FICTION

Violeta

Ballantine Jan. 2022. 336p. tr. from Spanish by Frances Riddle. ISBN 9780593496206. $28. F
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Allende’s latest is bookended by twin pandemics: Violeta is born during the South American wave of the 1918 flu and dies as COVID-19 begins to sweep the world. Born into a privileged family that loses its fortune in the 1929 stock market crash, Violeta and her family are taken in by rural relatives of a family friend. Throughout several lovers and marriages, political upheaval, and societal changes, Violeta becomes a successful businesswoman and eventually gets involved in social justice movements. Her most significant romance is her tempestuous relationship with adventurous pilot Julian Bravo, though they never marry. Personal tragedies involving her son and daughter finally force Violeta to realize that she is not immune to the impact of social and political change and that she has a place in working toward solutions.
VERDICT As this is a chronological reflection on a long life, the novel has an episodic feel, with events sweeping along at a rapid clip, though Allende still manages to pepper the tale with an abundance of memorable characters. Violeta is a character who follows her passions and lives an unconventional life but never stops evolving along with the century in which she lives. Recommended for all collections.
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