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My Invented Country

4.5 (1930)

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | My Invented Country.pdf | Language: ENGLISH

A highly personal memoir of exile and homeland, filled with the wit, melancholy and distinctive voice that have charmed readers of her fiction.

My Invented Country is a memoir about her native Chile that acknowledges the role of memory and nostalgia in shaping her life, her books, and her very connection to that most intimate place of origin. Allende revisits the imaginary Chile of her childhood and young adult years as well as the real one that exists today. She evokes the magnificent landscapes of the country, a charming, idiosyncratic Chilean people with a violent history and indomitable spirit, and the politics, religion, myth and magic of her homeland that she carries with her even today. The book curls itself around two life–changing moments. The assassination of her uncle, Salvador Allende Gossens, on September 11, 1973, sent her into exile and transformed her into a literary writer; and the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, on her newly adopted homeland. It speaks compellingly to immigrants, and to all of us, who try to retain a coherent inner life in a world full of contradictions.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

"Nostalgia is my vice," admits Isabel Allende in My Invented Country. A question about nostalgia propels an exploration of her past, including the complicated history and politics of Chile, where she spent the better part of her childhood. Despite her strong connection to Chile, Allende says she has "been an outsider nearly all my life." Her stepfather was a diplomat, so her family moved quite frequently. In her travel diary, Allende compares everything to Chile, her "one eternal reference" point. Allende's novels-The House of the Spirits; Eva Luna; Daughter of Fortune; etc.-are of the sweeping epic variety, often historical and romantic, weaving in elements of North and South American culture. As with most fiction writers, Allende's work is inspired by personal experiences, and in this memoir-cum-study of her "home ground," the author delves into the history, social mores and idiosyncrasies of Chile, where she was raised, showing, in the process, how that land has served as her muse. Allende was born in Peru in 1942, but spent much of her childhood-and a significant portion of her adulthood-in Santiago (she now lives in California). She ruminates on Chilean women (their "attraction lies in a blend of strength and flirtatiousness that few men can resist"); the country's class system ("our society is like a phyllo pastry, a thousand layers, each person in his place"); and Chile's turbulent history ("the political pendulum has swung from one extreme to another; we have tested every system of government that exists, and we have suffered the consequences"). She readily admits her view is subjective-to be sure, she is not the average Chilean (her stepfather was a diplomat; her uncle, Salvador Allende, was Chile's president from 1970 until his assassination in 1973). And at times, her assessments transcend Chile, especially when it comes to comments on memory and nostalgia. This is a reflective book, lacking the pull of Allende's fiction but unearthing intriguing elements of the author's captivating history.Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Review Text

  • By Escéptico on October 18, 2010

    I read the book in the original Spanish because I live in Chile. Readers should be fully aware that much of the Chile that Allende seeks to describe has washed away with time. As with most nostalgia trips, the focus here is on hazy perceptions. Allende has not been chilena for a long time, if ever. She is arguably more californiana than chilena. In fact she was born and lived for much of her life outside Chile. So the title "invented" is correct, and perhaps the book could be almost considered fiction since there is no category called Invention. I suspect that most of the people who make comments on this book have never lived in Chile and have wrongly formed their opinions from a predominantly leftist press that also relies on invention and wishful thinking. The opinions about Chilean political circumstances tend to confirm that idea of invention Still, I enjoyed the book. Even a cracked mirror can reflect an amusing, if distorted, version of the true original.

  • By Patrick J. OConnor on June 24, 2010

    It's about time we at The Literate Man expand our minds and broaden our horizons to include more talented female authors. One of our favorites is Isabel Allende. She has a gift for storytelling and is one of literature's living treasures.If you've ever read any of her books you'll begin to notice that most of them cover very similar territory, and you might be forgiven for thinking that all of them sort of bleed into a single, larger narrative. My Invented Country (Mi País Inventado, if you're looking for the original) is no different in this regard. If you're looking for fresh ideas from Allende's cannon you won't find them here. But if you're looking for a light read that will put a smile on your face and fill your brain with snippets of knowledge about her birth country of Chile, this book will more than suffice.Because The Literate Man's global headquarters are located in Miami--the capital of Latin America and fertile ground for Chilean expats (hola muchachos!)--we at The Literate Man have been to known run in certain Chilean circles. So I have to admit that my particular interest in My Invented Country wasn't of a purely literary bent, but rather a bit of personal research to see what makes our Chilean friends tick.Promising to "evoke the magnificent landscape of her country," and "the enchanting idiosyncrasies of the Chilean people," I was hooked as soon as I read the back cover. Admittedly, my knowledge of this most southern of South American countries is limited to the information I gather from expat friends and a reporter friend in Santiago who writes about professional basketball there. So it was with great interest and great pleasure that I read this book.Allende, in a way that perhaps only she can, weaves a personal, cultural, political, historical (and any other descriptive modifier ending in `-al' that you can think of), account of a little-known country rich in narrative. And with her gifted and quirky eye for the details that lay just under the surface this is a great Idiots Guide to Chile.So whether you're looking to learn more about the rich and turbulent history of Chile from the Spanish colonial conquest to post-Pinochet democracy, the mouth watering cuisine of one the world's major fisheries, the craziness of Allende's mythic family, or you if you'd simply like to partake of her talent as a storyteller, you'll find all that and more in My Invented Country.It's probably as close as you can get to visiting Chile without leaving the comfort of your favorite reading chair.

  • By FML on March 14, 2016

    This book is not about Chile or Chileans but more about giving us a synopsis of her life. As she correctly warns the reader, she tends to greatly exaggerate and be very subjective in her comments about behaviors and attitudes in Chile. I feel she stayed in the past and does not realize how much this Country has changed. Very importantly, her comments about repression during the dictatorship years are greatly exaggerated and are all fantasies of her mind since she was not living in Chile at the time, but rather trying to make a living in Venezuela with two kids

  • By A customer on July 14, 2003

    This book is delightful, humorous, and beautiful like its author. A wonderful memoir full of insights about Chile and about life in the US. This book reflects Allende's warmth and passion. A brilliant book from a brilliant writer. Highly recommended.

  • By Gerard White on June 21, 2016

    I picked up this memoir after reading Allende's foreword in a copy of Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America. Knowing Allende was the niece of Salvador Allende, I was interested in how that turbulent time shaped her life. I had no idea Isabel Allende was such an accomplished writer or had published so many books, I simply knew her for her connections to the man ousted by Pinochet. This book has made me an Isabel Allende fan!I've never read a memoir which is so poetic and full of insight not only into the character of the writer, but into life itself. Several chapters in I no longer cared about her connections to Salvador Allende or the coming coup of 1973, but was memorized by her ability to weave a story, to reflect on the lives of others, and to offer numerous insights into the meaning of a well lived life.Sure enough, later in the book there are chapters on Salvador Allende and Pinochet, and they are remarkably reflective and powerful (especially her discussion of the difference between an exile and an immigrant), yet those won't be the moments I remember.What I will remember is the beauty of Chile, the importance of being outspoken, and the need for us all to be "patiperros"!

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