The Sum of Our Days
by Isabel Allende
translated from Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden
This is the third volume of memoir that Allende wrote, which is perhaps an odd place to jump into someone’s life. When I bought this I was attracted purely by her name, after having read and loved House of the Spirits. But it was made extra odd by the circumstances in which this book was written. Allende’s daughter Paula died in 1992. The following year she published her second memoir Paula, mostly written while Paula lay in a coma that they knew she probably wouldn’t wake up from. She started writing this third memoir after Paula’s death and addresses it directly to her daughter, updating her on the extended family as if she had moved away rather than died.
Allende talks candidly about her writing process, her relationships, her hopes and fears, along with all the details of her life. And Allende’s life is surprisingly eventful. Admittedly, this book covers 13 years but the big stuff all happens in the first couple of years following Paula’s death.