With none of the thick variety of The House of the Spirits (1985), only sharing that better book’s political zeal, Allende returns with a damp-Kleenex papier-mâché construction that pits a conventionally unlikely love duo against the fierce bloodthirstiness of an unnamed Latin American Society (Argentina, Chile, take your pick).
Irene Beltran is a journalist for a popular but nervy urban magazine, and her upbringing in the society of the rich and indolent leaves her little ready for what dawns on her apropos the political situation in her land. What’s worse, she’s engaged to a straight-arrow military man; but when she’s paired on assignment with a leftist journalist, Francisco Leal, in investigating the disappearance and murder of a teenaged girl, the light is seen – and fiancé and old habits of thinking are whisked away. She and Francisco fall in love (“…he had lived until then only for this miraculous night when he would plunge forever into the depths of intimacy with this woman, Irene, honey and shadow, Irene, peach, sea foam, the seashell of your ears, the perfume of your throat, the doves of your hands…” – the nausea of this prose), and seem together to provide the fulcrum by which the whole rotted social fabric is tipped over and destroyed.
Completely unbelievable, lacking any artfulness.