A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende

​Isabel Allende is a favourite author of mine and I love her historical fiction which bring life and interesting characters to events which affect populations as a whole. The Spanish civil war force a fractured family to exile first to France then ultimately to Chile where they attempt to start a new life. Separated from his mother on the Spanish border, Victor looks after his brother Guillem's pregnant fiancée Roser, a pianist and after the baby Marcel is born, they enter into a marriage of convenience in order to secure a place on the refugee boat, The Winnipeg' funded by Pablo Neruda and his sponsors. At the end of a terrible crossing they arrive in Chile where the ship is initially refused entry. After much negotiation the passengers are eventually allowed to disembark and Victor, Roser and Marcel struggle to start up their new life in this alien, yet strangely familiar country.  After years of struggle they find their feet and begin to feel as if they can relax and have a future when, once again society around them implodes with political unrest and oppression. Arriving in Venezuela as refugees once again, their fortunes finally change and we are rooting for them to find peace. We follow them through trials and tribulations made all the more real by the knowledge that the author herself lived through these tumultuous days in Chile and was forced into exile herself.
A fascinating read well told.
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Submitted by Jillian