Eva Luna

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

“My name is Eva, which means life,’ according to a book of names my mother consulted. I was born in the back room of a shadowy house, and grew up amidst ancient furniture, books in Latin, and human mummies, but none of these things made me melancholy, because I came into the world with a breath of the jungle in my memory.” The narrative voice here belongs to Eva Luna, and it is she--conceived illicitly in a South American jungle--who guides the reader through the picaresque story of her life. Like her mother Consuelo, she is born poor and orphaned young. Yet, unlike her mother, Eva rises to a position of relative power by the novel’s end.

Besides its wealth of poetically rendered detail and thoroughly believable characters, this novel is astoundingly rich in tenderness and insight, drama and humor, satire and compassion, history and myth. Eva is--like Allende--a seemingly natural and naturally inventive storyteller. Indeed, outdoing her rum-addled godmother, who creates her own Catholic saints, Eva creates BOLERO, a mirror image of EVA LUNA, for “The National Television.” What she offers her television-viewing audience toward the novel’s end is what Allende has already given her readers: that is, among other things, “clashes of snakebitten Indians, embalmers in wheelchairs, teachers hanged by their students, Ministers of State defecating in the bishops’ plush chairs, and other atrocities that ... defied all laws of the commercial television romance.” Thanks must go to Allende for writing an excellent work of literature, and for thereby defying with EVA LUNA all the prevailing laws of America’s commercial publishing industry.


Allende, Isabel. “An Interview with Isabel Allende.” Interview by...

(The entire section is 723 words.)