Skip to main content
Displaying 1 of 1
In the midst of winter : a novel
Copies Available
Tags, Other Editions, Similar Titles
Author Notes
Isabel Allende was born in 1942 in Lima, Peru, the daughter of a Chilean diplomat. When her parents separated, young Isabel moved with her mother to Chile, where she spent the rest of her childhood. She married at the age of 19 and had two children, Paula and Nicolas. Her uncle was Salvador Allende, the president of Chile. When he was overthrown in the coup of 1973, she fled Chile, moving to Caracas, Venezuela.

While living in Venezuela, Allende began writing her novels, many of them exploring the close family bonds between women. Her first novel, The House of the Spirits, has been translated into 27 languages, and was later made into a film. She then wrote Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, and The Stories of Eva Luna, all set in Latin America. The Infinite Plan was her first novel to take place in the United States. She explores the issues of human rights and the plight of immigrants and refugees in her novel, In The Midst of Winter. In Paula, Allende wrote her memoirs in connection with her daughter's illness and death. She delved into the erotic connections between food and love in Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses.

In addition to writing books, Allende has worked as a TV interviewer, magazine writer, school administrator, and a secretary at a U.N. office in Chile. She received the 1996 Harold Washington Literacy Award. She lives in California. Her title Maya's Notebook made The New York Times Best Seller List in 2013.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Fiction/Biography Profile
Human rights
New York - Mid-Atlantic States (U.S.)
Brazil - South America / Latin America
Time Period
1970's-2000s -- 20th-21st century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews
New York Times Review
IN ISABEL allende'S new novel, a snowstorm and a car accident bring three people together on an unexpected journey that transforms their lives. As if this premise is not sufficiently hackneyed, Allende adds literary insult to injury by spelling it out in breathy prose: "Over the next three days, as the storm wearied of punishing the land and dissolved far out to sea, the lives of Lucia Maraz, Richard Bowmaster and Evelyn Ortega would become inextricably linked." The novel is riddled with such formulations. Seemingly intended to stab at the surreal, fablelike quality for which Allende is known, they come off as merely soppy and uninspired. In fact, the story owes less to magical realism than to histrionic crime dramas. Richard, a lonely, aging professor, sets out in a car from his Brooklyn apartment and collides with a vehicle being driven by Evelyn, an undocumented immigrant who happens to be driving her employer's car. She turns up at his apartment later that night, distraught and unintelligible, her Spanglish broken by a stammer she developed after suffering a brutal gang assault in her native Guatemala. Richard calls his tenant Lucia, a middle-aged visiting Chilean professor under his direction at N.Y.U., to help. The three split a pot brownie, as one does during blizzards with strangers, and swap life stories. It comes out that there is a corpse in Evelyn's trunk, which won't close thanks to the crash. She is terrified of returning the damaged car to her employer, the abusive Frank Leroy, who is sure to come after her if he knows she's seen the body. Naturally, Evelyn can't go to the police either. Moved by her plight, Richard and Lucia decide to help her dump car and corpse. This fantastic bit of plot - why on earth should they undertake such a risk for a stranger who, for all they know, committed the murder herself? - is supposed to be justified by their own immigrant histories: Lucia fled Chile's military junta in the 1970s; Richard, whose father escaped the Nazis, hears "his father's voice deep inside him reminding him of his duty to help the persecuted." As the trio journeys upstate, the novel flashes back through each character's past - Lucia's memories of a family fractured by war in Chile, Richard's doomed marriage in Brazil and Evelyn's tragic childhood in Guatemala. Some images are memorable: Lucia's murdered brother is "a feeling, a fleeting shadow, a kiss brushing her forehead"; a Guatemalan gangster has "tattoos spreading like a plague across his skin." Though inventive, these back stories are marred by simplistic exposition ("the deep crisis dividing Chile became unsustainable") and clunky dialogue ("this violence is the result of an endless war against the poor"). They plead with the reader to have sympathy for Latino immigrants, which is a fine humanitarian agenda. But heaps of suffering and misfortune cannot give depth to thin characters. Nor can love. Lucia and Richard fall into a late-age romance and, as in Allende's other love stories, their passion inspires some of the novel's most cringeworthy lines: She accuses him of having spent "many years with your soul in winter and your heart locked away." It also leads to a rosy, fairy-tale ending, which figures awkwardly in a novel that wants to tell the truth about immigration. This neat conclusion is a missed opportunity. It is difficult to imagine a more urgent time to tell stories of Latino immigrants. With references to Donald J. Trump and racial resentment in America, Allende is clearly eager to weigh in on the political moment. But the story is too shallow and the writing too syrupy to make for a thoughtful treatment of the subject. The characters' back stories plead with the reader to have sympathy for Latino immigrants. Elizabeth winkler is a reporter for The Wall Street Journal's "Heard on the Street" column.
Library Journal Review
