by Fran Haraway
Boulder City Library
The Sum Of Our Days
by Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende’s latest memoir, The Sum of Our Days, is the literary equivalent of a ten-car pile-up on a major freeway, but, because of her gift of description, she draws the reader completely into her life and its many trials.
Boulder City Magazine®
|Written as one-sided conversation with her daughter Paula, who died in 1992 from porphyria, Allende invites the reader to join her as she explores her life as a writer, an expatriate (She is a first cousin once removed to Salvador Allende, the former President of Chile.), a wife, parent, step-parent and grandparent. Since her children and grandchildren have problems of monumental proportions, the narrative is riveting while at the same time producing a feeling of, “Thank heaven it’s not I.” She is still (and will be always) grieving Paula’s death, but she is also dealing with her husband Willie’s children - their drug and relationship problems. Her own son’s marriage is also a major source of concern.
Allende, the matriarch, spends her life trying to gather her tribe around her - urging them to come to California and live - if not with, then near - her and Willie. Considering the problems involved, her success rate in this venture is phenomenal.
Her family, which she calls “the tribe” and describes as “unhinged,” is a mixture of the shy and the aggressive, the rule followers and the bohemians, the tragic and the comic, the sacred and the profane. They are connected by history, love and, occasionally, genetics, and they are presided over by Isabel Allende and her husband, Willy, who protects her, adapts to her crochets and reminds her that, “ . . . resting on your laurels is the best way to crush them.”
Allende and The Tribe are an international bunch whose lives involve travel, adapting to cultural differences within the family, letting go of long-held prejudices and respecting one-another’s points of view. They are also funny, generous and loyal, so the tragedy of one becomes the tragedy of all.
Although the whole book is fascinating, this reader was hooked completely on page three where Allende describes the smell of morning coffee as: Aromatherapy.
If you are interested in this book or would like to learn more, contact me at info@bouldercity magazine.com.
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