From the Chilean-American magical realist author of The House of the Spirits, a novel about two NYU professors and a Guatemalan nanny, thrown together during a Brooklyn blizzard, who find themselves with a body to dispose of.
Allende, 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 ... 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.
Devotees of Allende’s forays into magical realism will find the universe she creates here — an account of earthly lives lived in an earthly setting — more madcap and macabre ... What follows is a caper: cinematic in quality and marked by moments of reflection, yearning, terror and a bit of slapstick comedy ... While In the Midst of Winter lacks subtlety at points — the title, epigraph and ending dialogue all refer to the same Camus quotation — the novel delivers opportunities for the reader to ponder nuanced moral questions involving immigration policies and the administration of natural justice.
Isabel Allende’s In the Midst of Winter is her 19th novel, and it is told with her characteristic warmth ... It’s when revealing the characters’ harrowing past lives in other countries that the generous and unflagging energy that characterized Allende’s debut, The House of the Spirits, can most clearly be felt ...sturdy braid of dramatic migration stories is balanced by an equally interesting present-day plot ... Allende writes in a tender and direct way about what it’s like to live in an older body while seeking romantic love and sexual intimacy ...when Allende moves away from the potential love story, and ties the plot too intricately back to immigration trouble, the novel loses some of its verve ... It’s not hard to arrive at the end of this arresting romance and conclude that if its politics around documentation and human trafficking are expressed too bluntly, too crudely, the reality Allende drew from warrants it.