Book Review: Eva Luna by Isabel Allende

Eva Luna by Isabel Allende is a book I only learned about this year, but I’m do glad that I did. Surprisingly, the first time I’ve ever heard of this book was from the Rory Gilmore challenge. Isabel Allende has appeared in Jane The Virgin, a show I love, but I somehow either missed writing down her name, or I was too engrossed with what Jane and Rogelio were doing to notice her cameo. Nevertheless, I’m extremely happy I took the time to research Allende, and purchase this book.

Eva Luna centres around a character of the same name, who tells her story throughout the novel. It begins with her ethnically ambiguous mother appearing to missionaries, to her unexpected conception, and life as a assistant to a professor. Eva meets a lot of characters along her journey that all change her life, some for the better and some for the worse. She works for different patrons, becomes a daughter to a childless couple, starts writing for a telenovela, and eventually helps in a plan constructed by guerillas. Eva’s life is anything but ordinary and shows just how remarkable she is. However, one of the best things that Eva Luna does, is her storytelling.

The whole novel is written as a frame narrative, consisting of many stories within other stories. Eva Luna is telling her story while telling multiple different stories and side plots simultaneously. Not only does she tell her story, but she tells the stories of other characters, specifically Rolf Carlé, an immigrant from war-torn Europe to South America. She weaves the stories of her life and others and shows how they all intersect to create one larger story. It was hard to put down this book because of this. There was never a dull moment in this novel because there was something constantly happening. Even when Eva was finished telling her side of the story, she starts talking about someone else like her abuela, Riad, Rolf, Mimí, etc. Allende weaves a intricate tapestry where every moment and detail is important to the overall story. Every character introduced has a stake in this story, and how it finishes, all interconnected within magical realism.

If you’re not familiar with magical realism, it’s a work of fiction that takes place in a realistic world, but elements of the fantastical, and magic, appear throughout. And that’s completely apparent in Eva Luna. Lots of strange things happen in the novel, but aren’t completely explained. For example, Eva Luna’s mother, Consuelo, is a pale faced, red haired girl found at the docks of a South American country. How did she get there? Who are her parents? This is never explained, nor does it necessarily need to be. Another great example of this is the invention of Universal Matter. It’s a strange substance that can basically replicate the structure and feeling of anything it’s shaped into. This is a highly important material in the novel, especially near the ending. What’s it made of? Who knows. But it’s really interesting to see how it works in the confines of the novel, and how it helps the climax of the novel come to fruition.

Eva Luna by Isabel Allende is an amazing novel. I couldn’t put it down while I was reading it, and I just found every character so well developed and interesting. Although the novel could be strange at times, like how Eva receives a stuffed puma, it all just works so well in the world Allende created. If you are looking to read more magical realism, or read more Latinx authors, I would highly recommend this book. It’s a story about stories, and the overall love of stories in general. It’s really unlike any book I’ve ever read, and I can’t wait to read more of her work!

Have you read any of Isabel Allende’s work? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading friends!