Inés of my soul

by Isabel Allende

Other authorsMargaret Sayers Peden (Translator)
Paperback, 2006





New York : HarperCollins, c2006.


Born into a poor family Spanish family in the sixteenth century, Ins leaves Spain for the New World to find her missing husband. There she discovers that he's been killed and soon begins a love affair with Pedro de Valdivia, a war hero and field marshall to Francisco Pizarro. Together Ins and Pedro build the new city of Santiago and wage a bloody, ruthless war against the native Chileans.

Media reviews

Allende peppers Inés’ bio with characteristically fragrant details emotional fire-storms, lush foliage, aphrodisiac potions, and many “blazing whirlwinds” of lovemaking that turn a truly extraordinary life story into a forgettable, easy-reading romp.
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“Inés is wholly a woman of her day, and Allende does not turn away from the historical record, which has her decapitating indigenous prisoners and hurling their heads over a fortress wall to terrorize their peers as well as saving lives as a gentle-handed healer.” “Despite its graphic violence, “Ines,” like all of Allende’s novels, drips with color and sensuality. The author spent four years researching the era, incorporating knowledge not just about the history of Chile during the subjugation of its native people by the courageous and cruel Spanish, but such vital details as the kinds of food emigrants ate on the long ocean voyage and their manner of dress.The research pays off in finely detailed scenes.”

User reviews

LibraryThing member riofriotex
This is a first-person fictionalized account of the life of little-known Ines de Suarez, c. 1507-1580, conquistadora and gobernadora of Chile along with her lover, Pedro de Valdivia (originally field marshal to Perus' conquistador Francisco Pizarro), and later with her husband, Rodrigo de Quiroga.

Isabel Allende, born in Peru but raised in Chile, writes as though she is Ines telling the story of her life, at age 70 and shortly before her death, to her adopted daughter Isabel. Allende brings to life Ines' adventurous voyage to the New World, the harrowing trip from Peru to what will become Chile, and her part in its settlement and the battles with the natives. At times the descriptions of the latter scenes become tedious, but it's offset by the detailed research into the life of the heroine and the narrative style that makes her real.

Veteran New York actress Blair Brown does an excellent job reading the book, with a perfect Spanish accent and pronunciations. Spanish guitar interludes at the beginning and end of each disc add to the atmosphere. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member MissTeacher
Ines is so alluring, provocative, powerful, masterful and wise, yet fortune fated her to never have children. If Senora Suarez could found Chile with such grace, just imagine what women of her bloodline could accomplish in the modern age. She loves passionately yet wisely, and though she carried no bitterness toward de Valdivia towards the end, his fall was inevitable and justified. I wish I could have learned more of the sensible love between her and Rodrigo, after the fevered love of her younger days. Definitely a book for history-lovers and -haters alike!… (more)
LibraryThing member lauralkeet
This work of historical fiction tells the story of the Spaniards' conquest of Chile in the mid-1500s. Allende attempts to bring a unique perspective to this time period by telling the story in a woman's voice. Ines Suarez left Spain for South America in search of her lover, and ended up the life partner of Pedro de Valdivia, a conquistador responsible for the "discovery" of Chile and suppression of the native people.

I enjoyed Allende's previous novels, including House of the Spirits and Daughter of Fortune. Allende's writing can be positively magical. Unfortunately, this book does not live up to Allende's potential. I never fully identified -- or even liked -- the characters and couldn't get excited about the violence wrought against native people in the pursuit of gold and riches for the white man.
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LibraryThing member beatrizmaturana
In this book Isabel Allende sets upon the difficult task of creating a narrative that strings together the pieces of history and distant records from the 1530’s conquest of Chile. The book is written in first person giving a voice to Inés de Suárez, a genuine female ‘conquistador’. Allende brings to us fleshed out characters who, through Inés de Suárez, are introduced to us as if we were part of an intimate conversation—Inés is in this way trusting her story to us. This book presents a superb insight on those gruesome and treacherous wars of conquest.

In her narration of the events, Allende has meticulously played with that fine line that separates her voice as the author and the voice of Inés de Suárez. That is not an easy task, particularly because Inés de Suárez, as a conquistador is herself part and occasionally the perpetrator of violent acts to save her life and the lives of those living in the recently established settlement, later known as “Santiago de la Nueva Extremadura”, or today, simply Santiago, the capital of Chile. Allende places herself in Inés’ shoes with an extraordinary ability that allows to suspend judgment (although sporadically we hear the author through Inés regrets) in order to be respectful of Inés de Suárez version of history—Inés’ own voice.

Independently of our contemporary view of the history of the conquest, Inés de Suárez—as a woman of her time caught in an unusual situation—is not repentant, on the contrary, she is proud of her achievements and although somehow repulsed by violence, she is not completely condemning of it, nor of the atrocious behaviour of men towards women in general and indigenous women in particular.

