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Likely Stories - The Soul of a Woman by Isabel Allende

Passionate story of a woman with powerful story telling ability.

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Isabel Allende has written “a passionate and inspiring meditation of what it means to be a woman.” She has written eighteen solid novels, along with five works of nonfiction. The House of Spirits is her first novel, and the first of hers I had the pleasure to read. The Soul of a Woman is a self-searching look at life.

She wrote, “When I say that I was a feminist in kindergarten, even before the concept was known in my family, I am not exaggerating. I was born in nineteen-forty-two, so we are talking remote antiquity. I believe that the situation of my mother, Panchita, triggered my rebellion against male authority. Her husband abandoned her in Peru with two toddlers in diapers and a new born baby. Panchita was forced to return to her parents’ home in Chile, where I spent the first years of my childhood”

“All joy and light disappeared from the house after my grandmother’s premature death. I remember my childhood as a time of fear and darkness. What did I fear? That my mother would die, and we would be sent to an orphanage, that I would be kidnapped by pirates, that the Devil would appear in the mirrors…well, you get the idea. I am grateful to that unhappy childhood because it provided ample material for my writing. I don’t know how novelists with happy childhoods in normal homes manage”

“Feminism often sounds scary because it seems too radical or is interpreted as hatred of men. Before continuing I must clarify this for some of my readers. Let’s start with the term patriarchy. // My definition of patriarchy may differ a bit from Wikipedia or Webster’s Dictionary. Originally it meant the absolute supremacy of men over women, over species, and over nature, but the feminist movement has undermined that absolute power in some respects, although in others it persists as it has for thousands of years. Although many discriminatory laws have been changed, the patriarchy continues to be the prevalent system for political, economic, cultural, and religious oppression”

“Everything changed for me in nineteen-sixty-seven when I started working as a journalist at a newly launched feminist magazine. […] The editor was Delia Vergara, a young and beautiful journalist who lived in Europe and had a clear vision of the type of magazine she wanted. With that in mind, she gathered her small team. The magazine saved me from being suffocated by frustration”. Such is the life of Isabel Allende and The Soul of a Woman.  5 Stars!

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and happy reading!

Life-long voracious reader, Jim McKeown, is an English Instructor at McLennan Community College. His "Likely Stories" book review can be heard every Thursday on KWBU-FM! Reviews include fiction, biographies, poetry and non-fiction. Join us for Likely Stories every Thursday featured during Morning Edition and All Things Considered with encore airings Saturday and Sunday during Weekend Edition.