Critical Insights: Isabel Allende
The border between fact and fiction has always been a porous one for Isabel Allende. Her acclaimed first novel, The House of the Spirits, began as a letter to her dying grandfather yet is filled with ghosts and green-haired and clairvoyant women; her memoir Paula, though ostensibly nonfiction, is a moving and highly imaginative account of her family history and the illness and death of her daughter, Paula. Even in the many interviews she has given, Allende has embellished the details of her life to captivate and charm her readers. She has more than succeeded. Around the world, readers have flocked to both her fiction and her nonfiction, making her one of the best-selling women novelists in the world today. Edited and with an introduction by John Rodden, a celebrated Allende scholar, this volume in the Critical Insights series brings together a variety of essays on this Chilean Scheherazade. Rodden's introduction assesses the phases of Allende's career and her growth as a writer, and Michael Wood, writing on behalf of The Paris Review, considers Allende's relation to magical realism. Amanda Hopkinson, in turn, provides a comprehensive biography of Allende and a measured examination of how her life has informed her work.