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A Long Petal of the Sea

"Intimate, engaging, fascinating, the focus on a couple seeking refuge after the Spanish Civil War crosses continents and opens hearts and minds."

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

An incredibly engaging, fascinating, and rather beautiful read, this book will stay with me for some time. A couple seek refuge after the Spanish Civil War and end up in Chile, where years later they again face exile. Covering the period from 1938 through to 1994, this is a story that crosses continents, examines topics such as fascism, war, and migration, yet is as intimate as intimate can be. I entered and thought no more about the fact that this was translated from Spanish by Nick Caister and Amanda Hopkinson, it is so clearly, simply, and fabulously done. Within the first few pages there were tears in my eyes. I couldn’t stop reading, thoughtful and sensitive, yet not afraid to focus on unbearable sorrow, this feels as though it could be a biography. As Isabelle Allende explains in the acknowledgments, while this is a novel, with fictional characters (though based on people she has known), the historical events and people are real. She says: “This book wrote itself, as if it had been dictated to me” and I truly felt that. A Long Petal of the Sea opened my eyes and my heart, and has left me wanting to know more. Coming as highly recommended by me, it has also been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book.

Liz Robinson

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Reader Reviews

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An intense read about an awful time in Europe's history, bringing to life the suffering of many people.

A sweeping saga that spans 7 decades beginning in 1936 in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, just as Franco was coming into power. The story centres around Victor Dalmau, a young man who, with his family, has to flee from Spain to France along with many thousands of others to escape the brutality of Franco's reign.

The conditions are horrific both on the road and in France and many die along the way. Eventually, Victor escapes to Chile on the Winnepeg, a ship sent out to rescue some of the refugees. The story then follows Victor as he makes a new life in Chile where he finds hardship and love.

This is a period of history that I knew virtually nothing about and found it thoroughly engrossing. It is well written with excellent characterisation.... Read Full Review

christine woolfenden

A Long Petal of the Sea is part family saga, part history lesson. It adds a deep level of humanity to its representation of historical events.

I have read several of Isabelle Allende’s books and am always struck by her writing style. It is succinct, no flowery language, and it leaves you to use your own imagination.

A Long Petal of the Sea is part family saga, part history lesson. It ranges from the 1930s during the Spanish civil war, through to Chile in 1984, during Pinochet’s repressions and beyond. I had only basic knowledge of these periods of 20th-century history and it initially took a bit of time to understand the different sides and battles of the Spanish Civil War. Once I had grasped that, I became engrossed in the lives and challenges of Victor, Roser and the assorted characters whose paths they cross. I was particularly moved by the flight of the refugees over the border from Spain into France and the fate that awaited them there.... Read Full Review

Alison Burns

Follow the fates of Roser and Victor as they flee the brutalities of the Spanish civil war to find a better life in Chile. This couple who are forced together out of necessity face adversity again and again.

A Long Petal of the Sea is an epic tale spanning the course of over 40 years as we follow a couple Roser and Victor as they experience the Spanish civil war and then their journey to Chile as refugees to start a new life. The couple is forced together by necessity and not love as Roser is pregnant by Victor's brother. But when the Spanish civil war takes casualties from each family including Roser's love, Victor takes her on as his wife in order to ensure safe passage to Chile.

The book then follows their life in South America as they come to realise that the political situation there is not as peaceful as they had always believed.

This is a fascinating book which is a brilliant character study.... Read Full Review

Jo Corrado