Part family saga and part historical fiction, Isabel Allende’s latest work of fiction is the story of Victor Dalmau, his friends and his family. The novel begins in 1938 in Catalonia, Spain. Victor, although not yet a doctor, is working at an overcrowded understaffed hospital. When Franco takes over the country, Victor must leave Spain for France where he meets up with Roser who is pregnant with his deceased brother’s child. As the Germans take over France, Victor and Roser marry, so they can leave together on a boat to Chile. Victor and Roser’s life of peril does not end in Chile. They experience the cruel dictatorship of Pinochet, and escape to Venezuela.
I like interesting works of fiction where I learn something. I know very little about South American politics, but I learned much about Chile’s fairly recent history from reading A Long Petal of the Sea. I was disappointed in Allende’s last novel, In the Midst of Winter, but this one is a winner.