Magical Realism

The House of the Spirits is a semi-autobiographical novel by Chilean author Isabel Allende that was first published in 1982.  Clara del Valle the main character, has paranormal powers and she starts keeping a detailed diary of her life after the priest accused her of being possessed by the devil.  Clara can predict the future, interpret dreams, and move furniture around telekinetically.  The temporal structure of the novel is a flashback of a family saga that spans four generations of the Trueba family, however events are not recorded chronologically, which makes following the plot a bit complicated.   It focuses primarily on the lives of two women in the clan, Clara del Valle and Alba de Satigny, and the connection between them.  The story of this family is pieced together over fifty years, from the early twenties to about 1974, after Clara’s husband Esteban and her granddaughter Alba refer to these journals.

Clara starts out as a young girl, and she receives a new pet, which is an enormous dog that she names Barrabás.  Clara gets a premonition of an accidental death in her family, and not long after, her sister Rosa the Beautiful dies, after accidentally poisoned by a swig of brandy that an assassin intended for her father to take, a hopeful Senator running for office.  Clara watches the autopsy that is done on her sister and she is traumatized and stops speaking.  The man Rosa was about to marry, Esteban Trueba is a miner who lives in poverty.  Esteban is broken when Rosa dies, and he devotes his life to rebuilding his family’s no longer occupied estate and plantation.  The tenants fear Esteban’s iron fist, quick temper, and voracious sexual appetite, which tempts him to rape every peasant girl on the property and one of them is Pancha Garcia, who gives birth to their son, Esteban Garcia.

Esteban spends time at a local brothel where he meets an ambitious young prostitute named Tránsito Soto.  He lends her 50 pesos to seek her fortune in the big city, and she promises to repay him some day.  Esteban the elder goes back to the city after he receives a letter from his sister Férula with the news that their mother Dona Ester is dying.  When she passes away, he resolves to fulfill her dying wish for him to get married and have children in a nuclear family.  Esteban approaches the del Valles to request Clara’s hand in marriage.  Clara accepts, having just predicted her engagement two months before, and she finally comes out of the mute spell she was in for the last nine years.

Clara’s muteness and her psychic powers kept her from having any friends, but she grows up to be a charming but very odd young woman.  Clara and Esteban get married and they seem to get along OK, but Clara’s constant companion the dog Barrabás collapses with a knife in his back in the middle of their engagement party.  He dies in Clara’s lap, and gets blood all over her dress.  Clara becomes close friends with Esteban’s sister, Férula, and invites her to move into their new house, a colonial-style mansion that Esteban designs to look as European as possible.  Clara gets pregnant and has a baby girl named Blanca.  Clara gets pregnant again and she announces that she’s going to give birth to twins named Jaime and Nicolás, and Esteban gets mad that she doesn’t want to name one of the boys after him.  Esteban goes to a brothel in town called the Christopher Columbus and meets Tránsito Soto there, to his surprise.

Clara’s parents die in a car accident, and Clara’s mom Nívea is beheaded in the crash.  Pregnant Clara drags Férula out to find the head, and they return to the house just in time for Clara to give birth to her first child, Blanca.  Nana, the del Valle family maid, comes to live in the big house on the corner.  Clara starts to hold weekly séances, attended by all sorts of spiritual eccentrics, like the three Mora sisters, who become her close friends.  Férula’s feelings for Clara border on passionate love, and she and Esteban develop a rivalry over Clara’s affections, both being obsessed with Clara, and start to get jealous of each other.  Eventually Esteban catches Férula sleeping in bed with Clara, and kicks her out of the house.  Férula puts a curse on Esteban and disappears.  Blanca meets Pedro Tercero García the son of Pedro Segundo and they fall in love, but decide to keep their relationship a secret from Blanca’s family.

Blanca gets pregnant, but Esteban tells her there was a huge earthquake that he has killed Pedro Tercero and he forces her to marry the French count Jean de Satigny.  Blanca leaves the count and she gives birth to her daughter Alba.  Férula’s ghost appears to the family at dinner one night, so they know she’s dead.  Clara and Esteban find her body in the run-down apartment in which she’d been living.  Clara dies on Alba’s seventh birthday, after making all the necessary preparations, holding little Alba’s hand.  Alba grows up to be a solitary child, enjoying painting and imagining stories.  Having little money, Blanca joins a pottery shop to make ends meet by teaching handicapped children and she starts dating Pedro again.  I have had enough and if this story interests you, then go get the book.  I never read House of the Spirits and I probably never will, but mostly I hope that I didn’t make too many mistakes in my synopsis.

