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In the Midst of Winter

In the Midst of Winter Book Cover In the Midst of Winter
Isabel Allende
Atria Books
October 31, 2017
Free from publisher

New York Times and 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.

My review:

This was an interesting story about three people thrown together by circumstance when a horrific blizzard hits New York City. Richard inadvertently plows into the back of a car driven by Evelyn, who later comes to him for help getting her out of a bad situation with her employer. Because Richard cannot communicate with her, he enlists the help of his downstairs tenant Lucia. Both of these women have immigrated to the states from South America, and we go back in time as they tell their respective stories of their harrowing life experiences. Richard is also not without a sad story of his own. Together the three hatch a plan to take care of Evelyn's problem, and a grand adventure ensues. I loved the fact that two of the protagonists in this book were middle aged, it's so rare to find in books that I read. The way that their love story evolves (but doesn't take over the plot of the book) was poignant and real. I will admit that the adventure takes some rather silly turns, but at that point I was so invested in the characters, that I just went along for the ride (no pun intended). The writing was crisp, and even though we are going back in time with each character's story, it flowed together with the current timeline smoothly. Each of the three characters were really well drawn, and the ending has a little twist that I suspected, but was very satisfying.

This was a very engaging book with a unique plot, engaging characters, a wonderful backstory about immigration, and even a bit of mystery and suspense thrown in. The escapade these three characters embark on is a bit over the top at times, but that did not keep me from truly enjoying this story.


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