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A Long Petal of the Sea
Cover of A Long Petal of the Sea
A Long Petal of the Sea
A Novel
Borrow Borrow Borrow
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
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
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Excerpts-
  • From the book The most outstanding pianist among Professor Dalmau’s students was Roser Bruguera, a young girl from the village of Santa Fe de Segarra who, had it not been for the generous intervention of Santiago Guzman, would have shepherded goats all her life. Guzman, from an illustrious family that had fallen on hard times thanks to generations of lazy sons who squandered money and lands, was spending his last years in an isolated mansion surrounded by mountains and rocks, but full of sentimental memories. He had been a professor of history at the Central University in the days of King Alfonso XII, and remained quite active despite his advanced years.

    He went out every day, in the fierce August sun and the icy January winds, walking for hours with his pilgrim’s staff, battered leather hat, and hunting dog. His wife was lost in the labyrinths of dementia, and spent her days being cared for inside the house, creating monsters with paper and paint. In the village she was known as the Gentle Lunatic, and that’s what she was: she didn’t cause any problems, apart from her tendency to get lost as she set off toward the horizon, and to paint the walls with her own excrement.

    Roser was about seven years old when on one of his walks Don Santiago saw her looking after a few skinny goats. It was enough for him to exchange a few words with her to realize that she possessed a lively and inquiring mind. The professor and the little goatherd established a strange friendship based on the lessons in culture he gave her, and her desire to learn. One winter’s day, when he came upon her crouched shivering in a ditch with her three goats, soaked from the rain and flushed with fever, Don Santiago tied up the goats and slung her over his shoulder like a sack, thankful she was so small and weighed so little. Even so, the effort almost killed him, and after a few steps he gave up. Leaving her where she was, he hurried on and called to one of his laborers, who carried her to the house. Don Santiago told his cook to give her something to eat, instructed his housemaids to prepare a bath and bed for her, and the stable boy to go first to Santa Fe and find the doctor, and then to look for the goats before someone stole them.

    The doctor said the girl had influenza and was malnourished. She also had scabies and lice. Since nobody came to the Guzman house asking after her either on that day or any of the following ones, they assumed she was an orphan, until in the end they asked her directly and she explained that her family lived on the other side of the mountain. In spite of being as frail as a partridge, the young girl recovered rapidly, because she turned out to be stronger than she looked. She allowed them to shave her head to get rid of the lice, and didn’t resist the sulfur treatment they used for the scabies. She ate voraciously and showed signs of having a placid temperament that was at odds with her sad situation.

    In the weeks she spent in the mansion, everyone, from the delirious mistress to all the servants, became deeply attached to her. They had never had a little girl in that stone house haunted by semi-feral cats and ghosts from past ages. The most infatuated was the professor, who was vividly reminded of the privilege of teaching an avid mind, but even he realized that her stay with them could not go on forever. He waited for her to recover completely and to put some flesh on her bones, then decided to visit the far side of the mountain and tell her negligent parents a few hard truths. Ignoring his wife’s pleas, he installed her, well wrapped up in his carriage, and took her off.

    They came to a low muddy shack at the edge of the...
About the Author-
  • Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel Allende is the author of a number of bestselling and critically acclaimed books, including The House of the Spirits, Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, Paula, and In the Midst of Winter. Her books have been translated into more than forty-two languages and have sold more than seventy-four million copies worldwide. She lives in California.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    August 1, 2019

    Winner of the National Book Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award, Allende explores the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, as pregnant young widow Roser flees Franco's Spain with Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her dead husband. They enter a marriage of convenience to survive, boarding the SS Winnipeg for Chile--"the long petal of sea and wine and snow," as Pablo Neruda called it--as they learn what being in exile really means.

    Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    September 15, 2019
    Two refugees from the Spanish Civil War cross the Atlantic Ocean to Chile and a half-century of political and personal upheavals. We meet Victor Dalmau and Roser Bruguera in 1938 as it is becoming increasingly clear that the Republican cause they support is doomed. When they reunite in France as penniless refugees, Roser has survived a harrowing flight across the Pyrenees while heavily pregnant and given birth to the son of Victor's brother Guillem, killed at the Battle of the Ebro. Victor, evacuated with the wounded he was tending in a makeshift hospital, learns of a ship outfitted by poet Pablo Neruda to take exiles to a new life in Chile, but he and Roser must marry in order to gain a berth. Allende (In the Midst of Winter, 2017, etc.) expertly sets up this forced intimacy between two very different people: Resolute, realistic Roser never looks back and doggedly pursues a musical career in Chile while Victor, despite being fast-tracked into medical school by socialist politician Salvador Allende (a relative of the author's), remains melancholy and nostalgic for his homeland. Their platonic affection deepens into physical love and lasting commitment in an episodic narrative that reaches a catastrophic climax with the 1973 coup overthrowing Chile's democratically elected government. For Victor and Roser, this is a painful reminder of their losses in Spain and the start of new suffering. The wealthy, conservative del Solar family provides a counterpoint to the idealistic Dalmaus; snobbish, right-wing patriarch Isidro and his hysterically religious wife, Laura, verge on caricature, but Allende paints more nuanced portraits of eldest son Felipe, who smooths the refugees' early days in Chile, and daughter Ofelia, whose brief affair with Victor has lasting consequences. Allende tends to describe emotions and events rather than delve into them, and she paints the historical backdrop in very broad strokes, but she is an engaging storyteller. A touching close in 1994 brings one more surprise and unexpected hope for the future to 80-year-old Victor. A trifle facile, but this decades-spanning drama is readable and engrossing throughout.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from October 7, 2019
    Spanning from 1938 to 1994, this majestic novel from Allende (In the Midst of Winter) focuses on Victor Dalmau, a 23-year-old medical student fighting in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side when the novel opens. After Nationalist forces prevail, Victor and thousands of other Republican sympathizers flee Spain to avoid brutal reprisals. In France, he searches the packed refugee camps for Roser Bruguera, who is pregnant with his brother Guillem’s child. Once he finds Roser, he breaks the news that Guillem has died in battle and that he has won a place on the Winnipeg, a ship that the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda has organized to transport Spanish refugees from Europe, where WWII is breaking out, to safety in Chile. Allowed to bring only family with him, Victor persuades Roser to marry him in name only. Though Victor has a brief, secret affair with well-off Ofelia del Solar, he begins to fall in love with Roser; they raise Roser’s son, Marcel, together and build stable lives, he as a cardiologist and she as a widely respected musician. But when the Pinochet dictatorship unseats Chile’s Marxist president in 1973, they find themselves once more endangered by their political views. Allende’s assured prose vividly evokes her fictional characters, historical figures like Neruda, and decades of complex international history; her imagery makes the suffering of war and displacement palpable yet also does justice to human strength, hope and rebirth. Seamlessly juxtaposing exile with homecoming, otherness with belonging, and tyranny with freedom, the novel feels both timeless and perfectly timed for today.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from October 1, 2019
    Isabel Allende joins an illustrious group of novelists who have found a deep wellspring for fiction in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), beginning with Ernest Hemingway's eye-witness-inspired For Whom the Bell Tolls, which was published just a year after those who were fighting to save an elected government were defeated by fascist forces under General Francisco Franco, who was allied with Hitler and Mussolini. Hemingway covered the war, along with his third-wife-to-be Martha Gellhorn, and both appear in Beautiful Exiles (2018) by Meg Waite Clayton and Love and Ruin (2018) by Paula McLain. Distinguished Spanish writer Manuel Rivas' The Carpenter's Pencil (2001) is a deeply inquisitive and moving novel about the war, as are Alan Furst's Midnight in Europe (2014), The Time in Between (2011) by Maria Duenas (translated by Daniel Hahn), and Mary Gordon's There Your Heart Lies (2017). Now Helen Janeczek, in The Girl with the Leica (2019), and Allende explore the seismic impact on individual lives of Spain's devastating civil war in novels strikingly divergent in style and focus.Poet Pablo Neruda plays a small but key role in Janeczek's novel when he rescues two thousand Spanish war refugees and brings them to Chile. This actual voyage of mercy is the catalyst for Isabel Allende's A Long Petal of the Sea. Internationally revered as a virtuoso of lucidly well-told, utterly enrapturing fiction, Allende encapsulates the complicated horrors of the Spanish Civil War within the epic struggles of Victor Dalmau, the son of a music professor and an activist, and Roser Bruguera, a gifted student of Victor's father's who falls in love with Victor's brother, a soldier, and is left bereft and pregnant when he's killed. Roser and Victor, destined to become a doctor after a stunning battlefield encounter, join the desperate exodus to France, where Spanish refugees are maligned as filthy criminals and detained in unconscionably wretched circumstances. When events deliver them to Neruda as he's selecting passengers for his sanctuary ship, they expediently marry to ensure their inclusion.Allende follows the course of their tumultuous, socially conscious lives, forever shadowed by the war's traumas, over the ensuing decades, contrasting their successful professional and unusual private lives with the hard slam to the right of Chilean politics as a U.S.-backed military coup takes down President Salvador Allende (a cousin of the author) and installs the dictator Augusto Pinochet. Once again, Victor is subjected to brutality in a concentration camp; once again he and Roser must flee their home. Allende deftly addresses war, displacement, violence, and loss in a novel of survival and love under siege, a tale that is seductively intimate and strategically charming with valor, perseverance, transcendent romance, and wondrous reunions providing narrative sweeteners to lure readers into contemplation of past atrocities and, covertly, of the disturbingly similar outrages of the present, in which refugees and immigrants are treated with appalling cruelty and fascist threats escalate around the warming world.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

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