The Infinite Plan

by Isabel Allende

Other authorsMargaret Sayers Peden (Translator)
Hardcover, 1993

Call number





HarperCollins (1993), Edition: 1st, 384 pages


The story weaves a vivid and engrossing tale of one man's search for love and his struggle to come to terms with a childhood of poverty and neglect. As he journeys from the Hispanic barrio in Los Angeles to the killing fields of Vietnam to the frenetic life of a lawyer in San Francisco, Gregory Reeves loses himself in an illusory and wrongheaded quest. Only when he circles back to his roots does he find the love and acceptance he has been looking for.

User reviews

LibraryThing member riofriotex
This book was written in 1991, a few years after Allende married her second husband, a San Francisco attorney. She mentioned in her memoir My Invented Country that The Infinite Plan was a story about her husband. There are some real life parallels: in this book, the main character, Gregory Reeves, fathers a daughter who later becomes a drug addict. In real life, Allende's husband's daughter dies from a drug overdose about the same time as Allende's daughter from her first marriage, Paula, dies from porphyria.

Greg attends Berkeley in the 60s, serves in Vietnam in the 70s, and becomes a successful lawyer in the 80s, and the novel reflects the excesses of these eras.

This was Allende’s first book set in the United States, and it is clear she did a lot of research on her new home. The weakest part are the events set in Vietnam; Greg’s ability to make friends with the villagers he is spying on does not ring true. I found her characterizations of the women in the book, particularly Carmen Morales, Greg’s childhood friend, and Olga, a part of his family from his itinerant childhood, to be stronger than any of the men. It’s an interesting book, but probably not one of Allende’s better ones.
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LibraryThing member rutibegga
i'm generally a huge fan of allende, but gah! reading this book was a chore.
LibraryThing member marient
s Gregory's story unfolds, we follow his struggle to survive-persecution by the gangs in the bario, the horrors of the war in Vietnam-and to be successful. A laawyer in San Francisco, Gregory prusues money and possessions, looks for love in the wrong women, abuses alcohol, neglects hischildren, and loses himself in an illusory and wrongheaded quest. A powerful tale of loneliness and love, betrayals and hurdles, and defeats that finally lead to acceptance and reconciliation.… (more)
LibraryThing member Andi182
For me this was a book that escapes from the so peculiar style of Allende. The majority of her books has as scenario the beautiful landscapes of Chile, but this one is in America, California, more precisely. Although the place is different Allend arranged a way to give it an exotic atmosphere, with smells of Mexico, the oriental atmosphere in Vietnam with the War, ...

I liked this book, not only because I think it is a really good novel, but also it has essential questions about life and destiny, and, after all, what is the plan, the infinite plan that was designed for us?

For me the division of the book resembles our life, the beginning talks about the childhood of Gregory Reeves, the main character, it is all about good memories, the naive curiosity of the world, contact with the Nature. Albeit, there is a starting shadow that threatens that happiness that shadow grows with him as he understands better his surrounding.

From a childhood of travelling, esoteric reunions that his father commanded, he passed to a youth of suffering, running from problems, always working. The event that triggered this change was his father's disease and the establishing of the family in a Hispanic neighborhood.

Gregory succeeded in get out of that poor neighborhood with the help of his closest friends, Carmen Morales and Cyrus. He enters in college, in Berkeley, where his liberty principles grow strong.

The third part of the book is about his passage in Vietnam's war, when he defies death and acknowledge the brutality of men, and those principles of peace and equality are replaced for a desire for success, money and rise in the society.

The last part of this novel consists in the catharsis of all of his problems since his childhood. Gregory realizes that there is no infinite plan, you only survive, you have to make your own decisions.

Although the main character is Gregory Reeves, other characters as his mother, his sister, Carmen, his wives and children intensifies the script and complement the numerous issues that this book portrays.
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LibraryThing member mathrocks
I was expecting a book that was a kind of cross between Allende's usual subjects and a view of Americana and American culture (such as by Paul Auster). This did partially happen, but not as much as I hoped. On the plus side, much of the book has the kind of soaring prose and surrealism (if that is the right word) that one expects from Isabelle Allende, and the book succeeds in many ways. But there are a number of jarring moments where the narrative falters.

After reading the book, I discovered from the end matter that it is intended to be the true story of her husband. This explains a lot about the style and the plot. On one hand, the character does not follow the kind of development you expect from a fictionally planned character. More to the point, it seems awkward that a real life story is being shoehorned into a larger-than-life narrative. (Maybe this seems backwards, but this is the way I feel about it.) Also, the belated discovery that the story is based on real life characters has raised a lot of thoughts and issues for me. I have been thinking all day about how to reinterpret the entire plot, and the truthfulness and motivations of the characters. It also explains some mysteries, such as why Carmen and Tamar seems to be consist of two completely different personalities. (Answer: it is based on two people.)

I have only read three Allende books so far, and this one falls somewhere in the middle. Even with only a three star rating, I would recommend it to others to read.
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LibraryThing member ariesblue
Gregory Reeves a son of a traveling preacher who settles in the Hispanic section of Los Angeles ,grows up experiencing life as a member of a minority group within the community. Local gang members make his life a nightmare,always attacking him being the only (white) boy in the district. Eventually he finds his way out defending himself,
Gregory's life is shaped by a series of events and a lot of tragedies and misery......
his serves in the army,and witnessing all the horrors of the war,and the death of his best friend, whom he considers him his brother,and his other half ,and being raped and abused in his childhood ,this and all other sufferings leaves marks on his soul...
he loses contact with his children and ruined his marriage...
he married for a romantic vision of love,but disappointingly learns that he have mistaken physical beauty for true affection....
he finally seeks the help of a psychiatrist ,she helped him to understand himself and know the motivations of his actions...
Allende managed to focus on the darker and weaker aspects of his character,but at the same time u can’t help loving him ,understand and be tolerant with all his mistakes......

this novel is different from all other Allende previous works....
she inspired some of it’s events from the life of her husband...

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LibraryThing member MarysGirl
From the back:

"In her first novel set in the United States and portraying American characters, bestselling author Isabel Allende weaves a vivid and engrossing tale of one man's search for love, and his struggle to come to terms with a childhood of poverty and neglect. As he journeys from the Hispanic barrio in Los Angeles to the killing fields of Vietnam to the frenetic life of a lawyer in San Fransisco, Gregory Reeves loses himself in an illusory and wrongheaded quest. Only when he circles back to his roots does he find the love and acceptance he has been looking for."

My review:

Finding out that this has parallels to Allende's husband's life, informs this book and explains some odd style choices such as the very occasional first person chapters. Allende is one of my favorite authors, but like several others have posted, this one didn't grab me as much as I'd hoped. It's typical Allende character-driven fiction, but I wasn't pulled in by the characters; Gregory Reeves least of all. Some of her minor characters like Olga and Inmaculada were much more interesting. That said, I still find her writing lyrical and insights in to the human psyche enchanting. She also gives a nod to the helpfulness of therapy to those who are willing to do the work and make the changes that will improve their lives.
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