On What Day Does A Long Petal of the Sea Author, Isabel Allende Start All Her Books?

On What Day Does A Long Petal of the Sea Author, Isabel Allende Start All Her Books?

Briefly tell us about your book. 

A Long Petal of the Sea is the story of  some Spaniards who fled from the fascist army of Franco in January of 1939, at the end of the Civil War. Half a million people walked to the border of France seeking asylum. The Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, convinced his government to accept some refugees, went to France, raised money to buy an old cargo ship, the Winnipeg, conditioned it to transport 2.200 passengers, selected them and send them to his country, where they were received with open arms. My protagonists, Victor and Roser,  were among those refugees. They had a life in Chile for thirty years, until they were forced t go into exile again. It’s a story of love, war, displacement and resilience.

What inspired the idea behind this book? 

In 1976, when I was living in exile in Venezuela, after the military coup of 1973 in Chile, I met Victor Pey. He had been one of the passengers of the Winnipeg and was living his second exile. He told me his story, which I carried with me for forty years, until I felt the urgent need to tell it, probably because the theme of displaced people is so relevant today. There are more than seventy million refugees in the world, mostly women and children.

What was the research process like for the book? 

I have written historical fiction before and I have some experience doing research. In the case of A Long Petal of the Sea, the research was easy because it’s relatively recent history. There are still people alive whose parents – and sometimes themselves –  lived through the Civil War in Spain. There’s a lot of information, books, documentaries, photography and personal testimonies. I also was in touch with my friend Victor Pey, who gave me the details that would have been almost impossible to find elsewhere. Unfortunately he died six days before I could send him the manuscript of the novel dedicated to him. He was 103 years old, totally lucid and still strong.

What are you hoping the reader will take away from reading your book? 

I am a fiction writer, I don’t try to deliver a message to my readers, my intention is simply to tell a story that is important to me. My last three books, The Japanese Love, In the Midst of Winter and a Long Petal of the Sea deal in some way with refugees and migrants. This is something I understand very well, not only because I have lived it, but also because I have a foundation that is working with refugees in the southern border of the United States and other places.

Does the creative process get easier for you with each book? 

The creative process is always scary. I start all my books on January 8th out of discipline and fear. If I didn’t have a starting day I would be procrastinating forever. Although I love the process of writing and often I have a story inside me, I know how difficult it is to get started, to find the narrative voice, the tone, the rhythm, not to mention develop the plot and the characters. But in the thirty something years that I have been writing I have acquired some self confidence. If I sit in front of my computer long enough, I can do it. I have never left a book unfinished.

Reviews

Take a Sneak Peek at Isabel Allende's A Long Petal of the Sea

Review | Extract

22 April 2020

Take a Sneak Peek at Isabel Allende's A Long Petal of the Sea

    In A Long Petal of the Sea, Isabel Allende Once Again Delivers an Unputdownable Family Saga

    Review | Our Review

    21 April 2020

    In A Long Petal of the Sea, Isabel Allende Once Again Delivers an Unputdownable Family Saga

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            Synopsis

            Victor Dalmau is a young doctor when he is caught up in the Spanish Civil War, a tragedy that leaves his life – and the fate of his country – forever changed. Together with his sister-in-law, the pianist Roser Bruguera, he is forced out of his beloved Barcelona and into exile.When opportunity to seek refuge in Chile arises, they take it, boarding a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda to the promised 'long petal of sea and wine and snow' over the seas. There, they find themselves enmeshed in a rich web of characters who come together in love and tragedy over the course of four generations, destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world.A masterful work of historical fiction about hope, exile and belonging, A Long Petal of the Sea is Isabel Allende at the height of her powers.
            Isabel Allende
            About the author

            Isabel Allende

            Isabel Allende was born in 1942 Lima, Peru. She grew up in Chile and now lives in California.She is the author of novels The House of the Spirits, Of Love And Shadows, Eva LunaThe Infinite Plan, Paula, Daughter of Fortune, Portrait in Sepia, My Invented Country, Zorro, Inés of My Soul, The Sum of Our Days and The Island Beneath the Sea.

            Books by Isabel Allende

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