The House of the Spirits

A Novel
Length: 18 hrs and 51 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,359 ratings)

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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

Editor's Pick

Strong women and magical realism, just a few of my favorite things
"I must admit that it took my mother a lot of persuading to get me to read this book for the first time while I was in college. I had recently emerged from a successful mission to read One Hundred Years of Solitude, (which I raved on and on about for a two-week period) and Isabel Allende’s House of Spirits was an obvious follow up in her mind. Boy was she right. Allende’s four-generation epic is a book that will stay with you forever with its vivid characters and tantalizing scenery. From the moment you hear Marisol Ramirez utter those words "Barrabas came to us by sea.." you’ll know you are in for the long haul."
Mariana P., Audible Editor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    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!!!

36 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    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.... :-(

34 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    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.

65 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This is my favorite book; female narrator sucked

I have waited for this book on audible FOR EVER!!!! Then to have this person just destroy the story with this presentation is so sad. I agree the pauses were annoying. However her reading this book as if she is reading to someone who is learning English as a second language and without any emotion is so heart wrenching. Her pronounciation is great; ‘A’ for effort. That is not the purpose of this audible book. I thought I could tolerate it and let the book stand on its own; it cannot. This is a beautiful story full of emotion and they chose a narrator that is castrated to read it. Plus her only spanish pronounciation of the names with her bland presentation is so absurd. I understand that I probably could not have done a better job. However, my job is not narrating. I expected the ending to have more of a flow to bring you back to the beginning like it should; instead, it just died. Please redo this great book with an actual narrator and do it the great justice it deserves. This is my favorite book and I am just heart broken that it has been done such a disservice.

17 people found this helpful

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    3 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

14 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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not big on the narrator

great story but the narrators didn't quite do for me. might have liked the book more otherwise

7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Better read, perhaps.

I wish that I had read this instead of listening. There are so many characters and it covers so much time that I wanted to go back to check on previous events and people but that was not possible in the audible format.

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    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.

13 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Why is this rated so high?

I have no idea why this book is rated so high because it missed the mark so many time. It had potential, but is a flop. The most interesting thing the book has going for it, is that it's set in a time of Chilean history that is incredibly interesting politically. However the book doesn't really explain what's happening so if you're not familiar with the rise of the socialist party in the 1960/1970, Allende and Pinochet then your probably have no idea what's going on. Secondly, the characters lack depth. They are all so simple and extreme exaggeration that it's hard to take serious and there are just too many story lines and a lot of them don't get completely resolved. It kind of felt like the author was throwing everything at the wall to see what would stick. And lastly, how could a premise so intriguing wind up so boring? It's really frustrating. This book was multigenerational, political, romantic, intriguing and had hints of magic. Why was it so dull?

6 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Very hard to follow

This book is a translation, that I tried very hard to get into. I have listened to other translated books and found them entertaining once I got past the cultural nuances. The characters in this book are interesting, but many are disappointing. Which pretty much sums up my experience. I listened till the very end, but could not tell you what the plot is. Had I not gotten this as a buy one get on free, I would have returned it.

2 people found this helpful