• Margo De Weerdt

Eva Luna, Isabel Allende

Updated: May 25, 2021

This book gives me a double feeling. I had high hopes when I started, I always hear quite good reviews of the books of Isabelle Allende. Now, I’ll try to give a short summary. (If you don’t want to know anything before you read it, stop reading now.)

This book follows the life of Eva Luna, she’s born poor to the assistant of a professor, her mother, and a snake-bitten gardener from a native tribe, her father. He leaves before he even knows her mother is pregnant, leaving the mother to raise the child in the grand house of the professor. This doesn’t last very long; Eva is orphaned at a young age. After this, she becomes a servant when she’s still a child. Her mother is still there in her thoughts and she has inherited a love for stories and tales from her. Having quite an exquisite imagination, she shares all her stories with people who are kind to her. You follow her throughout her live as she grows up. Together with her you meet all kinds of people and characters from all walks of life: from her godmother who has a rum problem and a fervent believer in all the Catholic Saints, the Lebanese immigrant who lives in a small village in the mountains who adopts her, the little street ruffian who becomes a revolutionary, a celebrated transsexual entertainer who helps her find her way in her adult life, a man who fled Europe after World War II and tries to find his way in South America, … And so many more.

There were parts that I really enjoyed, and then there were parts where I just got the feeling “How long is this chapter?”. Which is not the kind of feeling I believe an Author hopes for when you read their book. I’ve read the Dutch translation, and it is a possibility that the translation isn’t that great. But if I put that aside, and focus on the story, I still don’t feel “Wow, fantastic book!”. More like: “Parts of it are great, other parts could have been left out.”

At times it seemed as if the story was going in all directions, not quite clear why it was taking a turn, and it did not immediately return to those parts. So then I lost the relevance to the thread for a moment. It came back to it, and then it seemed on course. But it lasted only a few pages and the feeling returned of a 'lost story line'.

Anyway, that’s not to say that there were some absolutely beautiful parts. I think I may need to ‘forget’ this book a little bit and come back to it in a few years. Maybe try the English translation.

If you’ve read it, and have a different take on it: Let me know. I’m always curious.