I have yet to read an Allende book that I don’t like. This one is short, but there’s a lot packed into those pages, and I had a wonderful time with it.
This is a book about life under a military dictatorship in an unnamed country that can only be Chile. Irene, a reporter, and Francisco, a psychologist-turned-photographer, are forced to confront the ugliest side of the regime when a teenage girl disappears immediately after an interview.
As is to be expected from an Allende book, the plot meanders a bit and gives life stories of minor characters; I love this, as it results in a richly textured and interesting cast. They are a diverse bunch, from a wealthy family struggling to maintain their traditional lifestyle, to middle-class immigrants, to impoverished farmers. Without exception, they’re vivid and well-developed, and I was easily drawn into their stories. There is of course a romance between the two protagonists, which I quite enjoyed (okay, I’m a little in love with Francisco myself).
Overall, this is a well-written, well-crafted book, with such a three-dimensional setting and characters that it’s only too easy to relate to their situations and wonder what you would do in similar circumstances. This book seems to get less attention than many of Allende’s other works, perhaps because it was published nearly 30 years ago, but it is still relevant today. I didn’t love it as much as, say, [b:House of the Spirits|9328|The House of the Spirits|Isabel Allende|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1333578754s/9328.jpg|3374404], but it’s still an excellent novel and a worthy read.