Grade : A-

Has anyone ever chronicled (and added magic to) the lives of women with such grace and beauty as Isabel Allende?  If you’ve read one of the author’s books you don’t need me to tell you what you’ll find between the beautiful covers of Violeta.  Magical realism.  And the story of one woman’s life and loves.

The book takes the narrative form of a letter written by Violeta Del Valle to Camilo, a person much beloved to her. Violeta was born in the middle of a great storm in 1920 and the Spanish flu pandemic, and now she is dying in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. The only daughter of her worn-out former beauty mother and controlled but loving businessman father, Violeta is ambitious. She has five brothers, one of whom is already in his mid-twenties by the time she is born.  Her father dies in the midst of revolution and stock market crashes, Violeta finds his body and is traumatized forever,  and a now-penniless Violeta and her sickly mother move to the countryside of Chile and the bosom of her mother’s family.  With her father’s death the family splinters; Violeta becomes a teacher at thirteen, marries, moves to America and becomes an equal partner in her older brother’s construction firm.  She subsequently tumbles into two important relationships; one staid and passionless, one passionate but led by an abusive, immature and manipulative man.

At this point in her career it’s almost impossible to critique Isabel Allende’s work; she has hit a mature stride that rings with confidence in Violeta.  The novel does a lovely job chronicling the world Violeta inhabits and the people she loves and loathes.  Allende, as always, paints a rich portrait of a period long gone. There are, as always, ghosts involved, together with the promise of healing.  Many characters cross Violeta’s path and influence her life, and all of them are drawn well and richly.  My favorite was Violeta’s independently minded bisexual Irish expat governess, Miss Taylor, who dispenses sensible advice that helps Violeta become an independent businesswoman.

Allende’s self-assured talent is on full display as always, and there’s never a falsely used word.  The only complaint I have is that the novel sometimes falls into that women’s fiction trap of having every single disaster that could possibly happen to a cis woman happen to her protagonist.  But Allende is so talented she effortlessly navigates these waters, and Violeta is a darn good novel.

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Reviewed by Lisa Fernandes

Grade: A-

Book Type: Fiction

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : January 30, 2022

Publication Date: 01/2022

Recent Comments …

  1. I’ve not read The Burnout, but I’ve read other Sophie Kinsella’s books and they are usually hilarious rather than angsty…

Lisa Fernandes

Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at, follow her on Twitter at or contribute to her Patreon at or her Ko-Fi at
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