Of Love and Shadows

by Isabel Allende

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How does the book Of Love and Shadows compare to Isabel Allende's life experiences?

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There are many similarities between author Isabel Allende's life experiences and the events she depicts in her book Of Love and Shadows. In this response, I will touch on a few key examples that demonstrate these parallels.

Isabel Allende and the Personal Costs of Political Violence in Chile

The novel Of Love and Shadows depicts the horrors of political violence, including an assassination that plays an important role in the plot. Unfortunately, this portrayal of political violence and how it can devastate a family certainly has connections to the author's own life experiences. Allende was forced to leave Chile after her uncle, the socialist Chilean president Salvador Allende, was assassinated. After this brutal murder, she feared for her own life and the lives of her husband and children.

Isabel Allende's Former Career as a Journalist

Another connection between Isabel Allende's life and the plot of her novel Of Love and Shadows is the profession of the main character, Irene Beltrán. Irene works as a reporter. Her job leads her to make dangerous discoveries relating to the nation's death squads. In her own life, Allende had established a successful career as a journalist while living in Chile. However, once she moved to Venezuela, she found it difficult to fund her journalistic work.

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When looking at the plot of the novel and Allende’s life in Chile during the military coup led by Pinochet in 1973, readers can draw definite parallels between Isabel Allende and Irene. Both Irene and Isabel are (or were) journalists during this turbulent time in Chilean history. Also, Irene comes from an affluent family, but her mother is left impoverished after her father leaves. Similar to Irene, Isabel Allende comes from an affluent family. Isabel’s father was a diplomat and left her mother when Isabel was just two years old. Alone and without any money, Isabel’s mother returned to Chile to live with her parents. Lastly, both Irene and Isabel are (or were) forced to flee Chile for fear of being imprisoned or killed by the Pinochet regime because their work supported the opposition.

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