Review Violeta Isabel Allende
Chilean author Isabel Allende is a master of making history feel personal. Her best-known novels, including “The House of the Spirits,” weave the personal and political in a saga that spans decades. In “Violeta,” Allende takes a similar approach, telling the story of Violeta Del Valle, whose life is touched by two global pandemics and numerous family and love affairs.
As the novel begins, Violeta is on her deathbed, announcing that she will recount the story of her life to her grandson Camilo. Despite initial resistance, she eventually begins to recall her adventures in a narrative that is rich with historical details. Allende is a superb storyteller, and she fills her narrative with characters who capture the reader’s interest.
Throughout her odyssey, Violeta struggles to gain a sense of control over her life. She survives earthquakes, a cruel dictatorship and countless love affairs. She even manages to set up a philanthropic foundation for women, which is the highlight of her late-life happiness.
However, Allende’s trademark storytelling technique begins to falter as the number of plotlines increases. By the end, the novel reads like a slightly embellished Wikipedia page.
While Allende’s retelling of Violeta’s life is fascinating, it lacks the depth that made her other works such enduring masterpieces. Ultimately, “Violeta” is a bit too much of a good thing. Not a single phrase or image arrests, and the stories feel as though they are being transcribed from dreary interviews.