Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 46.
- Review Date: 2006-08-21
- Reviewer: Staff
Only months after the inauguration of Chile's first female president, Allende recounts in her usual sweeping style the grand tale of Doña Inés Suárez (1507– 1580), arguably the country's founding mother. Writing in the year of her death, Inés tells of her modest girlhood in Spain and traveling to the New World as a young wife to find her missing husband, Juan. Upon learning of Juan's humiliating death in battle, Inés determines to stay in the fledgling colony of Peru, where she falls fervently in love with Don Pedro de Valdivia, loyal field marshal of Francisco Pizarro. The two lovers aim to found a new society based on Christian and egalitarian principles that Valdivia later finds hard to reconcile with his personal desire for glory. Inés proves herself not only a capable helpmate and a worthy cofounder of a nation, but also a ferocious fighter who both captivates and frightens her fellow settlers. Inés narrates with a clear eye and a sensitivity to native peoples that rarely lapses into anachronistic political correctness. Basing the tale on documented events of her heroine's life, Allende crafts a swift, thrilling epic, packed with fierce battles and passionate romance. (Nov.)
Recreating a heroine from Chile's past
As the story of the pioneers of any land becomes legend, many details fall away. Who were the women behind the men and what happened to them? What was their contribution to the creation of a country? Inés of My Soul, the tale of Chile's conquest by the Spanish in the 1500s, is international best-selling author Isabel Allende's way of answering that question. As told in flashback by a courageous Spanish seamstress who becomes the mother of the land, Inés of My Soul dramatically recreates the adventure, romance and achievement of an indomitable woman in the untamed wilderness of South America.
When Inés Suárez's good-for-nothing husband
disappears in the New World, she sets out to find him, freeing herself from the repressive environment of Spain. Inés' adventures begin during the long sea journey to the Americas. Her keen mind and beauty soon capture the attention of Pedro de Valdivia, field
marshal to the explorer Francisco Pizarro, governor of Peru. Together, Inés and Pedro lead the expedition destined to colonize the wild and fertile land of Chile. Their love affair ultimately raises Inés to the heights of society, where she proves her nobility by defending the nascent town of Santiago from the attacks of the fierce natives.
In this, her ninth novel, Allende's love of her native landsshe was born in Peru and raised in Chile before immigrating to the United Statesshines through. Inés, Pedro and the indigenous Chileans come alive, clashing with swords and clubs, facing starvation, betrayal and, finally, triumph. Allende weaves meticulously researched historic detail about the real-life Inés with brilliant imagination in this riveting tale, demonstrating again a singular talent for storytelling that grows stronger with each new work.
Kelly Koepke writes from Albuquerque, New Mexico.