I AM EMILIA DEL VALLE d’Isabel Allende

I AM EMILIA DEL VALLE is a classic tale of love and war, of discovery and redemption, told by a valiant young woman who confronts monumental challenges, survives and reinvents herself.

by Isabel Allende
(via Writers House)

© Lori Barra

San Francisco, 1866. Emilia del Valle Walsh is born. Her mother, Molly Walsh, is an Irish nun who was seduced by a Chilean aristocrat. Pregnant and abandoned, Molly marries her friend, teacher Francisco Claro. Emilia grows up in the heart of a humble Mexican neighborhood, guided by the support of her stepfather, becoming a bright and independent young woman who challenges social norms to pursue her passion for writing.

At just sixteen, Emilia begins her career writing adventure novels under the pseudonym Brandon J. Price. After a few years, she secures a position as a columnist at the San Francisco Examiner, where she meets Eric Whelan, a respected journalist who becomes her mentor, despite competing for news coverage. Soon to expand her career, Emilia travels from California to New York City. There she meets Owen, Eric’s brother, who becomes her first lover. Summoned back to San Francisco and heartbroken, Emilia convinces her editor to send her to Chile to cover a civil war in which the United States has economic and political interests. Eric Whelan joins her in Chile as a correspondent.

Santiago, 1891. Emilia finds herself in a nation on the brink of an abyss. While covering the battle between President Balmaceda and the oppositional congress, she seizes the opportunity to explore her relationship with the del Valle family and meet her father, who is ruined and very ill.

Emilia’s reporting places her at the heart of the war, enduring situations of terrible violence on the battlefield, in the

hospital, and in prison, where she is on the verge of death. When she reunites with Eric, love blossoms between them. Meanwhile, her father passes away, leaving her an inheritance of land in the deep south of Chile, surrounded by forests, lakes, and volcanoes. The horrors of war do not reach her there, and soon she discovers that she belongs in that country, in that landscape.

Isabel Allende won worldwide acclaim in 1982 with the publication of her first novel, The House of the Spirits. Since then, she has authored a number of bestselling and critically acclaimed books including Violeta, A Long Petal of the Sea, Eva Luna and Paula. Her books have been translated into more than fifty-two languages and have sold more than seventy-seven million copies worldwide. In addition to her work as a writer, Allende devotes much of her time to human rights causes. In 1996, following the death of her daughter Paula Frias, she established a charitable foundation in her honor, which has awarded grants to more than one hundred nonprofits worldwide on behalf of women and girls. In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded Allende the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, and in 2018 she received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation. She has also received PEN Center USA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

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