“I never try to give a message in my books. It’s about living with characters long enough to hear their voices and let them tell me the story. Sometimes I would love to have a happy ending, and it doesn’t happen because the character or the story leads me in another direction.”
In the Midst of Winter connects Isabel Allende with Albert Camus to show how the image of pain connects us to our neighbor. When they recognize our trauma, usually through a story we tell about our past, we feel like they see us. Isabel Allende’s In the Midst of Winter is a beautiful book that prompts readers to meditate on their profound sense of belonging we feel from our community.
If you believe Haruki Murakami, then all reality is memory. When we tell a story about our past, we reconstruct our histories: that is the power of narrative. This book celebrates that same metaphysical conception of reality that Murakami explores, while encouraging us to remember together the way Lucia, Evelyn, and Richard do between the pages of this book.
“Au milieu de l’hiver, j’apprenais enfin qu’il y avait en moi un été invincible.”
“In the midst of winter, I finally found there was within me an invincible summer.”
Isabel Allende is a Chillean-American writer whose work is sometimes awarded the label of magical realism. Her 1982 novel, The House of Spirits, is frequently referenced in books centered on the theme of magical realism.
The title of this new novel comes from a lesser known essay by Albert Camus, “Return to Tipasa.”
The publisher describes the book as follows:
“In the Midst of Winter begins with a minor traffic accident—which becomes the catalyst for an unexpected and moving love story between two people who thought they were deep into the winter of their lives. Richard Bowmaster—a 60-year-old human rights scholar—hits the car of Evelyn Ortega—a young, undocumented immigrant from Guatemala—in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn. What at first seems just a small inconvenience takes an unforeseen and far more serious turn when Evelyn turns up at the professor’s house seeking help. At a loss, the professor asks his tenant Lucia Maraz—a 62-year-old lecturer from Chile—for her advice. These three very different people are brought together in a mesmerizing story that moves from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil, sparking the beginning of a long overdue love story between Richard and Lucia.
Exploring the timely issues of human rights and the plight of immigrants and refugees, the book recalls Allende’s landmark novel The House of the Spirits in the way it embraces the cause of “humanity, and it does so with passion, humor, and wisdom that transcend politics” (Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post). In the Midst of Winter will stay with you long after you turn the final page.”