Inés’ story adds an important dimension to our knowledge of the events—a Spaniard female version of history. While history has passed little and relatively unsavoury facts of the life of Inés de Suárez, history on the other hand, has been benevolent enough and much less judgmental of the character of Diego de Almagro, Francisco de Aguirre and Pedro de Valdivia among many others. This I believe is the important story within the story of this book.

The book manages to depict with meticulous detail a new world of the ‘promised land’ as seen by the colonisers. The descriptions of the geography, the pristine mountains, air and rivers, the settlement and birth of a new city, together with the early poverty of the colonisers, their abuses of the indigenous people and intrigue among the colonisers themselves, are conveyed with captivating realism.

Because of my general knowledge of Chilean history, I know that at least ninety percent of the names cited in this book are of real people who played their part in the history of Chile. For instance, among the indigenous people, Michimalonko, Lautaro (Felipe), Vitacura (one of Santiago’s municipalities is named after him), the Spanish officers and soldiers and many if not most of the women mentioned. However, for a non Chilean reader this important aspect of the novel and which adds to its value cannot be appreciated. For this reason, I would have liked to see footnotes to assist the reader to discern historical facts.

Having read many of Allende’s books and having grown a little tired of her use of ‘magic realism’, this book was like a breathe of fresh air. This is to me one of Allende’s best, if not her best book and I value the fact that she undertook much historical research in order to bring us a reliable narrative of the life of Inés de Suárez.
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LibraryThing member claudiabowman
For some reason, I was reluctant to open this one and put it in the bottom of my stack. But once I started reading I was immediately taken in. Allende has such a wonderful style and such a way with her characters and with creating such vivid worlds. Fantastic!
LibraryThing member soliloquies
Unable to read this one, as I could not get into the book - it sounded like a great idea but just didn't work out for me.
LibraryThing member roxanacaivano
When I first picked the book up, I figured it was about a torrid love affair. Of course it turned out to be, but that wasn't the real story. The conquest of Chile was not something I thought I'd ever want to read about, but it kept me completely engrossed. Wonderful book.
LibraryThing member RcCarol
I don’t think I’ve had a book read to me since grammar school. I had resisted books on CD since I believed that I had an inadequate attention span, but a long commute and the expense of the Teaching Company classes made me reevaluate my stand. I decided to start with the “A”s, so picked up Ines of My Soul, written by Isabel Allende. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ines Suarez is newly widowed and near death as she tells her story to her husband’s daughter. A young woman in the early 16th century Spain, she follows her wastrel husband to the New World to find that he had already died. She initially settles in Peru, where she becomes the lover of the married Pedro de Valdivia. Ines accompanies Valdivia to Chile, which Valdivia hopes to conquer for Spain. However, the trip is perilous and the natives unwilling to allow the Spaniards to settle in their territory. The conquest led to years of brutal warfare between the peoples. In Santiago, Ines becomes a leading citizen as an advisor, nurse, and cook. She also knows how to use a sword, using one to great effect during an early battle with the Indians.

Ines of My Soul is historical fiction, based on the true story of the founding of Chile. The story was so engrossing that several times I found myself in the car, at home after a long day at work, unwilling to end the story. The characters were interesting and believable, such that I felt that I knew Ines and her family. Ines is more or less a true Spaniard, who believes that the Christianization of the Indians is essential, and she fails to see how the conquest of South America is disastrous to the native populations. That the natives are essentially enslaved to the Spaniards seems almost natural to her. That said, she is horrified by the treatment of the Indians by the conquistadors, who rape and murder Indians at will. Whether a reader should suspend moral judgment will, of course, be up to the reader. I found it hard at times to do so. It certainly inspired some contemplation about the conquest of the new world.

The book was read by Blair Brown, who did an excellent job of developing Ines’ voice. I highly recommend the CD, and suspect that the book is also a great read.
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LibraryThing member thejohnsmith
I enjoyed this book - an historical novel set in the times of the Spanish conquistadors and the lives they led in South America. The story of Ines, the woman at the heart of the tale, is interesting, often surprising, sometimes a little confronting but always engaging. They were tough times.
LibraryThing member kristi17
This is a romantic drama that I enjoyed very much, mostly the parts that touched on the details of everyday life for the Spanish in their struggles to claim Chile. I would have liked to see more information on the real Suarez, what is really known about her vs what Allende needed to elaborate on. All in all a hard to put down account of New World adventure, one that I will probably pick up to read again...someday.… (more)
LibraryThing member mbergman
A fairly typical Allende novel, though more bloody & romantic. It's the fictionalized story of the founding of Chile in the 16th century--very dramatic. Allende is, as always, a good storyteller, though this is a little melodramatic for my taste.
LibraryThing member marient
Historical fiction of the life of Isabel Suarez, a daring Spanish conquiistadora who toiled to build the nation of Chile-and whose vital role has too often been forgotten by history.
LibraryThing member koalamom
This is an amazing story about a real, amazing woman of the 16th century. She was born poor in Spain, married the town gigilo who then abandoned her for the lure of El dorado in the newly discovered South America. She eventually follows him there and ends up helping found a city and possibly a country and has a relationship with two remarkable men.

