Isabel Allende’s everlasting summer

Having an open mind, unplugged ears and an unfettered heart has been decisive for the work of Isabel Allende to reach some 70 million homes and be translated into 35 languages.

At 75 years old, this Chilean writer is far from breaking up her chain of successes. This year she published In the Midst of Winter (Amazon, Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.), where she explores the timely issues of human rights, the plight of immigrants and refugees, the current identity of America, and the hope for love and new chances.

Isabel Allende’s everlasting summer

The title of his novel is based on a quote by Albert Camus, "In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer." How can summer be imposed on the wintertide of our lives?

By opening up your heart. The book introduces three people who thought they were deep into the winter of their lives: a Guatemalan girl who fled the violence in her country; Richard, who has been locked up for 20 years in his own winter; and Lucia who, despite all her suffering, is still willing to take risks. The three come together in an adventure that leads them to discover that, if they open up their hearts, they can relish the joyful summer that we all have inside.

In your case, what helped you prevail over those "winters"?

I think that everything in this life is fleeting and that, after the time of any pain has gone by, it is likely one will find happiness again. This belief has given me strength even in the most desperate moments, as in the death of my daughter Paula.

What satisfactions has your writing brought on?

Name it. In order to figure out your life you need to put order into it. Writing has allowed me just that: it made my life more intelligible. It is also a healing experience as I found out when I wrote Paula, where I marshaled all relevant facts regarding the chaotic year during which my daughter fell into a coma which resulted in her demise. Doing it helped me clear up that cloud of pain and I lost my fear of death.

You found love again at age 75... What is the difference now from when you were 20?

None save the rush of time. One loves with the same intensity, passion and desire at 20 as at 50 or older. Roger [Cukras] is 74 and I am 75 years old and perhaps the health and the energy to indulge in this romance is much less now than it was when we were young, but that allows us to live out our relationship with one another, as we are more assertive of what we want from life. We realize now how extraordinary this is and therefore we value it more.

You said that the only thing left is the love you give. Is giving your greatest happiness?

Also cutting down on your load! I’ve just moved to a new home. Now I live in a small cottage by the water. It has only one room, one bed. I feel very happy. With the passage of time you realize that all that stuff you possess weighs on you. I’ve just recently lost a box with my last jewelry. You cannot imagine the peace of mind that came with knowing that I no longer have to worry about taking care of them. That is one of the wonders that only come with age.

Isabel’s books

First book you read: “I don’t recall! I was only four years old!”

Book you’re reading: La patria de cristal (translates to “Crystal homeland”) by Elizabeth Subercaseaux. 

Favorite movie based on a book: "Shakespeare in Love. It's not based on a book, but on a famous play."