The Stories of Eva Luna by Isabel Allende (Viking)
I’d always heard about the Chilean author Isabel Allende, but until recently, I’d never actually read one of her books. I remember listening to my mother rave about Daughter of Fortune though, and reading about her at university, after I was introduced to “magical realism” in Zakes Mda’s Ways of Dying.
Years later, her name came up again, this time in a reading list for my Honours literature course. But when I went to the nearby municipal library to look for her first and I think most famous novel, The House of the Spirits, I was disappointed to find that although it was on the system, it was nowhere to be found on the shelves.
But in some ways, I’m glad, because what I found on the shelves instead was her book The Stories of Eva Luna, a collection of short stories that I feel were a perfect introduction to her style of writing and characterisation.
Every night when I lie down to read I look forward to the next one, all of them so different in content, but similar in their engaging exploration of relationships, South America and its people- everyone from the Italian emigrant to the native Indians whose medicine cures even the most brutal injuries.
Although it’s not clear exactly where all the stories take place, there’s enough detail to hazard a guess. From my estimation, most of them in her native Chile, a country that covers a diversity of landscapes- from the Atacama Desert in the north to the cold, icy southern tip of the South American continent.
I’m only halfway through the book and I expect to feel a little bit sad when I do eventually finish it. Hopefully by then I’ll have found a copy of The House of the Spirits though, and will have that to look forward to as well.
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