A Long Petal of the Sea: A Novel

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - From the author of The House of the Spirits, this epic novel spanning decades and crossing continents follows two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a place to call home.

"One of the most richly imagined portrayals of the Spanish Civil War to date, and one of the strongest and most affecting works in [Isabel Allende's] long career."--The New York Times Book Review

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Esquire - Good Housekeeping - Parade

In the late 1930s, civil war grips Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them desires.

Together with two thousand other refugees, Roser and Victor embark on the SS Winnipeg, a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda, to Chile: "the long petal of sea and wine and snow." As unlikely partners, the couple embraces exile as the rest of Europe erupts in world war. Starting over on a new continent, they face trial after trial, but they will also find joy as they patiently await the day when they might go home. Through it all, their hope of returning to Spain keeps them going. Destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world, Roser and Victor will find that home might have been closer than they thought all along.

A masterful work of historical fiction about hope, exile, and belonging, A Long Petal of the Sea shows Isabel Allende at the height of her powers.

Praise for A Long Petal of the Sea

"Both an intimate look at the relationship between one man and one woman and an epic story of love, war, family, and the search for home, this gorgeous novel, like all the best novels, transports the reader to another time and place, and also sheds light on the way we live now."--J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Saints for All Occasions

"This is a novel not just for those of us who have been Allende fans for decades, but also for those who are brand-new to her work: What a joy it must be to come upon Allende for the first time. She knows that all stories are love stories, and the greatest love stories are told by time."--Colum McCann, National Book Award-winning author of Let the Great World Spin
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368 pages

Average rating: 7.49




Community Reviews

April C.
Mar 14, 2024
10/10 stars
Extremely interesting and engaging historical novel. Isabel Allende is a wonderful writer and brings the history alive with her characters. I learned a lot. The story provides quite a bit. of detail and so I suggest planning some breaks from reading if you're on a book club schedule.
Nov 22, 2023
4/10 stars
Found it difficult to follow along. It was not a “can’t put it down” book. I appreciate the historical information, it was a period in history that I b really knew nothing about, but if someone asked me if they should read it…I would say no.
Oct 09, 2023
8/10 stars
When I first started this book, I was not sure how the disparate storylines were going to connect, but they all came together in unexpected ways throughout the book. Once I read more about Allende's writing process this made more sense to me as well. Her research and personal knowledge of the Spanish Civil War, the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, and life in exile made for an illuminating read.
Aug 28, 2023
8/10 stars
Content warning for war, genocide, state-sponsored violence, abuse, death, graphic medical descriptions, and related topics. I really liked this novel. I don't think that the Spanish Civil War is talked about very often, and Allende's novel fills in an important piece of history. I liked the characters in this novel, but there were a lot of them. The large cast didn't detract from the story for me, but I thought some got more attention that they ...read more
Aug 19, 2022
10/10 stars
Beautiful historic novel that transmits so well the idiosyncrasies of some nationalities. It keeps you engaged and captured my attention the whole time.

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