A beautiful historical novel written by Isabel Allende, the international and bestselling author who was born in Peru, raised in Chile and now lives in the USA. Spanning continents and history ‘A Long Petal of the Sea’ is considered one of her greatest works.

Readability

★★★★★★★★★✰

Talkability

★★★★★★★★★✰

Den scores

★★★★★★★★✰✰

A LONG PETAL OF THE SEA

ISABEL ALLENDE

314 pages

‘A Long Petal of the Sea’ is an emotionally charged historical novel written by the bestselling and internationally acclaimed author Isabel Allende who was born in Peru, raised in Chile and now lives in the USA. Bursting with historical detail this beautiful translation is a wonderful treat for book clubs. This turned out to be a satisfying diversion read for lockdown and one that informed us, as well as touched our hearts.

Released earlier this year, ‘A Long Petal of the Sea’ takes the reader on an epic journey starting in Spain where the country is gripped by civil war, circa 1938. The reader follows a young family who take on a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border to escape Franco. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them desires.

Together with two thousand other refugees, they embark on the SS Winnipeg, a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda, to Chile: “the long petal of sea and wine and snow.” As unlikely partners, they embrace exile as the rest of Europe erupts in world war. Starting over on a new continent, their trials are just beginning, and over the course of their lives, they will face hardship and setbacks. Their hope of returning to Spain keeps them going whilst they witness the battle between freedom and repression in Chile. Home might have been closer than they thought all along.

This novel gripped us all in the Den. Whilst some in the group hankered for more characterisation, others enjoyed Allende’s Hemingway-esque style of writing – because it was still a raw story, routed in unavoidable pain. As well as historically fascinating we were able to acknowledge our own ‘freedoms’ in the new world order of lock-down and appreciate the ever-changing geo-political landscape.

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