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A Long Petal of the Sea

By: Isabel Allende, Nick Caistor, Amanda Hopkinson
Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini
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Publisher's summary

New York Times Best Seller

From the author of The House of the Spirits, this epic novel spanning decades and crossing continents follows two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a place to call home.

“One of the most richly imagined portrayals of the Spanish Civil War to date, and one of the strongest and most affecting works in [Isabel Allende’s] long career.” (The New York Times Book Review)

Named One of The Best Books of The Year By Esquire Good Housekeeping Parade

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, Roser and Victor 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, the couple embraces exile as the rest of Europe erupts in world war. Starting over on a new continent, they face trial after trial, but they will also find joy as they patiently await the day when they might go home. 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.

A masterful work of historical fiction about hope, exile, and belonging, A Long Petal of the Sea shows Isabel Allende at the height of her powers.

Praise for A Long Petal of the Sea

“Both an intimate look at the relationship between one man and one woman and an epic story of love, war, family, and the search for home, this gorgeous novel, like all the best novels, transports the reader to another time and place, and also sheds light on the way we live now.” (J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Saints for All Occasions)

“This is a novel not just for those of us who have been Allende fans for decades, but also for those who are brand-new to her work: What a joy it must be to come upon Allende for the first time. She knows that all stories are love stories, and the greatest love stories are told by time.” (Colum McCann, National Book Award-winning author of Let the Great World Spin)

©2020 Isabel Allende (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"Edoardo Ballerini's sensitive narration of Isabel Allende's lyrical prose touches the heart.... Ballerini expertly delivers Allende's reminder of how delicate the boundary is between precious freedom and insidious tyranny. Powerful listening." (AudioFile Magazine)

"Majestic...both timeless and perfectly timed for today...Allende’s assured prose vividly evokes her fictional characters [and] historical figures...seamlessly juxtaposing exile with homecoming, otherness with belonging, and tyranny with freedom." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"A tale that is seductively intimate and strategically charming...a virtuoso of lucidly well-told, utterly enrapturing fiction...Allende deftly addresses war, displacement, violence, and loss in a novel of survival and love under siege." (Booklist, starred review)

Featured Article: 10 of the Best Hispanic Authors to Listen to Right Now


This list is in no way exhaustive, but it is a great place to discover—or rediscover—exceptional Hispanic writers, many with extensive back catalogs. It’s gratifying to hear these works in the language in which they were written, with gorgeous renditions en español. And while you’ll have plenty of their work to listen to, we also suggest you learn about the lives of each author. Their stories include struggles as immigrants, expatriates, and refugees.

Editor's Pick

A favorite of 2019—now available in English
"If you have read over our Best of the Year list (if you haven’t—you should!) you may know that we chose Largo Pétalo de Mar, the Spanish version of this book, as the best Spanish language title of 2019. I cannot accurately express how much I love this book. I could not stop listening to it from the moment I picked it up, and as soon as I finished it, I began to recommend it to any friend/family member with even a rudimentary grasp of Spanish. Which is why the release of the English translation has restarted my fervent evangelism of Allende’s latest novel; but now, my audience pool has doubled. A Long Petal of the Sea, tell the story of the Dalmau family. Forced to flee home as a result of the Spanish civil war, they find refuge on a ship of migrants headed to Chile and organized by the poet, Pablo Neruda. It is a beautiful expansive story of resilience, hope, assimilation, and even love during one of the western hemisphere’s most tumultuous periods. And if that is not enough to intrigue you, then know that every person who has accepted my recommendation has unequivocally loved it."—Mariana P., Audible Editor