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The House of the Spirits

The House of the Spirits Summary


Here you will find a The House of the Spirits summary (Isabel Allende's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

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Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

The House of the Spirits Summary Overview

From the day a priest accused Clara del Valle of demonic possession, and her Uncle Marcos's corpse arrived at her home with a puppy named Barrabás, she started recording her life's events in a journal. Later in life, her husband Esteban and granddaughter Alba would use these journals to trace their family's history. Clara, who possessed clairvoyant abilities to predict but not alter the future, witnessed the death of her beloved sister Rosa, who was accidentally poisoned. After Rosa's death, Clara lived a mute life for nine years. Meanwhile, Esteban, previously engaged to Rosa, earned a fortune by exploiting labor and sexual favors from the local peasants, including Pancha and prostitutes like Transito Soto. After his mother's death, Esteban marries Clara, and they move into a grand house built by Esteban, where his sister Ferula also resides. Clara and Esteban's first child, Blanca, was born a year after their marriage. During a vacation at Esteban's estate, Tres Marias, Blanca falls in love with Pedro Tercero, a peasant's son. Clara becomes pregnant with twins, Jaime and Nicolas. A tragic car accident takes Clara's parents' life, and she finds herself in labor shortly after recovering her mother's decapitated head from the accident site. Ferula, deeply infatuated with Clara, is ousted from the house by Esteban who discovers her in Clara's bed. As Blanca grows older, she continues her clandestine romance with Pedro Tercero, despite Esteban's discontentment over their class difference and Pedro's revolutionary ideas. Their affair is eventually exposed, leading to Blanca moving out of Tres Marias and Esteban severing all communication with Clara. Years later, Blanca becomes pregnant and is manipulated into marrying Jean de Satigny by her father, who falsely claims to have killed Pedro Tercero. After ending her marriage due to Jean's deviant sexual tendencies, Blanca gives birth to Alba. Despite political turmoil in the country, Alba, under the belief that Jean is her deceased father, develops a close bond with Esteban. She later attends university, falls in love with a revolutionary named Miguel, and gets involved in anti-conservative protests. The socialist victory in the elections, leading to the peasants seizing Tres Marias and Esteban's capture, further complicates the family's situation. Blanca and Pedro Tercero, with Esteban's reluctant assistance, escape to Canada amidst a military coup. Alba, abducted by Esteban Garcia, the grandson of Pancha and Esteban Trueba, is eventually released with the help of Transito Soto. Following Esteban's death, a pregnant Alba continues writing their family's story.

chapter 1

On a religious holiday, Severo del Valle, his wife Nivea, and their eleven offspring attend a church service in hopes of boosting Severo's political image. Their youngest, Clara, causes a scene by questioning Father Restrepo's sermon, leading to her being accused of devil possession, and the family makes a quick exit. Each member of the del Valle family is distinctive—Nivea, a fervent women's rights activist; Rosa, their eldest daughter, renowned for her beauty; and Clara, a psychic child. They live in luxury with help from their housekeeper, Nana. Rosa, despite her breathtaking looks, has had few admirers. One admirer is Esteban Trueba, a poor suitor from a formerly prominent family. He proposes to Rosa and leaves to make a fortune in mines before they marry. Rosa spends her days embroidering mythical creatures on a tablecloth. Their swift exit from the church is followed by an unexpected arrival—the corpse of Uncle Marcos, Nivea's adventurous brother and Clara's beloved uncle. Despite his previous brushes with death, Marcos is indeed dead this time. Clara adopts Marcos' surviving puppy, Barrabas. When Severo is selected as the Liberal Party's candidate for a southern province, the family celebrates. Clara prophesizes a looming death in the family, and shortly after, Rosa takes ill. Despite following the doctor's advice, Rosa dies mysteriously. An autopsy reveals that the alcohol Severo had been gifted was spiked with poison. The tragedy leaves Clara so traumatized that she becomes mute. Esteban learns of Rosa's death and is heartbroken. He bribes the groundskeeper at the cemetery to let him stay by Rosa's tomb throughout the night, unable to accept her death.

