Eva Luna Summary

Eva Luna is a novel by Isabel Allende about a girl named Eva who has a gift for storytelling.

  • Eva is forced to work for a variety of employers by her cruel godmother.
  • After a political uprising, Eva is rescued by Riad Halabí. Riad's wife kills herself after an affair ends badly. Eva is briefly suspected of murder.
  • Eva becomes the mistress of a guerrilla leader. She starts writing television scripts, and gradually becomes known for her storytelling.
  • Eva meets Rolf, who takes her to the paradise of La Colonia. She gives the reader the option of deciding whether this is a happy ending.


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Last Updated on July 2, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 763

Eva Luna is the story of a poor girl with a great gift for storytelling who, because of her indomitable spirit, manages to survive a perilous youth and become a successful television scriptwriter. The title character of the novel is also the narrator. Even when Eva herself could not have witnessed what she describes, the implication is that she is faithfully reporting what she has been told by those who were present and thus, in a sense, making those events a part of her own narrative. Since all the people mentioned affect Eva’s own history, these stories are an essential part of her life.

The book begins with Eva’s birth, the product of the sole sexual encounter of her parents. Her mother, Consuelo, a servant of unknown parentage, had decided to console an Indian gardener who was presumed to be dying from snakebite. When he recovered and went back to the jungle, he left Consuelo pregnant. Even though she died when Eva was only six years old, Consuelo remained an important part of her life, primarily because she told her such fascinating stories.

Allende then moves back in time to introduce Rolf Carlé, the son of Lukas Carlé, an Austrian schoolmaster. Rolf was a baby when his father went to war; during his father’s absence, Rolf has made him into a hero. Unfortunately, when Lukas returns, he is so tyrannical that by comparison the Russian occupation troops seem angelic.

Although Allende does not bring Eva and Rolf together until almost the end of her novel, she continues to trace his adventures as well as hers. For example, in one chapter Eva tells about her mother’s death, her employment in a household where only the cook, Elvira, treats her with kindness, and her meeting with a street boy, Huberto Naranjo, who becomes her protector. In the next, she describes Rolf’s reaction when his father is murdered by his students: a feeling of guilt by association so consuming that he cannot eat and, as a result, is shipped off to kindly relatives in South America. As Eva points out, when Rolf arrives in the German settlement of La Colonia, he is not far from the place where she is growing up.

Deposited with first one employer and then another by the mad mulatto godmother who rules her life, Eva never feels secure. Nevertheless, she occasionally does exhibit her spirit. On one memorable occasion, because she is disgusted with the cabinet minister who spends every day on an ornate chamberpot that she must empty, she deliberately pours the contents over his head. Fleeing from his wrath, Eva finds her old friend Huberto, who places her in the care of a famous madam, La Señora, and her best friend, Melesio, who goes by Mimí when performing as a singer, dressed in women’s clothes. Eva’s life with these two of society’s outcasts is supremely happy.

Unfortunately, a political uprising brings the idyll to an end. This time, Eva is rescued by Riad Halabí, called “the Turk” by the people of Agua Santa, the isolated village where he keeps a shop. A man so compassionate that he covers his unsightly harelip with a handkerchief for fear of offending his companions, Riad Halabí has a wife, Zulema, who cannot endure him. During one of Riad’s absences, Eva is horrified when Zulema seduces Riad’s young cousin Kamel. After Kamel realizes what he has done and runs away, the lovesick Zulema kills herself. Because she was the one to find the body, Eva is arrested, and though she is finally cleared and released, she is forced to leave the village and Riad, even though he is now as much in love with her as she is with him.

In the final section of Eva Luna, the lives of Eva, Mimí, Huberto, and Rolf become intertwined. Believing herself to be in love with Huberto, who is now a guerrilla leader called Comandante Rogelio, Eva becomes his mistress. Meanwhile, with Mimí’s encouragement, she begins writing and selling scripts for television serials that become so popular that the authorities attempt to influence their content. In the guerrilla camp, Eva meets Rolf, now a documentary filmmaker. When Eva is told that she is in danger from the authorities, Rolf takes her to La Colonia. In that Edenic setting, Eva and Rolf discover that they have at last found the mates they have sought for so long. In time, Eva says, their love eventually wore out, or, if one prefers another ending, it lasted forever.

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