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girlwellread

Girl Well Read

Girl Well Read 

Published book reviewer, blogger of books & book lifestyle products, wine drinker and polka dot lover. I’d love to review your book next!  Follow me on Instagram and Twitter (@girlwellread), Pintrest, Litsy, Goodreads, LibraryThing, BookLikes, and ReadFeed (Girl Well Read).

 

In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

In the Midst of Winter: A Novel - Isabel Allende

A special thank you to NetGalley, Atria, and Simon & Schuster Canada for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

 

Three different people are brought together in an interesting premise that travels from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to Chile and Brazil in the 1970s.

 

The story opens with a minor car accident which becomes the catalyst for an unexpected relationship between two people who thought they were living in the winter of their lives. Richard Bowmaster is a 60-year-old American human rights scholar that had lived for a time in Brazil.  During a snowstorm, Richard hits the car that Evelyn Ortega is driving.  She is a young, undocumented immigrant from Guatemala working as a nanny in the city.  At first it seems like a just a minor fender bender, but when Evelyn turns up at the professor’s house needing help, the situation becomes serious.  Richard doesn't know what to do with the young woman so he calls on his tenant, Lucia Maraz for her advice.  Lucia is a 62-year-old lecturer from Chile who is attracted to Richard but has given up any hope of a more intimate relationship.  

 

These three very different people are brought together in a captivating story.  Allende's narrative moves from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil and sparks the beginning of a long overdue love story between the two older characters, Richard and Lucia.

 

Allende explores the timely issues of human rights and the plight of immigrants and refugees.  It is a much needed novel in these regards.  However, having the story unfold the way it does is a disservice to the weighty topics that she depicts.  The structure is disjointed—the life stories are much more interesting than the modern day storyline that binds the characters together and I felt that Allende should have used another narrative style.  The backstories are beautifully written and incredibly moving in their harsh realities but again, the present day plot takes away from this.  Perhaps this was done on purpose, to juxtapose a love story against the darkness.