Well, I just got done with “Ines of My Soul”, and it was fun journey. Not as moody a piece as I expected considering the dark times it deals with, but very solid.
The novel somehow balanced itself precariously between the Conquistador and Native perspectives, even though its main character — and exclusive narrator — is biased. The sins and virtues of both sides are discussed at length.
But really the core of this novel is the story about the failed relationship between the main character, Ines Suarez, and the Conquistador and first Governor of Chile, Pedro de Valdivia. And that’s what bugs me.
The book starts in Spain, telling of Ines’s early life, her first marriage, her eventual travel to South America — brave and unique, because she is one of the few Spanish women to travel there, and she has done so with no male escort. This build-up is long. VERY long. And it is not until she meets Pedro de Valdivia that the book suddenly develops the soul and energy that carry it through. There were several places where I stopped listening and nearly did not come back — but I’m glad I did.
Unfortunately, I am not a scholar of South American history, so I cannot comment on the veracity of Allende’s interpretation of the historical record — but I can say that she has created a very convincing world and extremely intriguing characters. Once the book really starts — perhaps a quarter of the way in — it really delivers.
About the reading: Blair Brown does a bold job delivering the Spanish accent, but it does crumble away from time to time in very subtle ways. Also, she pronounces the title of the book “Inyes” — with an ~ over the n, but the rest of the book the name is not pronounced this way. These small flaws tarnished the otherwise shining coin. Unfortunately for this book, I had just finished Gorge Guidall’s incomparable reading of Don Quixote — it is hard to stand up to such competition.
Overall, 4 out of 5 jelly-filled teddy bears.