Eva Luna Summary

Isabel Allende

Eva Luna

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Eva Luna Summary

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Eva Luna (1987), a novel by Chilean writer Isabel Allende, tells the story of Eva, an orphan growing up in a South American country that is not specifically named in the book. The time covers several decades during the twentieth century and the events, in the social and political contexts of the 1950s through the 1980s, suggest both Chile and Venezuela as locales that could have served as influences for the author who is Chilean and was exiled for a time to Venezuela. That experiences from her life help shape her fiction is typical of Allende’s work as her personal background and historical events are often comingled by the author.

Eva Luna was born the daughter of a servant in South America. Throughout the many difficult times that she was forced to face in her life, she showed perseverance in her quest for personal fulfillment. Eva’s mother, Consuelo, was saved by missionaries in the South American jungles. Eva was born of a brief encounter between her mother and the gardener employed by the same person for whom Consuelo worked. The gardener is bitten by a snake, and Consuelo helps and consoles him. This leads to them making love. Consuelo is happy to have experienced love in spite of the fact that once the gardener has fully recovered from his wound, he takes his leave.

The only person to assist Consuelo when she is giving birth to Eva in her room is the household cook who becomes Eva’s godmother. Professor Jones is the owner of the home where Consuelo works. The home is one of beauty, and Eva is loved as she is growing up. Among the things in the professor’s home are mummies that he makes. This prompts Consuelo to dream up stories to tell Eva so the girl will not fear the mummies. This instills an interest in fiction in Eva. Eva’s life takes a tragic turn when Consuelo dies. Her death is followed by the death of the professor as well. Eva’s godmother is unable to take care of her, so she finds herself alone in the world. Eventually, she meets Huberto Naranjo, who leads her to La Senora who runs a brothel.

Eva finds relative happiness for several years, but then a new chief of police takes over and raids the brothel. As Eva is on the run, she meets Riad Halabi with whom she moves to Agua Santa to live with him and Zulema his wife. After a few years, Riad’s cousin Kamal joins them. While Riad is away, Zulema is taken with Kamal and seduces him, prompting Kamal to leave at once. Zulema commits suicide by shooting herself. After spending one intimate night together, Riad sends Eva away, and she returns to the city. There she meets up with a transsexual she had known as Melecio who is now Mimi, and with Huberto Naranjo. Eva has relations with Huberto, who is the leader of a group of guerrillas fighting against a revolution. She values his friendship but does not consider him the one with whom she will spend her life.

Another narrative runs through the book parallel to the story Eva is telling from her perspective. The second narrative chronicles the life of Rolf Carle as he passes from childhood to adulthood. Readers learn from the beginning of this portion of the novel that Rolf is the man with whom Eva will ultimately fall in love and marry. Rolf is growing up in Eastern Europe and has an abusive father who is killed by local boys. After his father’s death, Rolf’s mother decides to send Rolf to live with his aunt and uncle in South America. Rolf grows up to be a journalist and meets Huberto and Eva through his work. He and Eva gradually develop a relationship while helping Huberto and his guerrillas free prisoners from jail in what is considered a subversive action. After this is completed they share their love for each other and decide that they will get married. They know that they have much in common having each had many disappointments and difficult situations to cope with in their lives.

The ability to create and tell stories is an important part of Eva’s character throughout the novel. She has been compared to Scheherazade whose storytelling facility kept her alive in the classic One Thousand and One Nights. It is her way of not being overwhelmed or disheartened by the reality of the world around her. She is able to escape by creating her own version of society, one that is easier for her to cope with than the harsh realities of post-World War II oppression in Latin America.