La Casa de los Espíritus (House of Spirits) by Isabel Allende (♦♦♦♦♦)
Three generations of the family Trueba-Del Valle converge in this sweeping saga spanning most of the twentieth century in Chile. Esteban, the stubborn patriarch, and his granddaughter Alba, tell the unfolding story of the family amidst convulse political changes sweeping their country and the world.
In Eva Luna, I felt that the story was forced and uneven, though it was compelling and funny at times. I liked City of the Beasts more than I did Eva Luna. The description of the expedition by boat through the Amazon jungle was atmospheric, simply transporting. However, in House of the Spirits, Allende achieved something quite remarkable and unique: it is effortless storytelling--not deprived of literary recourses but a fascinating story nonetheless--in which time isn't needed to orient the reader because the plot unfolds of its own accord; the result is a modern classic of Latin American literature.
House of Spirits is an enthralling narrative in which oracles and the paranormal coexist with the reality of daily life and the hallucinating political landscape that takes shape between the pages. The story is timeless because it isn't constrained by dates, nor it is constrained to a specific country though no doubt Allende is alluding convulse political changes that Chile underwent in modern times.
I loved House of Spirits. I think that Isabel Allende consecrated herself in the pantheon of great writers in the Spanish language with this novel alone. My favorite characters were Esteban Trueba (for his sound political views and his strong character) and Clara (for being so ethereal most of the times, yet so grounded when situations called for a leveled head). I felt more identified with those two characters than I did with the rest.