A Long Petal of the Sea

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende, Nick Caistor & Amanda Hopkinson Book Summary

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of The House of the Spirits, this epic novel spanning decades and crossing continents follows two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a place to call home.

“One of the most richly imagined portrayals of the Spanish Civil War to date, and one of the strongest and most affecting works in [Isabel Allende’s] long career.”—The New York Times Book Review

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Esquire • Good Housekeeping Parade

In the late 1930s, civil war grips Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. 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, Roser and Victor embark for Chile on the SS Winnipeg, a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda: “the long petal of sea and wine and snow.” As unlikely partners, the couple embraces exile as the rest of Europe erupts in world war. Starting over on a new continent, they face trial after trial, but they will also find joy as they patiently await the day when they might go home. Through it all, their hope of returning to Spain keeps them going. Destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world, Roser and Victor will find that home might have been closer than they thought all along.

A masterful work of historical fiction about hope, exile, and belonging, A Long Petal of the Sea shows Isabel Allende at the height of her powers.

Praise for A Long Petal of the Sea

“Both an intimate look at the relationship between one man and one woman and an epic story of love, war, family, and the search for home, this gorgeous novel, like all the best novels, transports the reader to another time and place, and also sheds light on the way we live now.”—J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Saints for All Occasions

“This is a novel not just for those of us who have been Allende fans for decades, but also for those who are brand-new to her work: What a joy it must be to come upon Allende for the first time. She knows that all stories are love stories, and the greatest love stories are told by time.”—Colum McCann, National Book Award–winning author of Let the Great World Spin

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende, Nick Caistor & Amanda Hopkinson Book Reviews

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- Good beyond the last page5 star

This story that winds its way through hardship and love inspires my soul. I hope it inspires yours.

- Not what expected1 star

The novel is narrated mostly, not many dialogues and sometimes can be repetitive and slow. The writer emphasized the political conflict more than the characters lives. The love story didn’t capture my imagination as in other novels from the same writer. I’m not impressed and didn’t have a good feeling when finished as for example “The island beneath the sea” a masterpiece by Isabel Allende.

- Interesting for the History3 star

This work was interesting for the review of historical events mostly forgotten by most. However the story bogged down and the approach of a third party narrative was not, to me, successful. In summary, good but not near great.

- An engrossing read5 star

I always wondered if the author would write such a novel- se states it dictated itself. The stories pull you in and for me I couldn’t put it down for two days. I’m sure not everything she knows is in here and the similarities to government and dictatorships are striking in such a short historical time on two continents. Ms Allende speaks of a time when she had no knowledge of becoming a writer, we readers have gained so much because she has become a great one.

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