Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Book Review: Violeta by Isabel Allende


Goodreads Overview:

This sweeping novel from the New York Times bestselling author of A Long Petal of the Sea tells the epic story of Violeta del Valle, a woman whose life spans one hundred years and bears witness to the greatest upheavals of the twentieth century.

Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family of five boisterous sons. From the start, her life will be marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth.

Through her father's prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses all and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling. 

She tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, times of both poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. Her life will be shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women's rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and, ultimately, not one but two pandemics.

Jacque's Review:

This was the "Gator Girls" book club selections back in April 2022. I have mentioned them before, but they are a group of Bonita Bay Club residents, which is where my mom lives in Florida. I loved the first book they selected, which was The Maid by Nita Prose, but this was more of a 2.5-star book for me. (I rounded it up to 3 on Goodreads) I did read the book back when they read it, so you can clearly see how far behind I am on my book reviews. I am trying to make a concerted effort to catch up over the next month or two.

I enjoyed the characters and learning some of the historical elements that were woven into this story, but it was a bit slow. The story was told in a very matter of fact sort of way like a history lesson. I didn't feel like there was an attempt to capture the reader and hold their attention at any point in the book. Violta is 100 years old and is writing letters to her grandson about her life. With several major world events including wars, depressions, plaques, women's rights issues, births, deaths, etc. you would have thought there was endless potential to keep the pages turning, but I struggled to get through this one. I also couldn't imagine putting some of the topics in writing, much less to your grandson. I understand wanting to share your history with future generations, but some things are better left unknown. 

I am the kind of reader who enjoys the types of books Reese Witherspoon selects for her book club. I have tried reading a couple of Oprah's picks in the past and they just weren't for me. They are usually very educational, inspirational, insightful, etc., but tend to lack the entertainment value. That is how I felt about this book. I'm sure many people will enjoy reading this, but it just wasn't for me. 

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