My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Earlier this year, my friend Nina and I were discussing internationally written literature, specifically from Latin America. We both had a connection to it for a few reasons, which prompted her to suggest a buddy read. We settled on Isabel Allende, and she selected Eva Luna. We spent the last week reading the book and discussing some of the key points and will continue to do so, I’m sure. For now, I’m sharing some of the highlights of my thoughts.
Let’s set the stage. Early to mid 20th century. Somewhere in South America (Nina and I saw a few options) but ultimately settled on it purposely being generalist in some areas given there were different cultures involved. Eva’s mother lived a tragic life. Let’s not even discuss her father. Once we learn about the past, we’re ready for Eva Luna, a storyteller who doesn’t know she is one until much later on, despite what everyone once told her. She lives in a string of homes, all difficult places. Yet in each, she finds someone to lean on, and develops a life-long relationship with them.. that is, until they are cruelly killed or die of natural causes. Eva has lived a life full of loss. But there are some beautiful moments too, it’s not all sad!
The story chronicles Eva’s life and relationships. Going into the book, I had little understanding of the detailed theme. If there was one thing I found a bit disappointing, it was the lack of a formal structure in how we learn about Eva’s life. It’s chronological, but we’re not quite sure of her age or role at the time. It’s not purposely unclear, just not as important as what’s happening to her. I generally prefer a deeper structure, perhaps a timeline or chapter description to showcase what part of her life we are about to explore. Then again, life is messy and often repeats itself, so this was very realistic in other ways. Nonetheless, I’m an orderly guy, so I would’ve loved just a bit more to make that part of the book come together. Nina had a great theory on this, so go read her review to find out more.
The imagery and language are astounding. It was compelling and beautiful, sad and disheartening… but through it all, stunning! I found the way in which Allende shows us how Eva is haunted and impacted by everything around her to be the star of this book. You clearly see and feel everything, yet you know the true horrors are purposefully left out. Eva suffers. We suffer for her. But it’s rarely graphic or detailed to the point you can’t read it. You know what’s going on, and that’s enough. Some of the pain occurs when she is a young girl and a teenager. It’s insane to accept what once happened to children, specifically female ones. Let’s not even discuss the current situation!
Another part of the book I found most forward-thinking was the character of Mimi, my favorite. At some points a man, at others a woman, perhaps shades in between, what Allende discusses ~30 years ago when this was written is fully apropos for today, and it appears so much more for ~75 years ago when some of this took place in the book. I’m truly shocked at the way people react to others. If the person isn’t hurting you/someone else/animals, let them do what they want. There are far better things to focus on that something that doesn’t truly involve the jerk with the issue! Walk away. Off soapbox as this isn’t that kind of novel. It’s more about an overall theme of what happened in many similar countries to people who didn’t have a lot of money or advancement opportunities.
I will definitely read more Allende, perhaps the short stories by Eva Luna herself (thanks, Nina). Overall, I give this 4.5 stars but I rounded down because of the missing pieces I felt would’ve made this an absolute stand-out. I still highly recommend it, and this translation in particular was phenomenal. I learned a few new vocabulary words, and when it results from a translation, and the original language was stunning, you know it’s a solid book. Thanks for making this a fun read together, Nina.
View all my reviews
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are five books: Academic Curveball, Broken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.