Winter Book Club: In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende
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.”
By Jessica S. Manuel
Book Oblivion’s Book Club reads a new book together every spring, summer, fall, and winter. We are just two weeks away from diving into our winter read and you are welcome to join us. What’s on the menu? Well, as most of you know, I choose books I think you will enjoy AND that I haven’t read. I’m excited to announce our first book of the new year is In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende.
“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, was frequently referenced in my research on magical realism for our Reading Beyond Murakami course this past fall. When I saw that her newest novel, In the Midst of Winter, was just published in May of last year, I thought it would be incredible to read through it with you.
The title of this new novel comes from a lesser known essay by Albert Camus, “Return to Tipasa.” This season we’ll read and discuss the book for five weeks, averaging 60 pages a week, and then spend one more week discussing the essay, which is about 8 pages.
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.”
If you’d like to read and discuss this novel with the Book Oblivion community, you can request to join our private Facebook group HERE.
Our first discussion will take place the weekend of February 2, so in the meantime, you can order it from Amazon or find it at your local library.
I can’t wait to get started!