Saturday, 18 January 2014

Ripper: A Novel by Isabel Allende Review

Ripper At the age of 71 the great novelist Isabel Allende   has published her first suspense and crime novel. After reading an interview in Spanish in El Heraldo last year, I could hardly wait for the book to be launched.According to the newspaper , after writing Maya's Notebook, she thought about working alongside with her husband and writer  William C. Gordon  on a crime novel.However, the collaboration didn't last more than 24 minutes since both of them had different ways of working.

The idea of the name Ripper came to her mind after seen her granddaughter playing a role game called this way.

I confess that the style change of the author took be aback at first and I really didn't feel like reading a crime novel , nonetheless, having been written by Isabel Allende, I had to read it , at least begin it. I was right , I was hooked form the very first page.

At the beginning of the book the author narrates an extremely bizarre and horrible murder but in a very entertaining  and surprisingly funny way .The characters, just like in all the novels by this author constitute  a universe in themselves, and their descriptions are so well developed that whole books could be written about every single one of them.

Amanda Martin, the master behind the role game, her grandfather Blake Jackson, Amanda's mother Indiana Jackson with her peculiar job as a healer, her ex-husband, the police inspector Bob Martin, the godmother and seer Celeste Roco (who looks like a chubbier  Eva Perón ) and Indiana's varied clientele , such as Miller ,a former Navy Seal and many more. All of them are an important part of the universe created by Isabel Allende which unravels gradually as you go on reading. The author reveals details of their lives which are terrible, original ,weird and fun at the same time. Once you meet these literary characters , they become people you would really like to meet in person .

 I like Amanda very much for her ability to survive (four years in a religious school), her bright mind, her way of thinking outside the box and her funny habits. She has a virtual boyfriend (currently under the effects of adolescence) , called Bradley,with lemon-green hair due to his many hours under the swimming-pool water and who is a keen sci-fi reader.

Blake is the ideal grandfather all grandchildren would love. He runs a Chemist's and devours books. In fact, he ends up becoming a writer himself and narrating Amanda's adventures.,

Indiana Jackson is desired by several men because of her looks and her good heart which gets her in  a lot of trouble . I really dislike Alan Keller, her lover , who is ashamed of her in public and enjoys her company in private.

Bob Martin , Amanda's dad and former football player has learnt with the help of a stubborn Mexican mother the importance of becoming a responsible and mature person.

The book is divided into months and by March the number of murders has increased and the plot is getting more and more complicated. The end of the book has more action and less character  description. At this point I went back to the beginning of the novel and then the first paragraph made sense .

I was relatively surprised by the outcome of the book, I saw it coming in a way but still found it very interesting.

 In my opinion, what really makes this book stand out is the world created by the author around the characters. It is not an action-packed thriller where characters run to and fro like crazy chasing the bad guys . It is in many ways a very deep novel about what life is like : pain, good, evil and love . I laughed and shed some tears with the book, I loved and loathed some characters.It is indeed a book worth reading.

Isabel Allende has received many awards for her successful career as a writer. Her readers are innumerable and we all want just another book, please and then another one and another one.

This is the first time that I include in the blog a review both in English and Spanish, it is not a word for word translation because I believe that we speak in a different way depending on the language we use.Isabel Allende's book deserves this exception.

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