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The Sum of Our Days : A Memoir
by Isabel Allende and Margaret Sayers Peden


Overview - In this heartfelt memoir, Allende reconstructs the painful reality of her own life in the wake of tragic loss--the death of her daughter, Paula. Narrated with warmth, humor, and wisdom, this work is a portrait of a contemporary family, tied together by the love and loyalty of a determined matriarch.  Read more...

 
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More About The Sum of Our Days by Isabel Allende; Margaret Sayers Peden
 
 
 
Overview
In this heartfelt memoir, Allende reconstructs the painful reality of her own life in the wake of tragic loss--the death of her daughter, Paula. Narrated with warmth, humor, and wisdom, this work is a portrait of a contemporary family, tied together by the love and loyalty of a determined matriarch.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780061551833
  • ISBN-10: 006155183X
  • Publisher: Harper
  • Publish Date: April 2008
  • Page Count: 320
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.42 x 1.17 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.24 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Personal Memoirs
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Literary
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Women

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 146.
  • Review Date: 2008-02-18
  • Reviewer: Staff

In this deeply revealing second memoir, after Paula, novelist Allende (The House of Spirits) utilizes her family and the complex network of their relationships as the linchpin of the narrative. While weaving in her candid opinions on love and marriage, friendship, drug addiction, the writing life and religious fanaticism, Allende continues to work through the grief over her daughter's death. “In these years without you I have learned to manage sadness, making it my ally. Little by little your absence and other losses in my life are turning into a sweet nostalgia.” And though Allende's insight is keen, her prose polished and her language hypnotic, it's the stories of her close-knit family that move the memoir forward. “We lived as a tribe, Chilean style; we were almost always together.” While much of the story is infused with melancholy, her world is by no means without humor, mirth and wisdom. She celebrates friends' triumphs and exploits their foibles, including the “odyssey of the boobs,” without taking herself too seriously. This is a book to savor. (Apr.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Allende's loves and shadows

Masterful storytellers know to hook their audiences quickly, going right to the heart of things. And so goes novelist Isabel Allende (House of the Spirits) in her new memoir, The Sum of Our Days, whose first sentence roundly states: "There is no lack of drama in my life, I have more than enough three-ring-circus material for writing . . ." No paucity indeed; what ensues is an exuberant, unpredictable, melancholic and loving narrative that spans the 13 years after the death of her daughter, Paula. The book was conceived as an intimate letter to Paula, and is largely drawn from the long daily correspondence with Allende's own mother. "I will begin by telling you what has happened since . . . you left us, and will limit myself to the family, which is what interests you," Allende writes.

This story of family and extended family is certain to interest any reader; who doesn't enjoy a good dish of familial drama? The Sum of Our Days, however, may be especially delectable to writers and fans of Allende's fiction, as Allende generously reveals her creative inner world—the genesis of her many books, her fears and superstitions about writing (she must begin a new book only on January 8 of every new year), and the ways in which a diverse, eccentric pack of family, friends and experiences find their ways into her wondrous tales.

Allende does not hold back in recounting her grief over the loss of a daughter, and The Sum of Our Days is tinged with profound sadness in places. It is also a moving, often humorous, recollection not only of family, but also of essential friends, including exotic, warmhearted Tabra and the wittily wise Sisters of Disorder. Finally, this memoir is a lustrous meditation on placing the complexities of love and relationship, spirituality and suffering into a greater context. As Allende writes, "you have to forget facts and concentrate on the truth. . . . Gently, the waters will settle, the mud will sink to the bottom, and there will be transparency."

Alison Hood writes from Marin County, California.

 
BAM Customer Reviews