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The Sum of Our Days

A brilliant memoir from the celebrated Chilean novelist on friends, family and life in California, her adopted home.
The Sum of Our Days
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A brilliant memoir from the celebrated Chilean novelist on friends, family and life in California, her adopted home. Isabel Allende has sold more than 50 million copies of her books worldwide. The most beloved and successful of her books, 'The House of the Spirits', was based on her Chilean childhood, and her autobiographical works include the deeply moving 'Paula' - a family history written at the bedside of her daughter while she lay in a coma - and the fascinating 'My Invented Country', which explored the events of her native Chile where she lived until Pinochet's military coup. Now, in 'The Sum of the Days', we have Isabel describe in an exceptionally vivid, human and deeply personal way her life in California where she has lived for more than 25 years. The first page picks up from where Paula ends - her daughter never did wake up from her coma and died in 1992 - when Allende recounts spreading Paula's ashes in her favourite part of the woods by their home. It is fair to say that Isabel has never recovered from losing her daughter but has managed to survive by keeping her husband, son, grandchildren as well as close friends - kindred spirits - central to her life.
'The Sum of the Days', based on Allende's own journals and daily correspondence with her mother in Chile, reveals the author to be a dazzling, generous, warm and hysterically funny matriarch within her swirl of family and friends.
Isabel Allende was born in 1942, and is the niece of Salvador Allende, who went on to become famous as the elected President of Chile deposed in a CIA-backed coup. Her first novel for adults, 'The House of the Spirits', was published in Spanish in 1982, beginning life as a letter to her dying grandfather. It was an international sensation, and ever since all her books have been acclaimed and adored in numberless translations worldwide.
'No amount of acrobatics can out do the absolute core of Allende's talent: her gift for writing. She can bring even the most inert subjects to life, breathing vitality into them through her prose; if only books were people, her beloved daughter Paula would once again be alive and well.' The Times 'The reader is swept along by the energy of her prose, her brilliance as a story-teller, and the sheer force and warmth of personality.' Michael Jacobs, Independent 'If she wrote Paula as a redemptive exercise in grieving, "The Sum of Our Days" is written in the spirit of thanksgiving. Allende looks on with powerless awe as her grandchildren grow up and out of her control. As ever, her writing glows with generosity and affection for all those around her.' Sunday Telegraph 'Full of life and candid self-revelation "The Sum of Our Days" is a fine vivacious and inspiring memoir about moving on from tragedy and making life bright again.' Melissa Katsoulis, FT 'Positively bursting with love, hilarity and crazy good times: sex, drugs and lesbian Buddhist monks abound in this rollicking tale of the Allende clan's life in their Californian castle, and you'll feel a hundred times richer for reading.' Sunday Telegraph, 'Summer Reading' 'Though Allende has had to learn to "manage sadness", to make it her "ally", the book's tone is hopeful, and the unexpectedness and emotional warmth that characterise her early fiction shine through. It's a generous, vibrant family album, testament to her passion for storytelling, and for life.' Sunday Business Post 'The Sum of Our Days convinces throughout, an elegant reminder of how life influences art, and art makes sense of life.' Vanessa Curtis, Scotland on Sunday 'Writing as though her daughter (whose illness and death were the subject of her acclaimed memoir 'Paula'), she relates the melodramatic upheavals that have rocked her extended 'tribe'. an unflinchingly honest appraisal of her own fault, her genuine warmth and her storyteller's flair, which adds to the enjoyable over-the-top quality of a South American soap opera to her account.' Metro 'It is witty and warm-hearted, for all the family woes. Allende is so intelligent and entertaining that she can spin beguiling material out of anything, from her grand-daughter's squint to the skunk that fell in the Jacuzzi. Even her divorce counselling sounds charming. She is eloquent on the subject of grief for Paula, and funny about lesser travails.' Miranda France, Daily Telegraph 'Manages in her third volume of memoir to make her own domestic problems seem quite ordinary, yet at the same time lifts them to the uniquely novelistic. Allende's storytelling powers mean this has all the verve of a good soap opera and the reader quickly feels part of the family.' Stephanie Merritt, Observer 'She has a personality so strong it rushes off the page, a remarkable presence even in translation. Its like a long, lovely letter from a friend. Be careful where you open and sample this book, because some of it is marvellous.' Scotsman 'It's a generous, vibrant family album, testament to her passion for storytelling, and for life.' Sunday Business Post
Isabel Allende
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date
Place of Publication
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
Translated from
Short Title
San Rafael, CA, US
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