Ines of My Soul, Isabel Allende, HarperCollins Publishers, 2006, 313 pp
This is Allende's latest novel and I can still say that I have read all her novels written for adults. While I loved her earlier novels the best, I continue to like her stories, plus at least one of my favorite authors is still writing novels.
Ines was born poor and lower class in Spain in the 16th century. She was skilled as a seamstress and a cook, but she was also interested in men, sex and adventure; in other words, a typical Allende heroine. These skills and interests led her to the New World, specifically Peru and Chile. As mistress to Pedro de Valdivia, she became a co-founder of Chile as a Spanish conquest.
This is historical fiction in the classic mode with plenty of romance and daring. The ways of Spanish conquest are fully exposed with just enough sympathy for the conquered Incas and native Indians to make it clear that while the conquerors do what they must, it is done at the expense of other human beings, cultures and natural resources.
Allende tells the story and bears witness to the sources of societal and political madness that continue to this day, all without one boring paragraph. She is a master storyteller.