A Long Petal of the Sea: Isabel Allende


Isabel Allende’s A Long Petal of the Sea is the masterful, at times protracted, saga of a family’s survival and tribulations from the Spanish Civil War through political unrest in Chile and beyond.

Thank you to Random House for sending me a free copy of this book!

Victor Dalmu is a young doctor serving in the civil war in Spain. When the war is over and Spain has been overthrown by Fascists, the Dalmu family escapes Spain, beginning a winding story of survival across the ocean into Chile. A Long Petal of the Sea is a historical fiction story of love, resilience, duty, and nuanced politics throughout the mid-1900s.

Content Warning

Please take caution while reading A Long Petal of the Sea if any of the following topics may trigger you:

  • Violence
  • Death / dying
  • Pregnancy / childbirth
  • Blood
  • Racism
  • Classism

My Thoughts

A Long Petal of the Sea is the first book I’ve read by Isabel Allende and the first true historical fiction book I’ve ever read! I enjoyed it more than I expected to, truthfully – but it was a bit long-winded at times. I know less than nothing about this time period – largely the late 1930s to 1980s – in Spain and Chile; it was fascinating to learn about the political unrest that took place in these countries from the viewpoint of a fictionalized family.

Allende’s writing was so precise and pragmatic that I felt at times like I was reading a non-fiction book. This left me confused at times, wondering whether I was taking a fictionalized retelling for fact; nevertheless, I was fascinated by the story and the time period.

Allende allows us to spend so much time with the characters that – even though the character development can tend to be surface-level – I felt very connected to them and understood their feelings and decisions. With so much going on in the world throughout this story, it could have been easy to lose the characters – we didn’t. The story, at its core, is all about the Dalmus – the impossible decisions they had to make, mistakes and regret, and their lives from the 1930s to, essentially, present day.

A Long Petal of the Sea is like nothing I’ve read before – wholly unique while not quite being immersive. History buffs are sure to enjoy this one, but I also think anyone interested in historical or contemporary fiction can also get something out of it.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts on A Long Petal of the Sea. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!

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