Isabel Allende, having sold more than 75 million books globally, is one of the most widely read authors in the world. Her 25 remarkable books have been translated into over 40 languages and have been adapted into plays, ballets, radio programs, operas, and 2 feature films. Ms. Allende is a widely celebrated novelist, feminist, and philanthropist. She’s received 15 international honorary doctorates and her extensive list of awards and accolades includes the Presidential Medal of Freedom, presented by President Barack Obama in 2014, and the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters given by the National Book Foundation.
Her latest book, Violeta, was released in January 2022 to wide acclaim. It’s been featured on the New York Times bestseller list and is an editor’s pick on Amazon.
Are you ready to discover the work of Isabel Allende?
About Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende was born in 1942 in Peru where her father was working as the second secretary at the Chilean embassy in Lima. Ms. Allende spent her early years moving around the world, first back to Chile after her parents split and then to Bolivia and Beirut with her mother and stepfather, a Chilean diplomat. She returned to Chile where she married, had two children, and worked in various jobs, including for a time with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
In 1973, President Salvador Allende was overthrown in a military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. President Allende was Ms. Allende’s father’s cousin, and she found herself thrust into the middle of controversy. She and her family worked to help Chilean citizens escape until assassination attempts and death threats forced her to flee and live in exile in Venezuela. On January 8, 1981, while still exiled, Isabel received news that her 99-year-old grandfather was dying. She immediately began writing a letter to him that eventually became her first novel, The House of the Spirits. Since then, Ms. Allende begins all her books on January 8, a day she considers to be sacred.
Isabel’s books cannot be pigeonholed into a single genre. She’s written non-fiction memoirs, short stories, mysteries, and historical fiction. Several of her books feature elements of magical realism. She’s a storyteller at heart and uses whatever tools she has at the moment.
“[T]here is something magic in the storytelling. You tap into another world. The story becomes whole when you tap into the collective story, when other people’s stories become part of the writing, and you know that it’s not your story only. I have a feeling that I don’t invent anything. That, somehow, I discover things that are from another dimension. That they are already there, and my job is to find them and bring them onto the page.”Isabel Allende
In addition to writing, Ms. Allende works tirelessly supporting human rights causes. Following the death of her daughter Paula, she founded a charitable foundation committed to supporting and empowering women and girls around the world.
She currently lives in California and is a citizen of the United States. She writes all her fiction in her native Spanish. You can find both Spanish and English versions on our site by searching here.
Complete list of Isabel Allende novels in order
1. The House of the Spirits 1982
2. Of Love and Shadows 1984
3. Eva Luna 1986
4. The Infinite Plan 1991
5. Daughter of Fortune 1999
6. Portrait in Sepia 2001
7. City of the Beasts 2002
8. Kingdom of the Golden Dragon 2004
9. Forest of the Pygmies 2004
10. Zorro 2005
11. Ines of My Soul 2006
12. The Island Beneath the Sea 2009
13. Maya’s Notebook 2011
14. Ripper 2013
15. The Japanese Lover 2015
16. In the Midst of Winter 2017
17. A Long Petal of the Sea 2019
18. The Soul of a Woman 2020
19. Violeta 2022
20. The Wind Knows My Name 2023
Let’s take a closer look at just a few of the books by Isabel Allende.
The House of the Spirits, 1982
The House of the Spirits is universally thought to be Allende’s masterwork and is considered by many to be one of the most significant novels written in the 20th century. It’s included in many high school curricula around the world and has been adapted for various dramatic purposes including plays, film, and television.
The plot revolves around the Trueba family. Esteban, the patriarch, is a proud man focused firmly on his personal pursuit of political power. His wife, Clara, is a beautiful woman with a tender connection to the mystical world of spirits as well as psychic and telekinetic abilities. His rebellious daughter, Blanca, defies him and has a love affair that results in a granddaughter Alba. What follows is a story of revolution, love, revenge, and hope.
Paula: A Memoir, 1995
This is the true story of the events that surrounded the death of the author’s daughter Paula. This is a mother’s account of watching her daughter become sick and fall into a coma told as only Ms. Allende can tell it. Memories are shared, ancestors appear, and secrets are whispered. This is a powerful book that will linger with you for a long time.
Inés of My Soul, 2006
This is a brilliant work of historical fiction about the life of Inés Suárez, a real-life conquistadora and the first Spanish woman to reach the land that is now known as Chile. She and her lover, the war hero Pedro de Valdivia, wage war on the native Chileans and set out to build the new city of Santiago. Ms. Allende uses careful research and her own flawless storytelling skills to take readers back to the 15th century and the conquest of the mighty Inca empire.
The Japanese Lover, 2015
The Japanese Lover, as you might guess from the title, is a love story that spans multiple generations and multiple locations from San Francisco to Poland and between WWII and the present day. Young Polish immigrant Alma Belasco falls in love with Ichimei Fukuda, the son of a Japanese gardener. The attack on Pearl harbor and the events that follow separate these secret sweethearts until a series of serendipitous events reveals the constancy of their romance. This is a beautiful story filled with historical details and thought-provoking themes of identity and redemption.
In the Midst of Winter, 2017
What happens when three unforgettable characters—one an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, one from a Brazilian family with European roots, and one from Chile—are trapped together in a snowstorm in Brooklyn? In this case, a remarkable story emerges that connects political upheaval in Chile in the 1970s to violent gangs in Guatemala to a life that seems perfectly safe but contains a past that still needs to be reconciled. This is a book about hope – the hope that there’s always a summer even after the longest winters.
Discover Isabel Allende
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