It was fifteen years ago that, Isabel Allende took the literary world by storm with the publication of The House of the Spirits, a novel which chronicled four generations of a Chilean family against the backdrop of Chile's brutal history. The Times of London heralded Allende as having "the rare ability to blend fantasy and legend with political fact and a well-plotted narrative to produce an enchanted world unlike anything else in contemporary fiction." The New York Times called the book "a unique achievement, both personal witness and possible allegory of the past, present and future of Latin America."
Allende followed her impressive debut with Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, The Stories of Eva Luna, and The Infinite Plan, all bestsellers around the world. Critical accolades have greeted the publication of each of Allende's books, which have commonly been cited for their compassion, imagination, humor and originality. The House of the Spirits was made into a feature film with an all-star cast headed by Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep, and Glenn Close. Of Love and Shadows, starring Antonio Banderas, was released a year later.
Isabel Allende was born in Lima, Peru, in 1942 and raised in Chile, Bolivia, Europe, and the Middle East, as her peripatetic family followed her stepfather's diplomatic career. She worked as a journalist in Chile until the 1973 military coup. Allende fled her homeland, settling in Venezuela with her husband, son and daughter. "I felt, as many Chileans did, that my life had been cut into pieces, and that I had to start over again," she recalls.
Isolated from her family, and in particular from her beloved grandfather who was close to death, Allende began to write a long letter in which she reassured him that the would always be kept alive in her memories. That letter grew into The House of the Spirits.
PAULA, Allende's first non-fiction book is a deeply moving memoir inspired by the tragic fatal illness of her 28 year-old daughter. It, too, began as a letter from mother to daughter that becomes a meditation on a mother's life and a daughter's death. It became an international bestseller when it was published three years ago.
Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses which celebrates the pleasures of the sensual life through food, stories, and personal anecdotes, was published in April 1998. Daughter of Fortune was published October 10, 1999.
Isabel Allende now lives in the San Francisco area with her American husband and their respective extended families.