This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. As a fan of Isabel Allende (and having read six of her other novels prior), I’m so glad I waited before reading this memoir. Paula is Allende’s daughter with a rare condition, porphyria. In 1991, at the young age of 28, Paula’s condition worsened, and she fell into an irreversible coma. Published in 1994, this is Allende’s farewell letter to her daughter.
Throughout the pages, Allende recounts the long and difficult process of watching her daughter deteriorate in the vain hopes that she will recover. Within her message to her daughter, she recounts her life as a child, a journalist in Chile, the military coup, and the aftermath since, including their exile in Caracas, Venezuela. After having read other books by Allende that talked about the tragic events of September 11, 1973 (The House of the Spirits, My Invented Country, Of Love and Shadow), Allende has this uncanny talent of transporting her readers to those events in many ways. Therefore, when I approached this part of the memoir, I was curious to see if there would be any repetition. Not only was it a different experience, but I learned some intimate facts about Isabel Allende’s experience with the military, and how she was directly threatened by them, forcing her to leave the country and not turn back for years.
I loved every page of this memoir; it was moving, raw and beautiful. However, it is deeply sad, and I suggest waiting until you’re ready, because once you start this book, you can’t put it down. It is one of Allende’s best works.
Available in many languages (English included), you can easily find it on Amazon. The reading is level is university Spanish.