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Publisher's Summary

The unforgettable first novel that established Isabel Allende as one of the world's most gifted and imaginative storytellers.

The House of the Spirits brings to life the triumphs and tragedies of three generations of the Trueba family. The patriarch Esteban is a volatile, proud man whose voracious pursuit of political power is tempered only by his love for his delicate wife, Clara, a woman with a mystical connection to the spirit world. When their daughter, Blanca, embarks on a forbidden love affair in defiance of her implacable father, the result is an unexpected gift to Esteban: his adored granddaughter, Alba, a beautiful and strong-willed child who will lead her family and her country into a revolutionary future.

One of the most important novels of the 20th century, The House of the Spirits is an enthralling epic that spans decades and lives, weaving the personal and the political into a universal story of love, magic, and fate.

©1982 Isabel Allende (P)2016 Simon & Schuster

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Narrators spoil it

This is such a great story and I want so much to listen to the whole thing but the narrators are both distracting and monotonous at the same time.
The female narrator has a habit of reading to the end of a line as if there is a period then putting the wrong emphasis on the beginning of the next, as if it's a new sentence.
They both lack the acting nuances to pull off the emotion that is written so well in this book.
It's a darn shame.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Audio Presentation Lacked Enthusiasm!

The audio book would have been more interesting if presented by defferent narrators! The beginning was boring because of their almost monotone presenation. Towards the end they finally picked it up a notch and began to sound more enthusiastic!
The storyline was good. I enjoyed the ending emensly!!!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Slogging through uninspired narration

I listened to Elizabeth Pena's gorgeous, luscious reading of the Stories of Eva Luna before moving on to The House of the Spirits. Ms Pena gave such depth, vivacity, and life to Ms Allende's beautiful, descriptive, and poetic writing through her emotional intelligence and willingness to give the narration her all. Then I started The House of the Spirits and ... oh dear. I know now how important it is to read reviews. Others warned us all that the narration was difficult to listen to. It's uninspired and how anyone anywhere could take anything written by Isabel Allende and turn it into a monotonous chore is beyond me. The narrators have turned this into a dirge, a really boring dirge. No way of knowing which character is speaking, or when dialogue becomes prose. No emotional difference between what lovers say, what one says to the dead, or a grocery list. In my head, I repeat sentences in the voice of Elizabeth Pena: How would she have delivered this line, this sentiment, this description? I'm only a couple of hours into a 19-hour book and hope to finish it.... I just don't have the time in my life anymore to pick up a paper book and read it, so if I want to follow and finish the story, it's going to be through Audible, but, really, these narrators are uninspired.... :-(

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Passions/Politics of 3 Generations of Chilean Fam.


HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS is Isabel Allende's stunning saga of the Trueba family over 3 generations in Chile ending a few years after the government overthrow led by General Pinochet, the abhorrent right-wing dictator who, with the support of the US gov't, seized the chance opened by fears that the country would be taken over by Marxists.

Ms. Allende', who should soon be Chile's 3d Nobel Laureate in Literature, wrote the novel based loosely on her own family and nation. The novel's fictional characters and events follow closely the lives and times of Chile, Pinochet and Salvadore Allende, her first cousin, once removed, and Chile's socialist president at the time of the coup d'etat. Reports conflict over whether he was assassinated or committed suicide shortly after the coup commenced.

Incidentally, Chile's last Nobel Laureate (1971) was the famous poet Pablo Neruda, who died from poisoning 2 weeks after the coup, some believe upon Pinochet's orders due to Neruda's support of Marxist politicians. Likewise, Allende's fictional famed poet died under suspicious circumstances and his funeral is a significant event in the novel, as civilians on both the left and the right were severely shaken by his death, which foreshadowed several more years of a ruthless, murderous military regime.

Ms. Allende's prose is both graceful and readily comprehensible, as she chronicles a captivating, concinnous tale chiseled in history and filled with passions inflamed by family, politics and power, love and lust, malevolence and mysticism.


The audible edition of this outstanding novel was a long time coming. One would hope a publisher would realize the importance of an established, estimable narrator equal to the work's stature. Here, the patriarch's granddaughter narrated about 95% of the novel, with the rest by the patriarch. While I have nothing against Marisol Ramirez's voice (and am glad the publisher hired a Hispanic narrator), Ms. Ramirez read this spirited novel as if she were reminiscing over a rock collection at a recluse reunion.


Notwithstanding, I highly recommend this audiobook.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Family saga brought to life

Loved it! Great narration, vivid descriptions, good and bad. Fascinating story. Can't wait to hear more by Isabel Allende.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Family saga

Great story. Was very hard to stop listening. It was spellbinding. I experienced a range of emotions from sad to happy to angry.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastical <br />

Engrossing characters, epic historical storyline and steady plot, magic, spirits, love, suffering...all narrated beautifully by two of the main characters. thus book has it all. Hated for it to end.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Blueprints for a topsy-turvy revolution

Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits (the narration is great!) tells the torrid, multi-generational tale of the Trueba (and del Valle) family set in an intricately crafted (yet wholly unnamed) South American landscape. At the outset, Allende is quick to raise the magical-realism banner, and juxtaposes horse-sized dogs and mechanical birds, alongside the struggles and pleasures of pre-20th century South American life. As time pushes forward, the trials and whimsies of the Trueba household mirror and signify the clashes between science, superstition, Marxism, and peaking Capitalism. Although at face value, The House of the Spirits focuses on the kindling of revolution and contrasts vastly incompatible philosophies through unidimensional reactionaries, where it is refreshing is in its depiction of strong, multifaceted, and palpable women characters. I enjoyed this book quite a bit despite it being "García-Márquez-lite" and a little too much longer than it needed to be.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Narration speed

The normal narration speed is super slow. The audio sounds more natural if played on one of the slightly faster settings

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Just as wonderful as I remembered!

Read this book in high school and fell in love with Isabel Allende's writing. Thirty years later the magic is still there!