Best selling international author, Isabel Allende tackles her homeland head-on in this staggering, epic romance. 'Portrait in Sepia' is both a magnificent historical novel set at the end of the nineteenth century in Chile and a marvellous family saga peopled by characters from 'Daughter of Fortune' and 'The House of the Spirits', two of Allende's most celebrated novels. As a young girl, Aurora del Valle suffered a brutal trauma that has shaped her character and erased from her mind all recollection of the first five years of her life. Raised by her ambitious grandmother, the regal and commanding Paulina del Valle, she grows up in a privileged environment, free of the limitations that circumscribe the lives of women at that time, but tormented by terrible nightmares. When she finds herself alone at the end of an unhappy love affair, she decides to explore the mystery of her past, to discover what it was, exactly, all those years ago, that had such a devastating effect on her young life. Richly detailed, epic in scope, this engrossing story of the dark power of hidden secrets is intimate in its probing of human character, and thrilling in the way it illuminates the complexity of family ties.
A new novel from Isabel Allende is always a cause of celebration for her many fans. Portrait in Sepia continues the story of characters from her previous novel, Daughter of Fortune. Eliza Sommers and the Chinese healer, Tao Chi'en are now living together with their two children in the Chinese quarter of late 19th-century San Francisco. This novel spans nearly 50 eventful years of history (from 1862 to 1910) and shifts location from San Francisco to Chile via spells in London and Europe. It is packed with ideas and history, taking in such diverse events as the bloody civil wars of Chile and advances in the development of photography and surgery. The story centres on Aurora del Valle who at the age of five, after the brutal death of her grandfather, Tao-Chi'en, is left with her Chilean paternal grandmother, the formidable entrepreneur, Paulina del Valle. Over the years, after an unorthodox upbringing in Chile, Aurora manages to piece together the mystery of her ancestry and to understand the source of her recurring nightmares. The novel is peppered with a host of fascinating characters, but most significantly it re-introduces Severo and Nivea del Valle, characters from her much-loved first novel, The House of Spirits. Although none of Allende's subsequent books have ever quite recaptured the special magic and originality of that first novel, she remains a consummate storyteller, her characters always engaging and her powers of description vivid. While it is not necessary to have read Daughter of Fortune to appreciate Portrait in Sepia, the latter certainly whets the appetite for a return to The House of Spirits. (Kirkus UK)
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 8th July 2002
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 13.0 x 1.8
Weight (kg): 0.23