From the Chilean-American magical realist author of The House of the Spirits, a novel about two NYU professors and a Guatemalan nanny, thrown together during a Brooklyn blizzard, who find themselves with a body to dispose of.
Allende, as effervescent in her compassion, social concerns, and profound joy in storytelling as ever, brings both humor and intensity to this madcap, soulful, and transporting tale of three survivors who share their traumatic pasts while embarking on a lunatic mission of mercy ... Allende has a rare and precious gift for simultaneously challenging and entrancing readers by dramatizing with startling intimacy such dire situations as the desperation behind illegal immigration and domestic violence, then reveling, a page later, in spiritual visions or mischievous sexiness or heroic levity.
Devotees of Allende’s forays into magical realism will find the universe she creates here — an account of earthly lives lived in an earthly setting — more madcap and macabre ... What follows is a caper: cinematic in quality and marked by moments of reflection, yearning, terror and a bit of slapstick comedy ... While In the Midst of Winter lacks subtlety at points — the title, epigraph and ending dialogue all refer to the same Camus quotation — the novel delivers opportunities for the reader to ponder nuanced moral questions involving immigration policies and the administration of natural justice.
Each of Allende’s sentences curls into the next like a delicate arabesque. She is most at ease when describing the august romance that blooms between Richard and Lucia ... Allende’s characters’ lives are marked by tragedy — fate seems to have dealt them more than their fair share of darkness. But the book shines when she gives voice to the slow burn of mature love. Allende’s work can rely too heavily on stereotypes, substituting culture as a shorthand for character ... At times it seems the gravity of the plot is a bit lost on Allende and her characters. Readers who love Allende will find much to enjoy. This is a syntactically beautiful story with the twists and turns of a telenovela, and it has warmth at its center. It is a novel that touches some difficult topics: immigration, murder, spiritual belief, divorce and the death of children. Although she can sometimes take on too much, Allende writes connections well.