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In her first nonfiction work, Allende (The Infinite Plan, 1993, etc.) produces a beautiful and deeply personal account of the process of grieving and the power of stories. This volume was written over a one-year period during which her 28-year-old daughter lay in a coma, struck down by a mysterious illness. The book's narrative shifts back and forth from a detailed, magical description of Chilean-born Allende's life to a somewhat numbing account of Paula's deteriorating condition. Certain figures from Allende's past are presented as the inspirations for her novels' characters as she documents her family life, a surreal three years spent in Lebanon, her first marriage, and the early years of her career, writing advice columns and horoscopes. Despite a tendency to revel in sentimentality, this is an engagingly readable and revealing book. It is divided into two sections by the simultaneous description of two pivotal events within the entwined narratives: Paula's transfer from a Spanish hospital to a home in San Francisco, where she will eventually die, and the author's account of the 1973 military overthrow of Chile's first socialist president, her great-uncle, Salvador Allende. Paula's move allows her to pass away surrounded by a loving family who eventually learns to accept tragedy and celebrate life. The military coup plunges Chile into a reign of terror marked by violent political repression, torture, and exile. Allende is forced to flee her country and, in an effort to come to terms with her life and the disintegrating world around her, she discovers her extraordinary talents as a novelist. Ultimately, Paula is a book about writing, a personal confession of the redemptive power of "the ineradicable vice of telling stories" in a world marked by injustice—both political and personal. A fascinating window into the creative world of Allende, who, with dignity and courage, tells her life's story as reflected through the tragic death of her daughter.

Pub Date: May 2, 1995

ISBN: 0-06-017253-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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