Review: In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

Title: In the Midst of Winter
Author: Isabel Allende
Pages: 352
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Source: Free ARC from Atria

Rating: 4 stars

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Atria via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.

Review: I’m finding the plot of this book rather difficult to summarize, likely because there were several stories playing out in the past and present of each character’s life. So here is my best attempt:

Three people who are indirectly connected by their previous lives in Central and South America find themselves in a tricky situation, the resolution to which is blurred by their previous experiences and the irreparable harm that would come to one of them if they came forward.

This is my first novel by the famous and well-regarded Isabel Allende, and while it didn’t wow me, I found it to be smartly written, and the premise piqued my interest from the onset.

Historical fiction is definitely one of my preferred genres, particularly if the subject matter or time period draws me into a culture, time or place of which I know very little. Then I get to enjoy the fictional bits and feel like I’m getting something educational out of it as well. Having read this book, I feel like my perspective on immigration has been widened, and my interest in Central and South America has increased ten-fold.

What made this a 3.5 star rather than a 4 star is the developing romance between two of the main characters. While I appreciate the theme of finding love later in life, the connection between Lucia and Richard simply wasn’t there. It didn’t feel believable to me. A friendship and mutual respect? Definitely. Romantic feelings? Absent. It felt like I was being told when I prefer being shown.

What made it a 3.5 star rather than a 3 star is the exceptional writing, the degree to which I loved Lucia and the need to know how it all turned out in the end. While the romantic aspect of the book didn’t suit me, everything else about it did.

If you like literary and/or historical fiction, this is a great read. If you want a different perspective on immigration and the myriad reasons why people risk their lives to cross the border rather than wait for the wheels of bureaucracy to turn, this is a great read.

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