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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
"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."
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.