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Allende Reimagines Life of Conquistador 'Ines'

by Melissa Block
Nov 6, 2006 (All Things Considered)

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Writer Isabel Allende creates strong female characters in her books, the most famous of which is The House of the Spirits.

Her latest novel, Ines of My Soul, is the fictionalized account of the life of Ines Suarez, a 16th-century Spanish seamstress who goes on to play a role in the founding of Chile, Allende's native country.

The details of Suarez's unique story — she was the only Spanish woman among the conquistadors who went to Chile in 1540 — have been largely lost to time.

Allende's novel re-creates Suarez's life, and the violent clash between two civilizations: the Spanish conquerors and the native Chilean indians.

"For me as a writer, I had to take both sides. I come from both cultures, so I can understand both and I feel entitled to speak for both," Allende says.

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