The book is written in first person with Ines telling her story which ends with the death of one of her two loves in South America, but not her last one. It is told as a story to her adopted daughter, Isabel.

It was a wonderful slow read taking me to a place of intrigue, hardship and beauty.
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LibraryThing member emmakendon
An interesting read from an unreliable narrator giving an insight into the Spanish conquest of Peru and Chile. Awful slush seriously lets it down though.
LibraryThing member exkayaker
Isabel Allende continues to impress me with her amibitious writing. Even though this book has some blood and gore, I believe Allende presented no more than she had to in order to be realistic. I would love to know more about the real people on which the book is based.
LibraryThing member Joycepa
Another fascinating historical novel from Isabel Allende. Set in 16th century Peru and Chile, Inez is the lover of one and the husband of another adventurer/conquerer of Peru and Chile. A little more rigidly structured than Daughter of Fortune--Inés Suárez, Pedro de Valdivia, and Rodrigo Quiroga were real people--it's still an absorbing account of the initial history of Chile; the historical figures totally come to life. Inéz Suárez is yet another of Allende's strong women.… (more)
LibraryThing member TallyDi
It's an excellent story with the bonus that the narrator, Inés Suárez, lived the events depicted.
LibraryThing member noodlejet22
This is a nice piece of historical fiction about a woman who moves to the new world following love. With her courage and love for a married man Ines helps found Chile and and create a strong country that stands many wars to name a few assaults. This is a wonderful account of the importance of women in history, their often unsung bravery and importance.… (more)
LibraryThing member julierh
good historical fiction about the conquest of chile; there's no doubt that allende writes with a lot of skill and i give this 2 1/2 stars primarily because it's not my thing and because i started to find the battles redundant.
LibraryThing member r_cuningham
Good fiction about the conquest of Chile, based on the events of a historical woman's life, Inés.
LibraryThing member TonyaSB
The story is about a young Spanish woman who follows her husband when he goes off to the New World to make his fortune. The book seemed pretty interesting but there was one thing that turned me off and it happened so much that I just couldn't listen anymore. It's told from the point of view of a much older Ines telling about her younger self, which is fine. I've read lots of books that start in the future and then go back. However, she continually makes allusions to things that will happen later in the most annoying ways. "As you will see later," "As will be explained later," "Which would never come to pass," "If I had only known how it would turn out." These phrases are fairly irritating when used more than once. Yes, I believe you should only use this once in a book no matter how long that book is. It can make a certain impact when used correctly. If used too many times, it simply becomes irritating. If the book is 985 pages long, it should still only be used once. I listened to the audio book for an hour and she said it 10 times. I'm not sure how many chapters or pages that was but it wasn't very long of a time to have it said that many times! Just tell me the story as it happens. Quit telling me that something is going to happen or that I will see different results later. Just tell it and let it unfold naturally. So I wish I could tell you more about the book but I just got irritated and stopped listening. The book is already on it's way to it's new owner, care of Paperback Swap. I hope that person enjoys it more than me… (more)
LibraryThing member Cailin
I enjoyed this book - particularly the historical perspective although not nearly as much as some of her other books
LibraryThing member SigmundFraud
I was disappointed by this book. I have read several better Allende novels. She clearly has done a great deal of research and it is an interesting treatise on the Spanish conquering of the west coast of South America but the story does move well.
LibraryThing member bpompon
I usually love Allende's books. I had a really hard time connecting with this book. It was well written, but it didn't ever really draw me in.
LibraryThing member phoibee
"You will find, señora, that these conquistadors have no shame. They arrive as beggars, they act like thieves, and then they behave as if they were lords of the world."

These conquistadors from Spain once came to my country, the Philippines, and lived like the lords of the world. The horrendous things happened to Chile were the same things happened to my country: they took advantage of our land & resources, abused our natives, ruined our culture, and imposed their religion. The Indians in their land, however, were different from our natives. Indians fought endlessly unlike the Filipinos who embraced the presence of the conquistadors. I don't know if it was because of inherent hospitality of the Filipinos or the desire to avoid of conflict. As a result, the Spaniards colonized us for more than 300 years.

Inés of My Soul is a fresh perspective to read. I usually read about being colonized because of our history, not from the eyes of the colonizers. Inés Suárez wrote about her love and adventures from Spain to Peru and Chile. Her manuscripts were for her daughter to read. These were mostly ignored by historians for centuries (I think because of her gender).
"Courage is a virtue appreciated in a male but considered a defect in our gender. Bold women are a threat to a world that is badly out of balance, in favor of men. That is why they work so hard to mistreat us and destroy us."

The autobiographical book was woven by intuition of [author:Isabel Allende|2238], meticulously crafted and researched.
"We are off to Chile, Inés of my soul. ."
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