Paula

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9780060927219: Paula

With an enchanting blend of magical realism, politics, and romance reminiscent of her classic bestseller The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende presents a soul-baring memoir that seizes the reader like a novel of suspense.

Written for her daughter Paula when she became ill and slipped into a coma, Paula is the colorful story of Allende's life--from her early years in her native Chile, through the turbulent military coup of 1973, to the subsequent dictatorship and her family's years of exile. In the telling, bizarre ancestors reveal themselves, delightful and bitter childhood memories surface, enthralling anecdotes of youthful years are narrated and intimate secrets are softly whispered.

In an exorcism of death and a celebration of life, Isabel Allende explores the past, questions the gods, and creates a magical book that carries the reader from tears to laughter, from terror to sensuality to wisdom. In Paula, readers will come to understand that the miraculous world of her novels is the world Isabel Allende inhabits--it is her enchanted reality.

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Review:

"Listen, Paula. I am going to tell you a story so that when you wake up you will not feel so lost." So says Chilean writer Isabel Allende (The House of the Spirits) in the opening lines of the luminous, heart-rending memoir she wrote while her 28-year-old daughter Paula lay in a coma. In its pages, she ushers an assortment of outrageous relatives into the light: her stepfather, an amiable liar and tireless debater; grandmother Meme, blessed with second sight; and delinquent uncles who exultantly torment Allende and her brothers. Irony and marvelous flights of fantasy mix with the icy reality of Paula's deathly illness as Allende sketches childhood scenes in Chile and Lebanon; her uncle Salvatore Allende's reign and ruin as Chilean president; her struggles to shake off or find love; and her metamorphosis into a writer.

From the Publisher:

One of the most popular and acclaimed Latin American authors of our century presents this unforgettable memoir, an exquisitely rendered, deeply moving mother-daughter story that doubles as her autobiography.

Paula is a soul-baring memoir one reads without drawing a breath, like a novel of suspense. The point of departure for these moving pages is a tragic personal experience. In December 1991, Isabel Allende's daughter, Paula, became gravely ill and shortly thereafter fell into a coma. During hours in the hospital, the author began to write the story of her family for her unconscious daughter. In the telling, bizarre ancestors appear before our eyes, and we hear both delightful and bitter childhood memories, amazing anecdotes of youthful years, the most intimate secrets passed along in whispers. Chile, Allende's native land, comes alive as well, with the turbulent history of the military coup of 1973, the following dictatorship and her family's years of exile.

As an exorcism of death, in these pages Isabel Allende explores the past and questions the gods. The result is a magical book that carries the reader from tears to laughter, from terror to sensuality and wisdom. Paula is a prodigious evocation and a hymn to life, written from the heart of the courageous and estimable woman who created The House of the Spirits.

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