The Sum of Our Days

Isabel Allende

A brilliant memoir from the celebrated Chilean novelist on friends, family and life in California, her adopted home.

Isabel Allende has sold more than 50 million copies of her books worldwide. The most beloved and successful of her books, ‘The House of the Spirits’, was based on her Chilean childhood, and other autobiographical works include the deeply moving ‘Paula’ – a family history written at the bedside of her daughter while she lay in a coma – and the fascinating ‘My Invented Country’, which explored the events of her native Chile where she lived until Pinochet’s military coup. Now, in ‘The Sum of the Days’, we have Isabel describe in an exceptionally vivid, human and deeply personal way her life in California where she has lived for more than 25 years.

The first page picks up from where Paula ends – her daughter never did wake up from her coma and died in 1992 – when Allende recounts spreading Paula’s ashes in her favourite part of the woods by their home. It is fair to say that Isabel has never recovered from losing her daughter but has managed to survive by keeping her husband, son, grandchildren as well as close friends – kindred spirits – central to her life. The book is particularly illuminating and revealing about her working life – she must begin every new book she writes on January 8th or else abandon it for a year. ‘The Sum of the Days’, based on Allende’s own journals and daily correspondence with her mother in Chile, reveals the author to be a dazzling, generous, warm and hysterically funny matriarch within her swirl of family and friends.

Reviews of The Sum of Our Days

    • ‘It is witty and warm–hearted, for all the family woes. Allende is so intelligent and entertaining that she can spin beguiling material out of anything, from her grand–daughter’s squint to the skunk that fell in the Jacuzzi. Even her divorce counselling sounds charming. She is eloquent on the subject of grief for Paula, and funny about lesser travails.’ Miranda France, Daily Telegraph
    • ‘Manages in her third volume of memoir to make her own domestic problems seem quite ordinary, yet at the same time lifts them to the uniquely novelistic. Allende’s storytelling powers mean this has all the verve of a good soap opera and the reader quickly feels part of the family.’ Stephanie Merritt, Observer
    • ‘She has a personality so strong it rushes off the page, a remarkable presence even in translation. It’s like a long, lovely letter from a friend. Be careful where you open and sample this book, because some of it is marvellous.’ Scotsman
    • ‘It’s a generous, vibrant family album, testament to her passion for storytelling, and for life.’ Sunday Business Post