|THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS by Isabell Allende
The plot of the novel stretches from the 30s of our century to the present. The story is about two families of the chilean upper class, the Truebas and the Del Valles (spricht man übrigens dell vajes aus).
Esteban Trueba – whose father was a drunkard and a gambler and lost all his money - decides to seek his luck in the goldmines in the nord of the country. He hopes to get rich as fast as possible to be able to marry the beautiful Rosa del Valle. Rosas sister Clara – who was some kind of strange since her childhood – develops - in the time when Esteban is working in the mines – a clear-sighted abillity (=hellseherische Fähigkeit). Her father Severo – who is very interested in politics – hopes that she will lose her strange gift when she becomes older – but it turns out to be right the other way round: One day she announces the sudden death of somebody – this somebody turns out be her own sister – Rosa.
To escape from the past Esteban decides to move to the mansion (=Gutshof) of his family. Although it’s the middle of the century all people there live like slaves. All people belong to the patron and serve him for their whole lives. He had never known another social structure and considers this one as the best for all participants. He cares for them as well as they care for him but all people fear his anger and his sexual ecapades (=sexuelle Eskapaden). There’s hardly no young woman in the area that has no child from him or hasn’t seen his bedroom. But they don’t offer any resistance (sie leisten keinen Widerstand) because it always had been that way and you had to forgive things like that when it was your patron.
Clara – who stopped speaking after Rosa’s death and only communicates with signs grows more and more eccentric. Claras parents Nivea and Severo del Valle want all their children to marry exept Clara whose abilties nobody should discover. They are even more surprised when they hear Clara announing her intention to marry Esteban Trueba – who lives hundreds of kilometres away – he doesn’t want to live on the mansion for the rest of his life. Everybody agrees with the marriage between Clara and Esteban and soon they celebrate their engagement. Esteban – who meanwhile had become rich – decides to build a house in the city and to concentrate more on speculative operations (= Spekulationsgeschäfte) than on farming.
He and Clara have 3 children and are married luckily – as it seems for outsiders. But actually there are several family tragedies – often when Esteban forbids Clara’s strange sessions. Esteban’s unmarried sister Feruela tries to keep her brother away from his wife – with the consequence that she’s thrown out of the house.
Every summer the family returns to the huge mansion where Clara’s daughter Blanca falls in love with the young communist Terenco Garcia. Esteban – who despises (verachten) as a conservative senator all kinds of socialism – scares him away and threatens him that he would kill him should he return to see his daughter again. After an earthquake – in which Esteban gets heavily hurt – they start meeting again. The relationship to his wife Clara develops in such a bad way that one day she swears not to speak any word with him again.
Both their sons Jaime („chreime“) and Nicolas are in the eyes of their father good for nothing because they stand up for left parties. After Nicolas becomes a member of an asian sect his father sends him to Canada where he becomes a Guru and earns a lot of money.
Jaime works as a doctor at a hospital for poor people in Santiago de Chile where he earns at least the money he needs to survive.
After a long secretly kept relationship between Blanca and Terenco Garcia they get a baby. In great anger Esteban – who thinks he can’t afford such scandals as a senator - attacks Terenco who then flees to Santiago to become a famous musican.
One day Clara gets premonitions (=Vorahnungen) about her death. She feels it near but she isn’t frightend because she knows the spirits from the other side as well as her own childern.
After Clara’s death only Senator Esteban Trueba, Blanca and her daughter Alba remain in the house in Santiago. The old Senator still fights all Comunists and invests a lot of money in the election campaign – and in the
corupting (=bestechen) of other people. One day the comunists win the elections and Trueba’s enemy Garcia – the father of his granddaughter Alba becomes a minister. The right orientated parties decide – with the help of the USA – to corupt all truck drivers in Chile with the consequence that the poverty under the communist’s reign increases.
The military takes advantage of the situation and putsches the communist government. They shoot the president and redo communist reforms. After they refuse elections and arrest his son Jaime and shot him Senator Tueba – who first was for the military – recognices that he had been deceived (=getäuscht). For the first time in his 85 year lasting life he feels that he was defeated.
He makes it up with his daughter Blanca and his former enemy Garcia and smuggles them both out of the country. Every month he sends them a check with the money from his businesses.
His granddaughter Alba is the only one who stays in Chile and so he takes very much care of her and even allows her to hide guerilleros in the house in Santiago. But one day they are discovered and Alba gets arrested and gets tortured. Only with a help of a friend Esteban gets her out of prison.After that Alba and Esteban Trueba start writting down their biography and when they finish the old man feels his dead close. His mind though (trotzem) remained clear to the very last moment and finally he dies in his own house – in the same room like his wife Clara.