People I love

Friday, 26 April 2013

How "Family" colours our lives.

This month, for ARC, I am reviewing "A Portrait in Sepia" by Isabel Allende
I was a bit nervous starting this book, as it was a gift from a dear friend who thought it sounded like the kind of book I would enjoy. What if I didn't like it? How would I word the review without offending someone I love?
It is an historical novel set between 1862 and 1910, and is written as a memoir of Aurora Del Valle, an independent young women living in Chile.
The book is written in three parts...
Part 1 covers the years before her birth, and is written in quite a confused manner(for which Aurora apologizes at the beginning). I struggled with this section until I realised that the format was more that of the kind of conversation you overhear at a large family gathering, where everyone is adding to the stories, no one person ever having all the pertinent information. At certain points the story get's passed to Aunty so-and-so and then to uncle whatsit and so on. We get details and information through the eyes of each character, some only brief mentions, others seeming much more relevant.  I could see how this section would be quite frustrating for some, but being a keen genealogist it is how I see my ancestral past, little snippets and delicacies of information, that later prove a clue to the next important link.

Part 2 covers Aurora's childhood and events in the world that effect her upbringing. The story again jumps in and out of other people's lives, but in a more organized way, as more information is readily available through her own observations.

Part 3 is written in what I consider a more conventional style and pulls all the facts and loose ends together beautifully.

Underlying the "memoir" is a fabulous "shout out" to the strength and character of the women of Chile during the building of a great nation. It is not coloured by feminism, but instead shows us the formidable patience of women working "behind the scenes" in the shadow of their husbands. It is also filled with the most wonderful stories of love and devotion (and several beautifully written scenes of a sexual nature). This is in no way a classic "Mills and Boons" type romantic novel...the emotions evoked are much deeper(I cried 4 times).

All in all I have to thank Magaly for gifting me this book....I found so many moments within it's pages that reflected things in my own life, not least my desire to keep memories alive for my children and their children, and their children's children. And I hope to live in their memories as vividly as Aurora's amazing ancestors are now engraved in mine.

My art piece is a 20"x20" stretch canvas, painted in the style of a Victorian family portrait with muted and faded colours. Battered and faded, it shows tantalising glimpses of Aurora's history :D

Enjoy :D XXX



  1. I do love Isabel Allende's writing and always get sucked right in to the depths of the story. Glad you liked it. What a lovely gift. Your 'Victorian" type portrait is do well done - the 'stiff' poses of the times. Love the colours you have chosen. xoDonna

  2. Not sure about the book, but I did like your take on it. Your painting puzzled me(not a normal thing for me in your art work) I can understand it, I just preferred it before the final painting of the Victorian woman (my own preference you understand) The layers of history covered by her. Although still a beautiful piece Gina. Happy ARC Dxx

    1. That's ok Dawn, I like to try something different with each book, and this lady wouldn't let me "not" show how she was so important to the story :D

  3. I did prefer before it before the addition, too. But, of course, it's your painting and your emotions. :)

  4. Wow Gina the art is a good size to work on, interesting book not sure if it's one I would read mind!

  5. Your review was a pleasure to read and your artwork so special. I like both versions of your canvas and can understand why the purple lady insisted to be shown.

    Janet xx

  6. Gina, I applaud you! Your art is so moving! It truly shows the book!

  7. Like in life, we should never begin a book with fear: we'll find good things, and not so good ones, and some straight down crappy but we'll always find something to remember. And that is what matters (at least to me) when I read a story. You'd never hurt my feelings if you don't like something I give you. Heck, I've given myself more than three things that have inspired me to say, "What was I thinking!?" and I still adore me ;-D

    Wait until I send you The House of the Spirits also by Allende. I'm all giddy now! lol

  8. It sounds like a hard book to read. I would have probably given up at part 1. :) But your art is amazing as always.

  9. Your art is so inspiring! I want to do more with layers, learn about what layers can be and it's so cool to see what you did! ♥
    I'm always afraid to paint over something that I will blur/smear out the bottom layer...
    I'm not sure if I would like this book, just because my life is a bit crazy at the moment and it's hard to really dive into a story. I will put Isabel on my to read-list. I don't think I ever read one of her books!

  10. Thank you for such a thorough review...sounds like a book I may well read but only when I'm fully compos mentis....I struggle some days ...and Mills and Boon are all I can cope with...light relief in other words!
    Your art work is stunning...I love how you've captured the layers of her ancestry.
    Hugs xx

  11. Aloha Gina...your canvas certainly evokes emotion...beautiful.
    Wonderful review of "A Portrait in Sepia"...

  12. I've never read Allende, but will surely follow her up now. Your review is so clear and gives a good account in the limited space we have. I liked following the stages of your artwork through as the review progressed, matchingbthe stages. And the finished result is so impressive, with all that history built in to it. When YOU look at it you can read the hidden tales there even though others can't just like knowing aboutbyour own ancestry which others can't see in you

  13. I read how you struggled with the book until you found the right rhythm. And then I could tell it all came together for you. I was super impressed with the canvas you created, too. Lots of layers proved the thoughtful way you perceived this book. It's difficult for me to hide part of a background I especially like, so I was delighted to see you didn't share that same difficulty.

    I apologize for taking so long to get here, because you are so good about visiting me. As for the book I reviewed this month, it does NOT belong to me. I borrowed it from a friend's library. If it had been mine, I would have altered it in a heartbeat!! Thanks for the suggestion, regardless.

  14. Stunnning piece of art Gina... sigh.. I am in awe of your art these days. The book sounds very deep, must have been to make you cry.

  15. Wonderful art work and your review makes the book sound like a must read.
    Jen x

  16. Great and telling piece of art certainly follows the story you outlined. Don't know if it's my kind of book, though...
    thanks for the complete and honest review.

  17. I am glad that the book moved you so - and that you didn't have to write a bad review and upset your friend :) love seeing how your artwork progressed and I love the end result and all the in between stages

  18. Like the book your artwork built up to a finished piece that came together to tell the whole story. Life is never black and white, it has many layers that can sometimes seem very confusing. I really enjoyed reading your review and am in awe of your finished piece of art.

  19. I have read two books by Allende and I think they are brilliant. I love the way you describe this book and I will definitely read it. I also love your beautiful, reflective art work. I have just joined ARC and I have really enjoyed yours and the other reviews. Thank you for sharing your reading and your art. xxx

  20. Not my sort of book I think but glad you enjoyed it. Your artwork is fabulous! x

  21. I love the layers and depth in your artwork Gina! Fabulous review. I love Isabel Allende, but I have not read, The Portrait in Sepia. This is certainly one I will be looking to add to my library.