The first Allende that I read was The House of Spirits, which I disliked. Mainly because I thought that there were way too many allusions to Garcia Marquez. In fact I didn’t even managed to finish the book as I got bored halfway ( I’ll be re-reading it as it’s on the 1001 list) Luckily enough ‘Of Love and Shadows’ was a different reading experience.
The novel has got two major themes ; Love and Politics and both are entwined. It’s about a blossoming romance between a photographer from a middle class background (Francisco) and a bohemian rich girl (Irene). In between this love there’s the disappearance of a girl and both are lead characters think that she is a victim of political/military brutality so they go on a quest to find her.
For some weird reason the adventure part reminded me of a more sadistic Famous Five adventure. I couldn’t help rooting for both Francisco and Irene eventually their discoveries force the lovers to evacuate their homeland.
Under this adventurous/romantic core lies a very shocking depiction of Pinochet’s government (Allende’s family was a victim of political crimes as well). One that is highly corrupt and will stop at nothing in order to achieve results. It’s also an immensely enjoyable read and very well translated.
Hopefully I’ll feel the same way about The House of Spirits!