting all the foibles we recognize as simply part of human nature. Don’t miss VIOLETA.

More about the author, Isabel Allende.

You may be interested in other Allende books I’ve read:

The Wind Knows My Name

Island Beneath the Sea

A Long Petal to the Sea

The Japanese Lover

In the Midst of Winter


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