Isabel Allende has sold more than 50 million copies of her books worldwide. The most beloved and successful of her books, ‘The House of the Spirits’, was based on her Chilean childhood, and other autobiographical works include the deeply moving ‘Paula’ – a family history written at the bedside of her daughter while she lay in a coma – and the fascinating My Invented Country, which explored the events of her native Chile where she lived until Pinochet’s military coup.
Now, in ‘The Sum of the Days’, we have Isabel describe in an exceptionally vivid, human and deeply personal way her life in California where she has lived for more than 25 years. The first page picks up from where Paula ends – her daughter never did wake up from her coma and died in 1992 – when Allende recounts spreading Paula’s ashes in her favourite part of the woods by their home. It is fair to say that Isabel has never recovered from losing her daughter but has managed to survive by keeping her husband, son, grandchildren as well as close friends – kindred spirits – central to her life. The book is particularly illuminating and revealing about her working life – she must begin every new book she writes on January 8th or else abandon it for a year.
‘The Sum of the Days’, based on Allende’s own journals and daily correspondence with her mother in Chile, reveals the author to be a dazzling, generous, warm and hysterically funny matriarch within her swirl of family and friends.