Portrait in Sepia
by Isabel Allende

HarperCollins, NY, 2001. ISBN 0066211611.
Reviewed by Judith Helburn
Posted on 02/21/2002

Fiction: Multi-Cultural; Fiction: Literary

"Through photography and the written word, I try desperately to conquer the transitory nature of my existence, to trap moments before they evanesce, to untangle the confusion of my past. Every instant disappears in a breath and immediately becomes the past; reality is ephemeral and changing, pure longing."

Here is the story of Aurora del Valle, granddaughter of the powerful Paulina del Valle and of Eliza Sommers [the protagonist in Daughter of Fortune]. Allende weaves another web of tangled relationships, passion and heroism using the voice of a young girl living first in San Francisco, and then in Chile at the end of the nineteenth century. She depicts love in its many forms from the passion of youth to the comfort and subtlety in old age, from that of the family to cruel exploitation and the consequences of all of them.

Margaret Sayers Penden is a fine translator. Luscious, delicious, savory. I look forward to the next one.

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