WHAT BOOK would author Isabel Allende take to a desert island?

WHAT BOOK would author Isabel Allende take to a desert island?

  • Isabel Allende says she usually has three books around: print, Kindle and audio
  • She is currently reading Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
  • The novelist would take the Encyclopedia Britannica on a desert island with her

…are reading now?

I usually have three books around: one in print, one on audio, plus my Kindle.

In print, I am reading Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr, four stories interwoven by a master storyteller. It’s 650 pages long and heavy — I should have it on my Kindle, but it’s the kind of story in which I can easily get lost; I need to mark some pages and go back often.

I am listening to The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason, a fabulous novel about the Great War. War stories are not my thing, but this one is beautifully told and is not about battles; it’s about grief and love.

Chilean-American author isabel Allende, pictured in 2017, says she is reading Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr at the moment 

On my Kindle I am reading The Marriage Of Opposites by Alice Hoffman, an author I always enjoy. It’s a very interesting story about the Pizarro family in the island of Saint Thomas in the 1800s.

Camille Pissarro, the impressionist painter, was a member of that family of Jewish merchants. He changed the spelling of his name to make it more French.

…would you take to a desert island?

I grew up in my grandfather’s house; the old man had 30-something volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica, which he read from A to Z. That’s what I would take to a desert island for information, plus a good outdoor camping manual to survive in the wilderness.

And for entertainment I would choose One Thousand And One Nights, which I read as a teenager hiding in my step-father’s armoire. It was supposed to be erotic, so it was forbidden for me. Eroticism is important on a desert island.

…first gave you the reading bug?

I can’t remember when exactly I developed the reading vice, but maybe it was when one of my uncles gave me The Call Of The Wild by Jack London. As a dog lover, I suffered horribly with Buck’s fate. My uncle bought all of Jack London’s books for me. And then I started with Agatha Christie, Oscar Wilde, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and so forth.

…left you cold?

Many books have left me cold and I decided 50 years ago that life is too short and too interesting to waste time reading something to which I can’t relate emotionally or intellectually.

As a child, I was expected to read the Bible at school. It was compulsory. I could never warm up to it.

Violeta by Isabel Allende is published by Bloomsbury, £16.99.

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