Portrait in Sepia
By Isabel Allende
(HarperCollins, Hardcover, 9780066211619, 320pp.)
Publication Date: November 2001
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Internationally celebrated novelist Isabel Allende has written a magnificent historical novel set at the end of the nineteenth century in Chile, a marvelous family saga that takes up and continues the story begun in her highly acclaimed Daughter of Fortune.
Recounted in the voice of a young woman in search of her roots, Portrait in Sepia is a novel about memory and family secrets. Aurora del Valle suffers a brutal trauma that shapes her character and erases from her mind all recollection of the first five years of her life. Raised by her ambitious grandmother, the regal and commanding Paulina del Valle, she grows up in a privileged environment, free of the limitations that circumscribe the lives of women at that time, but tormented by horrible nightmares. When she is forced to recognize her betrayal at the hands of the man she loves, and to cope with the resulting solitude, she decides to explore the mystery of her past.
Portrait in Sepia is an extraordinary achievement: richly detailed, epic in scope, intimate in its probing of human character, and thrilling in the way it illuminates the complexity of family ties.
"Rich and complex ... Allende exercises her supreme storytelling abilities ... a grand installment in an already impressive repertoire."
-Publishers Weekly (* Starred Review *)
"Complex, intriguing, ambitious … it's Allende's remarkable flair for character that makes it all come alive."
“Portrait in Sepia is rich with color and emotion and packed with intriguing characters.”
-San Francisco Chronicle