Friday, August 08, 2008

Family Portrait

Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende may be quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Chronologically, Portrait in Sepia occurs between her novels The House of Spirits and Daughter of Fortune, and links all the characters of these two previous novels. The narrator, Aurora del Valle, is the granddaughter of Eliza and Tao Ch'ien and Paulina del Valle. Additionally, Severo del Valle and Nivea, who are the parents of Clara from The House of Spirits, make appearances as a young couple. Certain themes tend to reoccur from the other novels: Eliza, her daughter Lynn and Aurora all make horrible decisions when it comes to first loves, but have more luck with their second chances.

While Aurora is the narrator, Paulina often dominates the novel. Mostly, Aurora seems to be telling more of a family history than narrating her own life. Aurora does not remember what happened to her in the first five years of her life, and finally discovers the truth at the end of the novel. The final explanation isn't too much of a mystery or even very suprising, but it actually never seemed to important to find out the truth for the story to progress, and instead the revelation simply provides the reader with additional information and closure with another character.

It doesn't have as much going on plot-wise perhaps as the other two novels, but rather is simply a straight-forward narrative about the del Valle family, and an opportunity to reconnect with some of the characters from her other novels.

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