20) The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
This is the last of the four books that were lent to me by laura_russell. It was also the longest and the one with the worst typography (I swear the font changes on a couple of pages). I enjoyed it, but it put me in mind of a book I read when I was little; Heidi by Johanna Spyri. My mother gave it to me and told me that I should read it; I got to about the halfway mark before I sought her out and earnestly asked her, “Mummy, when does the adventure start?” That’s not to say it’s a bad book, because it isn’t; I read it all the way to the end and I didn’t get bored enough or tired enough of it to put it down at any point, and I read most of it today which probably means it doesn’t get grating overly quickly. However, I’m having real trouble thinking of anything I want to say about it that needs to go under an LJ cut, which is a bit worrying since I read most of it today and it’s still pretty fresh in my mind.
There are fantastical elements to the novel, which I wasn’t expecting, and which my friend – who is not a great sf/fantasy fan – calls ‘magical realism’. The amount of racial stereotyping that pervades the book made me a little uncomfortable; I have no idea if the ideas and words expressed were okay back when it was written, in the mid-eighties, but I didn’t really feel their inclusion was merited. The book was constructed in such a way that things mentioned at the start of the novel come back and affect the end of the novel, but none of these things felt like a twist, which I’m assuming was intentional and not just a sign of the worst twists ever.
All in all, this book’s alright. Wouldn’t recommend it, probably, but you could do worse.