Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ines of My Soul

I have long been an admirer of Isabel Allende's books and was delighted to find that her latest book, Ines of My Soul is about a famous conquistadora of Chile who in the mid-16th century helps to build the city of Santiago.

The book begins with this fascinating woman's youth in Spain where she marries a man, Juan de Malaga, who leaves her in Spain to pursue riches in the Americas.

After several years in Spain as a "widow of the Americas", Ines negotiates a permit that will allow her to travel across the ocean to join her husband. Upon arriving, she follows information of his whereabouts and travels through the Continent until she learns that her husband died in the battle of Las Salinas. Believing that her husband was pursuing gold--not war--and not wiling to accept the word of others, she travels to Cuzco, Peru, to find out for herself if her husband has died. She learns that all Spanish men were conscripted into battle and that both soldiers and prospecters share a thirst for gold and conquest.

Now a widow in Cuzco, Ines set up a business using her skills as a seamstress and cook and made a living providing for the population. While in Cuzco, she begins a love affair with Pedro de Valdivia and with him sets out to conquer the territory of Chile. The travel from Cuzco through the vast Atacama Desert and hostile territory to the beauiful hills and valleys of the Mapocho river region where the group establishes the city of Santiago took thirteen months.

The court of the Inquisition extends its reach to prosecute Pedro de Valdivia--a married man with a wife in Spain--for his relationship with Ines. The records from his trial provided much of the information that Isabel Allende was able to use in her book.

Ines' perspective from the end of her life, full of the long-term implications of the conquistador's actions, and filtered through the prism of Isabel Allende's wonderful imagination, gives a response to the violent events that are associated with conquest.

The book was enjoyable to me for its historical perspective and geographical information. My favorite Isabel Allende books remain House of Spirits and Eva Luna but I would recommend this one to readers who enjoy history and adventure.


beckie said...

Beth, reading is another of my passions, and a good book will keep me reading til all hours of the night. One of my favorite types is a historical novel so I shall look for this one. Thanks for the look at a new author and book.

The Texican said...

Very well done. I will need to jump genres, but your review is so compelling I feel like I should.

Rondi said...

Thanks for sharing this book! I like Allende, too. I've been to Cuzco, and several of our seniors are going to Chile in a couple of weeks for a mission trip. I'll be telling them about the book tomorrow. They might enjoy reading about a place they are going!

Trixie said...

So, no magical realism?

I have loved some of her work, liked some more. Thanks for the review, because I was wondering about this one, too.

Kathiesbirds said...

Beth, great book report. I love to read and am always looking for new recommendations. I have never heard of this author before and will check it out when I am finsihed with "The Life of the Skies" Thanks! BTW, have you read "The River of Doubt" by Candice Millard? It's about Theodore Roosevelt's Exploration in 1914 of the river by that name is South America. Amazing story and a good read.

TheElementary said...

I so admire Isabel Allende. I have 'My Invented Country' and it's a magical account of her life, but of all her work, I like 'Paula' the best because it shows Allende to be so brave and articulate and emotional. I haven't yet 'Ines of My Soul' yet, but based on what I already know of her, and your report, I'd like to check it out.