A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende translated by Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson

1. First lines. 2. Published 2020 Penguin Random House. Originally published 2019 in Spanish as “Largo pétalo de mar”. 3. Detail of the pattern on the cover of this edition. 4. Chile Map by Vemaps. 5. The signature of Pablo Neruda By Pablo Neruda [Public Domain] via Wikimedia 6. A group of children on board the SS Winnipeg by Agrupación Winnipeg. Changes: cropped and framed. [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia 7. Winnipeg by Agrupación. Changes: cropped and framed. [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia. 8. Pablo Neruda 1963. Author unknown. [Public Domain] via Wikimedia. N.B. The photo frame for the three photos is: Vintage, antique frame for photo album photographs [Public Domain] via Public Domain Vectors.
A fascinating part of Spanish history.

This story is based on the real-life migration of Spanish people after the Spanish Civil War in 1939. It follows the lives of fictional characters Victor Dalmau, an army doctor, and Roser Bruguera, a piano student. They embark on a journey with thousands of others to settle in Chile, where General Pinochet overthrows the government of President Salvador Allende in 1973, and creates more upheaval for the families.

“That summer day, August 4, 1939, remained forever engraved on the minds of Victor Dalmau, Roser Bruguera, and the other two thousand or more Spaniards sailing towards that long, narrow South American country that clung to the mountains so as not to topple into the seas. None of them knew anything about Chile. Years later, Neruda was to define it as a “long petal of sea and wine and snow … with a belt of black and white foam, but that would not have left the migrants any the wiser. On the map, it looked slender and remote.”

“The deep Chile of the fascists had always been there, beneath the surface, just waiting to emerge. It was the triumph of the arrogant Right, the defeat of the people who believed in that utopian revolution.”

“Carme had said on more than one occasion that if she died in Chile she wished to be buried in Spain, where her husband and son Guillem were laid to rest, but if she died in Spain she wanted to be buried in Chile, to be near the rest of her family. Why? Well just to cause trouble, she would say with a laugh. And yet it wasn’t simply a joke, it was the anguish of divided love, separation, of living and dying far from one’s loved ones.”

~Quotes from “A Long Petal of the Sea” by Isabel Allende
  • National Public Radio: “a gift of epic storytelling.”
  • Kirkus: “A trifle facile, but this decades-spanning drama is readable and engrossing throughout.”

Author: Isabel Allende

Historical note: Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet and Special Consul in Paris for Immigration, organized for Spanish refugees who were in internment camps in France after they fled the Spanish Civil War to be transported to Chile. The SS Winnipeg was the French vessel which carried the 2,200 refugees from France to Chile, arriving at Valparaiso on 3 September 1939.

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