This is another book I have used in my Political Fiction Independent Study, and the first book I ever read by Isabel Allende - I absolutely love it! Although House of Spirits (which I will review in a later post) also brilliantly talks about the military coup of 1973 during the last part of the novel, this book addresses it immediately and is the premise of the entire story. Like most political fiction novels, it uses facts about the state of Chile during these troubling times. Irene, a well-off journalist meets Francisco, a lower-class Spaniard whose family left Spain when Franco came into power. They embark on a journey where they discover the ugly truth of the behind-the-scenes actions of the military dictatorship. This forces Irene to open her eyes to the atrocities of the party that her social class supports. The silver lining? The relationship that Irene and Francisco forge. This is where we start to understand the title – Of Love and Shadow.
During this novel, you will learn not only about Chile and Spain, but you’ll also see some classical elements from contemporary Latin American literature: magical realism and incestual relationships. It is mature and I encourage students 17 years old or higher (and those who have taken AP Spanish Language and Culture due to the level of difficulty) to read it. For any adults who enjoy this genre and Allende’s writing, you will not be disappointed!