Summary and book reviews of In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

In the Midst of Winter

by Isabel Allende

In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende
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  • Published:
    Oct 31, 2017, 352 pages

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Book Summary

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.

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Each of the three main characters—Lucia, Evelyn, and Richard—experiences some kind of isolation in their present life. The book begins with Lucia physically isolated in her apartment during a snowstorm. In what other ways is she isolated? How is her isolation different from Evelyn's? And from Richard's?
  2. Evelyn comes to the United States as a refugee fleeing violence. Compare her experience entering the country with that of other immigrants you know of or have read about. Why did they leave their native countries, and what were their first experiences as immigrants? Did you find any aspects of Evelyn's journey surprising? It is said that the United States is a country of immigrants, and that immigrants made this ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

This winter's tale has something to melt each frozen heart.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Filled with Allende's signature lyricism and ingenious plotting, this book delves wonderfully into what it means to respect, protect, and love.

Booklist

Starred Review. Allende has a rare and precious gift for simultaneously challenging and entrancing readers by dramatizing with startling intimacy such diresituations as the desperation behind illegal immigration and domestic violence, then reveling, a page later, in spiritual visions or mischievous sexiness or heroic levity.

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