Sometimes fleeing is the only way to freedom. But leaving isn’t the most difficult part—it is returning that proves most heart-wrenching. A new and passionate historical novel from bestselling author Isabel Allende.
[English edition: A Long Petal of the Sea / Isabel Allende / 9781984820150 (Ballantine Books, 1/21/2020)]
In the midst of the Spanish Civil War, the young Víctor Dalmau, a nurse on the front lines of the Republican side, along with Roser Bruguera, who is pregnant with Victor’s brother’s baby, are forced into exile and set off to cross the Pyrenees towards France.
Meanwhile, Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet and consul in Paris, is in charge of organizing the transatlantic voyage that will take more than two thousand exiled Spaniards to Chile, aboard the French steamer SS Winnipeg. Víctor, Roser and her newborn son are among the passengers who embark on the trip to the Andean country in search of peace and freedom. They arrive in Valparaíso, are hailed as heroes by the Chileans, and discover the country that was once defined by Neruda as “a long petal of sea and wine and snow.”
Once in Santiago de Chile, Victor will meet Ofelia del Solar and together they will become entangled in a brief but intense romance. They will bask in the complicity of Juana Nancucheo, the indigenous maid “of an uncertain age” who takes care of the Del Solar family. But when Ofelia becomes pregnant, she and Victor will be forced to hide from everyone.
Over the years, Victor and Roser will integrate into the social and economic life of the country. Victor will frequent doctor Salvador Allende, with whom he shared not just the medical vocation, but also a love for chess. However, Victor and Roser’s relationship will be brutally upended in 1973, forcing them both to relive episodes of a life that they thought they’d left behind.