Today is the find Clara & Esteban from House of Spirits love theme on Love Is In Da Blog and we are asked to find an exotic love song and/or write a Katauta poem.  I think it would be exotic to bathe with someone in the sea, so I am choosing the Savage Garden song ‘Truly Madly Deeply’.  I would like to go to Belize and check out a Mayan sweat bath, which was a type of sacred sauna that they used to help keep themselves healthy and treat myself to this exotic purification ritual.  Savage Garden is a duo that formed in Logan City, Queensland, in 1994, and they achieved international success in the late 1990s and early 2000s with their two #1 hit singles, ‘I Knew I Loved You’, and ‘Truly Madly Deeply’.  Their other hits ‘To the Moon and Back’ reached #24, ‘Crash and Burn’ also got to #24, ‘The Animal Song’ went to #19 and ‘I Want You’ peaked at #4.  Savage Garden’s ‘Truly Madly Deeply’ is a great love song and the duo of Darren Hayes and Daniel Jones recorded this song in Sydney

After spending eight months away from his family and his then-wife while he was living in a one-bedroom apartment in Kings Cross with Daniel Jones to record this debut album, Hayes was inspired him to write a song that would express his feelings about life, but this song actually started out long before they began recording this album and it was originally called ‘Magical Kisses’, which the pair wrote together and then reworked into this tune.  The name Savage Garden was taken from the Anne Rice novel Memnoch the Devil (The Vampire Chronicles #5), specifically the passage, “In the Savage Garden you shine beautifully, my friend,” which describes the landscape inhabited by the vampire.  Darren Hayes and Daniel Jones had a seemingly uncanny ability to create pop hits, because of their shared devotion and love of music which brought the pair together, and their unique collaborative effort led to the creation of truly eclectic and exciting material.

Hayes writes melodies and lyrics, and Daniel Jones, the band’s guitarist and keyboardist, creates instrumental sound.  This passionate love song took off in America after a radio station in Dallas added it to their playlist and when it hit #1 in the US, it was the first Australian record in 15 years (since Men at Work) to achieve the US top position.  Savage Garden were one of the most successful Australian bands of all time, but in 2001 the band went out on top when they felt that they had lost the magic in their musical relationship.  Jones walked away and he has avoided the limelight ever since.

I’ll be your dream, I’ll be your wish, I’ll be your fantasy
I’ll be your hope, I’ll be your love, be everything that you need
I love you more with every breath truly, madly, deeply do
I will be strong, I will be faithful ‘cause I’m counting on
A new beginnin’
A reason for livin’
A deeper meaning, yeah

I wanna stand with you on a mountain
I wanna bathe with you in the sea
I wanna lay like this forever
Until the sky falls down on me

And when the stars are shining brightly in the velvet sky
I’ll make a wish, send it to heaven and make you want to cry
The tears of joy for all the pleasure and the certainty
That we’re surrounded by the comfort and protection
Of the highest powers
In lonely hours
The tears devour you

An’ I wanna stand with you on a mountain
I wanna bathe with you in the sea
I wanna lay like this forever
Until the sky falls down on me

Oh, can you see it, baby?
You don’t have to close your eyes
It’s standin’ right before you
All that you need will surely come

Ooh, yeah

I’ll be your dream, I’ll be your wish, I’ll be your fantasy
I’ll be your hope, I’ll be your love, be everything that you need
I’ll love you more with every breath truly, madly, deeply do

I wanna stand with you on a mountain
I wanna bathe with you in the sea
I wanna lay like this forever
Until the sky falls down on me

I wanna stand with you on a mountain
I wanna bathe with you in the sea
I want to live like this forever
Until the sky falls down on me

Written for Love Is In Da Blog 2021 Great Love Stories Clara & Esteban from House of Spirits love theme where we are asked to find an exotic love song and/or write a Katauta poem.

4 thoughts on “Magical Realism

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