A big bang brings together two professors, an illegal immigrant, and a frozen corpse during a 2016 blizzard. Professor Richard Bowmaster rear-ends a Lexus driven by Guatemalan nanny Evelyn Ortega, who then appears that evening at Richard's brownstone with a harrowing tale that requires Richard to call up his basement tenant, fellow professor Lucia Maraz, to help. Over the next few days, the trio will attempt to solve a murder, two will fall in love, one will need to disappear, and another will need to find resting peace. Dennis Boutsikaris presents Richard with equal parts dignity and desperation, revealing a past filled with selfish decisions, lost relationships, and self-imposed isolation. Alma Cuervo becomes Lucia, her voice rich and melodious, buoyant and solemn, as she shares the teacher's Chilean past, her family nearly destroyed by deception and violence. Jasmine Cephas Jones assumes Evelyn's horrific losses of siblings and culture-perhaps even her sanity-with compassion and grace. VERDICT The terrific triad bring gentle nuance and empathic energy to Allende's latest best seller; libraries will want to be prepared with all formats to meet high demand. ["Allende puts a human face on the realities of illegal immigration, broken hearts, courage, and healing": LJ 11/1/17 review of the Atria hc.]-Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, -Washington, DC © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
The audiobook of Allende's latest novel employs the vocals of three actors with mixed results. Actor Boutsikaris is a master of tempo, and her well-tempered reading here keeps listeners fastened to the story. Jones and Cuervo, on the other hand, tend to enunciate too carefully, obstructing Allende's rhythms and causing listeners to focus on individual words rather than the story as a whole. That said, the three actors convincingly portray the three protagonists of Allende's story, all of whom cross paths in Brooklyn. Each is scarred by experiences related to the Latin American political landscape of the 1970s: NYU professor Richard Bowmaster is a human rights scholar who has worked in Brazil; his tenant, Lucia Maraz, is a visiting professor from Chile; and Evelyn Ortega is an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala who crashes into Richard's car while driving her employer's Lexus on a snowy day. The book includes a somewhat awkward mixture of light romantic comedy and heavy personal and political tragedies-the Pinochet years, the terror of MS-13, the plight of immigrants, and the hideous business of sex slavery in the U.S. The readers are sweet in the romantic parts, but Allende's minute descriptions of violent personal and political events are harder to follow. An Atria hardcover. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* No one should be driving in blizzard-struck Brooklyn, but emergencies have forced Richard, a lonely academic, and Evelyn, a nanny caring for a boy with cerebral palsy, out onto the icy streets where their vehicles collide. When Evelyn reveals that she was driving her employer's car and that there's a body in the trunk, Richard summons his basement tenant and colleague, Lucia. Internationally beloved Allende (Ripper, 2014), as effervescent in her compassion, social concerns, and profound joy in storytelling as ever, brings both humor and intensity to this madcap, soulful, and transporting tale of three survivors who share their traumatic pasts while embarking on a lunatic mission of mercy. Life-embracing, funny, and tough Chilean journalist Lucia is hoping, still, for love after surviving political violence, exile, loveless marriages, and cancer. Richard, the American son of Holocaust survivors, suffers debilitating guilt over long-concealed disasters in Brazil. Evelyn made the perilous journey to the U.S. from her destitute Guatemalan village after being brutally assaulted by gang members. Allende has a rare and precious gift for simultaneously challenging and entrancing readers by dramatizing with startling intimacy such dire situations as the desperation behind illegal immigration and domestic violence, then reveling, a page later, in spiritual visions or mischievous sexiness or heroic levity. No wonder she was inspired by Albert Camus: In the midst of winter, I finally found there was within me an invincible summer. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Best-selling Allende will tour coast-to-coast with her latest, drumming up the usual reader frenzy.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2017 Booklist
Kirkus Review
Thrown together by a Brooklyn blizzard, two NYU professors and a Guatemalan nanny find themselves with a body to dispose of. "Blessed with the stoic character of her people, accustomed as they are to earthquakes, floods, occasional tsunamis, and political cataclysm," 61 year-old Chilean academic Lucia Maraz is nonetheless a bit freaked out by a snowstorm so severe that it's reported on television "in the solemn tone usually reserved for news about terrorism in far-off countries." Her landlord and boss, the tightly wound Richard Bowmaster, lives right upstairs with his four cats, but he rebuffs her offer of soup and company. Too bad: she might have a crush on him. Enter Evelyn Ortega, a diminutive young woman from Guatemala Richard meets when he skids into her Lexus on the iced-over streets. Evelyn's hysterical reaction to the fender bender seems crazily out of proportion when she shows up on his doorstep that night, and he has Lucia come up to help him understand why she's so upset. The Lexus, it turns out, belongs to her volatile, violent employerand there's a corpse in the now-unlatchable trunk. Once Lucia gradually pieces together Evelyn's storyshe was smuggled north by a coyote after barely surviving gang violence that killed both of her siblingsthe two professors decide to help her, and the plan they come up with is straight out of a telenovela. While that's getting underway, Allende (The Japanese Lover, 2015, etc.) fills in the dark and complicated histories of Richard and Lucia, who also have suffered defining losses. The horrors of Evelyn's past have left her all but mute; Richard is a complete nervous wreck; Lucia fears there is no greater love coming her way than that of her Chihuahua, Marcelo. This winter's tale has something to melt each frozen heart. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
New York Times Bestseller

Worldwide bestselling "dazzling storyteller" (Associated Press) Isabel Allende returns with a sweeping novel about three very different people who are brought together in a mesmerizing story that journeys from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil.

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.
Librarian's View
Displaying 1 of 1