Title: A Long Petal of the Sea
Author: Isabel Allende
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Page Count: 336
Publication Date: 2020
Category/Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Cultural, Hispanic, War, Romance
Good Reads Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.08)
My Rating: ★★★★☆(4.0)
In the late 1930s, civil war grips Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them desires.
Together with two thousand other refugees, they embark on the SS Winnipeg, a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda, to Chile: “the long petal of sea and wine and snow.” As unlikely partners, they embrace exile as the rest of Europe erupts in world war. Starting over on a new continent, their trials are just beginning, and over the course of their lives, they will face trial after trial. But they will also find joy as they patiently await the day when they will be exiles no more. Through it all, their hope of returning to Spain keeps them going. Destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world, Roser and Victor will find that home might have been closer than they thought all along.
The prompt for my 2020 Reading Challenge was to read a historical fiction novel.
A Long Petal of the Sea is a story of the Spanish war that leads to a migration. It is a generational story/family saga rich with characters, relationships and history. The characters are all richly defined, deeply connected to their family, their culture, their country, as their lives are shaped by the political landscape.
Victor and Roser Dalmau leave their home at the brink of WWII at the tail end of the Spanish Civil war. After much hardship, loss and suffering they arrive in Chile as refugees, which becomes their home for many years and where the reader really gets completely intertwined in them as individuals and a taste of the different types of love that exist and carry a person through trials and hardships.
“Nothing can grow in the shade of secrets, she would say, love needs light and space to flourish.”
Although it is a bit of a slow read, it is gorgeous and rich, deep with intense longing, love and identity.