June 09, 2006
'My Invented Country'
Memory and nostalgia can create beauty unimagined and unlived, and Isabel Allende’s novel ‘My Invented Country’ does that and more. She takes you into her throes of reminiscence and creates picturesque landscapes and vivid characters woven together in a memorable journey into her Chilean past.
The novel is a memoir of Isabel who is sharing her nostalgia about Chile, her homeland, and creating her very own Chile, her ‘invented country’, in her own mind; one that she left so many years ago to escape the atrocities of the Pinochet regime. The exposition is direct yet haunting and sets the reader on a voyage he cannot want out of. He comes out of it wondering about his own invented country; whether he has one and if it shares any commonalities with Isabel’s. The wondering doesn’t stop at that personal level. The reader, especially one who is an immigrant, wonders whether every immigrant carries an invented country in his heart, and if he does, then in fact, there are so many of us who carry this beautiful burden. Why do we all carry it? Why is it beautiful that we hold it so dear, and never want to part with it? Yet, why is it a burden that relegates itself to the mind? Does this burden, this invented country, ever disappear, get replaced, or suffer ruin? Why are the memories of a lost home so tantalizing? Is it because as exiles or immigrants we never really find our promised land, or even if we do, it always falls short of the home we left behind.
‘My Invented Country’ is a delightful read that satiates the senses through some colorful and frisky language. Its reminiscing tone soothes, yet, once you close the book, there's a spring of turbulent introspection let loose within the mind of the reader.