It is after a long gap that I had a chance to read Isabel Allende again. In this book " Ines of my soul" Isabel has chosen a historical theme and has recreated the time of conquest and colonisation of Chile. The novel is based on a real-life Ines Suarez, who was one of the rare women who accompanied 110 conquistadores who founded Chile.
Ines is a not-so pretty daughter born in a lower middle class family. She falls in love with Juan de Malaga who teaches her the art of love-making. But Juan is given to gambling and womanising and is not meant for a quiet family life like the many characters of Jorge Amado of Brazil. He abandons Ines and goes away to the New World in search of fortune and adventure. Ines goes after him to the Americas and lands in Panama and later in Peru. The real reason is her quest for adventure rather than find the husband. Here she falls in love with Pedro de Valdivia, a war hero,who has a vision to conquer Chile and seek glory. Ines follows his expedition over the Andes and desert. Since both are already married, they live as lovers although he makes her as the Gobernadora of Chile. She gives crucial support for the expedition and later for establishing a settlement in Chile with her medical and other skills. When Pedro abandons her in order to comply with a judicial ruling, she marries Rodrigo, the loyal captain of Pedro who had been silently in love with her for several years. The story ends with the killing of Pedro by the Mapuche Indians of Chile in a battle.
Isabel has give a flavour of conquistadores, clergy, Indians and the Spanish royalty and the role they played in the conquest of Latin America. She has given fair space to the native Indians who fought against the Spanish conquerors unsuccessfully. Isabel says she did four years of research for this novel. One could see the fruits of that by the vivid accounts of the campaigns, the struggle between the Indians and the Spanish and the courage and adventurous spirit of the Spanish adventurers,who braved so much misery and suffering.
Ines has become yet another memorable adventurous and passionate latina character in my soul too. Ines says " a man does what he can; a woman does what a man cannot"... I have nothing to say....