THE INFINITE PLAN by Isabel Allende

THE INFINITE PLAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The first North America-set novel by Allende (The Stories of Eva Luna, 1991, etc.) begins with a beguiling freshness that rapidly degenerates into boring leftist commentary-cum-melodrama-- in a plot that goes on and on until it mercifully fizzles out in platitudes. Long-troubled Gregory Reeves, who's never been able to regain the security of his early childhood (cutely recalled now in the form of a confession to a novelist), is the son of Charles Reeves, the ``Doctor of Sciences,'' who travels around the country in a brightly decorated truck--along with wife Nora, a Jewish refugee; helper Olga, a Russian; daughter Julia and son Gregory--revealing the secret of life: The Infinite Plan he's discovered. This idyll ends when Charles becomes ill, and the family moves into the L.A. barrio home of Pedro Morales, a Chicano follower of ``The Plan.'' When the father recovers, they move to a run-down cottage--but for the rest of Gregory's life, the Morales family, especially daughter Carmen, will be an anchor for Gregory. Reality soon begins ``irreparably to deteriorate,'' and though a friendly librarian leaves him money to go to Berkeley, ambitious and hard-working Gregory is unhappy. He graduates from law school; serves in Vietnam; moves to San Francisco; makes two disastrous marriages; fathers two troubled children; and earns and loses a great deal of money. Meanwhile, the decades whirl by as ``revolution in the streets [is] replaced by the plague of conformism'' and characters in equally extravagant subplots finally enjoy their own happy endings. Only Gregory has to wait for the novelist to save him, assuring Gregory ``that everyone carries a plan inside, but it's a faded map that's hard to read and that's why we wander round so and sometimes get lost.'' Potentially original characters, denied their own voices as the writer does the telling, are ultimately overwhelmed by sentimental and overwrought gush. (First printing of 100,000)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0060924985
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993




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