In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende


When I was reading In the Midst of Winter it started snowing heavily where I live and I remember walking around the city on my lunch break, listening to the book on Audible. I used to read a lot of Isabel Allende and I remember liking her books.

At the beginning of the book a snow storm paralyses New York. Richard’s car hits Evelyn’s but she quickly drives off. Later she appears at his door. Because she speaks Spanish and Richard has difficulty understanding her, he calls Lucia, his downstairs neighbour / tenant to help. As it turns out Evelyn took her bosses car without permission which wouldn’t be so bad if there wasn’t a dead body in the trunk. They can’t call the police since Evelyn is an illegal immigrant and would be deported, so Lucia and Richard decide to help her get rid of the body. This story is sort of a frame inside which we learn of the life histories of the three protagonists.

I had a slight problem with the relationship of the frame of the story with the personal destinies of the protagonists. The descriptions of winter are beautifully written, almost idyllic, the interactions between the three protagonists are nice, friendly, sometimes funny. There's romance and there's a murder mystery and a happily ever after feeling at the end. Inside of the frame we read about revolutions, violence, victims of abuse, illegal immigrations, people trafficking, drugs … These difficult stories should be thought provoking, but sadly, for me they weren't. The world we live in seems to be the one where on the surface, people are happy, while beneath it all sorts of horrible things keep happening. Up to a point I perceived this book as similar. Perhaps Allende intended to point out that everything is not peachy, perhaps she wanted the reader to think about the aftermath of historical events in Chile and Guatemala, the current situation in the USA concerning illegal (and legal) immigrants, but I just wasn’t convinced. I found the frame too strong, which made the book a bit sugary.

I went into this book with a memory of Allende's older works in mind. However, I read her books ten, fifteen years ago, so it just might be a problem of expectations. Perhaps back then my reading tastes were different, perhaps I expected different things from literature. Anyway, it wasn't a bad read, but it wasn't a satisfying one either and it's starting to fade from my memory pretty quickly. In the Midst of Winter can be read as a nice and beautifully written story. If you think real life is full of difficult stories (you only have to turn on the news) and want something not too demanding to read, go ahead and read this book. It’s enjoyable enough. Otherwise, it might not be for you.

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V času, ko sem brala In the Midst of Winter (Sredi zime) je ravno snežilo. Med odmorom za malico sem se sprehajala po Tivoliju in poslušala avdio verzijo knjige. Pred leti sem prebrala vse knjige Isabel Allende, ki so jih imeli v knjižnici in spominjam se, da so mi bile všeč.

Na začetku izvemo, da je snežna nevihta povzročila kaos v New Yorku, zaradi česar se Richard zaleti v Evelynin avto. Evelyn prestrašena odpelje, vendar se čez čas pojavi pred njegovimi vhodnimi vrati. Ker govori špansko in je Richard ne razume, pokliče Lucio, ki stanuje v stanovanju pod njim in jo prosi za pomoč. Izkaže se, da je Evelyn brez dovoljenja vzela šefov avto, kar pa niti ne bi bilo tako hudo, če v prtljažniku ne bi bilo trupla. Policije ne pokličejo, saj je Evelyn ilegalna priseljenka in bi jo deportirali. Lucia in Richard se tako odločita, da ji pomagata znebiti se trupla. Ta zgodba je neke vrste okvir, znotraj katerega se odvijejo njihove osebne usode iz preteklosti.

Ravno z okvirjem sem imela rahle težave, pravzaprav z razmerjem okvirja in osebnih zgodb znotraj njega. Opisi zime so lepo napisani, skoraj idilični, Lucia, Evelyn in Richard so prijetna družba. Kljub zimi in truplu v prtljažniku, se zgodita ljubezen in prijateljstvo, vse skupaj pa zaključi nekaj podobnega pravljičnemu srečnemu koncu. Znotraj okvirja beremo o revoluciji, nasilju in njegovih žrtvah, ilegalnih migrantih, trgovini z ljudmi, mamilih … Te težke zgodbe bi morale dati misliti, vendar meni, na žalost, niso. Družba, v kateri živimo je takšna, da želimo biti vsi srečni, medtem ko se pod površjem nenehno odvijajo tragične stvari. Do neke mere se mi je zdela tudi knjiga taka. Morda je Allendejeva na ta način namenoma želela poudariti, da ni vse na svetu krasno, morda je želela, da bi bralec razmislil o posledicah dogodkov v Čilu in Gvatemali, o trenutni problematiki ilegalnih (pa tudi legalnih) priseljencev v ZDA … Če je, me ni prepričala. Okvir se mi je zdel premočan, zgodba pa zaradi tega rahlo osladna.

Priznam, da sem to knjigo brala z mislijo na starejša dela Isabel Allende, ki pa sem jih brala deset, petnajst let nazaj, tako da gre verjetno za problem pričakovanj. Morda sem takrat drugače brala, morda sem od literature pričakovala druge stvari. Pravzaprav knjiga ni slaba, hkrati pa me ni ravno navdušila pa še hitro mi beži iz spomina. Sredi zime se lahko bere kot lepo napisan roman. Če mislite, da je življenje že tako polno težkih tem (samo poročila je treba poslušati) in bi radi brali nekaj ne preveč zahtevnega, jo definitivno preberite, sploh ni slaba. V nasprotnem primeru pa morda ni za vas.



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