A Long Petal of the Sea

A Novel
Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini
Length: 9 hrs and 46 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (285 ratings)

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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)

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 2,000 other refugees, they 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, they embrace exile as the rest of Europe erupts in world war. Starting over on a new continent, their trials are just beginning, and over the course of their lives, they will face trial after trial. But they will also find joy as they patiently await the day when they will be exiles no more. 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. Isabel Allende is a legend and this might be her finest book yet." (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

"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)

"A Long Petal of the Sea is a rich and transportive novel, epic in scope, about finding love and finding home." (PopSugar)

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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An Classic

A long-time fan this story returns me to the earlier style of Allende. A rapid story-line offering the depths of a 1,000 pages and the breadth of a lifetime. The weaving of historical facts with the lyrical style of the characters is why I so love this author. Thank you for thre experience!

8 people found this helpful

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Stultifying. sorry.

I hung in to the end but never was engaged. The drone of the story was misery. It wasn’t boring exactly, how can descriptions of excruciating, unimaginable torture be boring. But the characters seemed like place holders.

3 people found this helpful

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An Astounding Read!

One of my new all time favorites- beautifully written, wonderful characters who now live in my head. And a fantastic history lesson on how authoritarian regimes destroy lives.

Read this!!!

3 people found this helpful

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Bad audio!

The story was fine it was the audio that was AWFUL! He read as if on speed and ran some words together. If I put it on slower speed it was like listening to a drunk narrator.
I thought maybe it was my app so I reloaded it. That didn’t help and my other books are fine!
I had to just download the book from Kindle and read it! I wanted this for a road trip!

2 people found this helpful

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Once again Isabel Allende sweeps me away

Impossible to put down. Isabel transports you to another time & place. Having grown up in Argentina in the 80s, it resonates with the political struggles of the era when i was there.

2 people found this helpful

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This book was rather boring.

I’ve read a number of Allende’s books but just couldn’t get into it. I did listen to the end but it felt like a chore rather than a pleasure.

1 person found this helpful

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Wonderfully immersive experience

I rarely write reviews, but felt that both this book by Allende, and the narration by Ballerini were extraordinary. He truly made her writing come alive, and the skilled nuance that he brought to each character voice made all the difference in listening to the book rather than reading it. Highly recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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Again a masterpiece from Mme Allende



This is a gripping tale with very well portrayed, strong characters - so much so that quite often I thought "but wait a minute, he is just like Uncle X or Aunt Y!". Thus it was also interesting for me to see how these characters lived their lives - often in torment - in parts of the world not so well known to me (including their histories); and how their strength brought them through hell at times. And how many, many events in the book happened in a very different location but almost the same way for my family.
The book also gave a good and different insight both into the Spanish Civil war and the modern history of Chile.

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It's an OK book for me

Maybe I'm not the type, this story I'm not really like. Historic fiction, and some parts in here that I don't understand.

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Powerful and So Timely

So beautifully written and so incredibly and powerfully relevant to what we’re living through in the US right now.