chapter 2

Following Rosa's demise, Esteban retreats to his family residence where his mother, Dona Ester Trueba, and sister, Ferula, live. Bedridden with severe arthritis, Dona Ester relies on Ferula for constant care. This situation exacerbates Esteban's sour disposition. Ferula's dedication to her mother's care is a double-edged sword; she resents the freedom Esteban has to leave the family home, while she must stay. Dona Ester's marriage was a social downgrade, fueled by love. Her spouse was reckless with their dowry, wasting it on an attempt to transform a rural property, Tres Marias, into a lavish estate. To support his family after Rosa's death, Esteban needs income. He vows to provide for his mother and Ferula, refusing to return to the mines. He decides to revive Tres Marias, against Ferula's counsel. Esteban discovers Tres Marias in a state of neglect. The remaining residents, mostly women, children, and the elderly, barely make a living. A man named Pedro Segundo Garcia, who oversaw the estate while the Truebas were away, is one of the few men left. Esteban invests his savings intended for his wedding in Tres Marias. The laborious task of restoring the estate begins, slowly yielding results. With more free time, Esteban becomes aware of his intense sexual desires. He assaults a young peasant girl, Pancha Garcia, and forces her to live in the main house as his housekeeper and mistress. Through Pancha, Esteban begins to take interest in the peasants. He establishes a school and plans to improve their living conditions, but without equating them to his status. He introduces a voucher payment system for the peasants, which they can also use at his store. Pancha's pregnancy lessens Esteban's interest in her. He starts abusing other peasant girls. Over time, Tres Marias transforms into one of the wealthiest estates in the region. Despite their dissatisfaction with Esteban's treatment, the workers' pleas for fair wages, led by Pedro Segundo, fall on deaf ears. Esteban continues his sexual exploitation, fathering many unacknowledged children, except for Pancha's son, who carries his first name. Esteban gets involved in politics with other local estate owners. They introduce him to a brothel, The Red Lantern. Though he prefers young girls, he takes a liking to a prostitute named Transito Soto. When he offers her a gift, Transito asks for fifty pesos to relocate to the capital. He obliges, and she promises to repay him someday. By offering rewards and intimidation, the Conservative Party clinches the elections.

chapter 3

In an effort to discover why Clara has ceased speaking, Severo and Nivea summon a multitude of doctors. However, none of their efforts prove fruitful. Nana then resorts to using scare tactics, hoping to force Clara to cry out, but to no avail. Due to her silence, Clara is taken out of school and educated at home. She keeps her thoughts in journal entries and communicates through a chalkboard. Her ability to correctly interpret dreams becomes known, and she is sought after for her insights. Far from losing her abilities as she ages, Clara's clairvoyance appears to grow stronger. Despite Severo's disapproval and attempt to stop her activities, Nivea fully supports her. Upon turning nineteen, Clara breaks her silence, announcing her impending marriage to Rosa's fiancé. Her family is more shocked by her speaking than by her announcement. Esteban comes home to see his house in disrepair and his sister, Ferula, aged and bitter. His mother, Dona Ester, implores him to settle down, and he agrees. On his visit to the del Valle house in search of a bride, his mother passes away. He then proposes to Clara, who despite her quirks, he is drawn to. Clara agrees to marry him, though not out of love, but due to a premonition of her destiny. During their engagement celebration, Barrabas is fatally stabbed, leading to an abrupt end to the festivities. In the upcoming year, Clara's trousseau is prepared, and Esteban constructs a house for them in the city, which is referred to as "the big house on the corner”. Ferula, realizing Clara's lack of domestic skills, proposes she live with them. Clara agrees and the two form a strong bond. After their wedding and honeymoon, the couple settles in their new home. It soon becomes clear that Clara is expecting a child, and Ferula takes on the role of caregiver, much like Nana did when she was young.

chapter 4

Around three years old, Blanca encounters Pedro Tercero Garcia in Tres Marias and they instantaneously fall for each other. Clara spends her time teaching the local women about the importance of education, health care, and gender inequality while enjoying her stay at Tres Marias. Esteban is unhappy with Clara's efforts, but she disregards his anger. Contrastingly, Ferula isn't pleased with her stay at Tres Marias. Despite her anxiety, she refuses to separate from Clara, whom she loves deeply. Tres Marias later suffers an ant infestation. Despite hiring an expert, Esteban resorts to Pedro Garcia's simple solution of just asking the ants to leave, which surprisingly works. Following another pregnancy, Clara falls silent and they return to the city for better medical facilities. She eventually speaks to reveal the names of her twins, Jaime and Nicolas, angering Esteban for not choosing his name. He visits a brothel in anger and reunites with Transito Soto, a prostitute with ambitions of starting a cooperative of sex workers. Soon after, Clara's parents, Severo and Nivea del Valle, die in a tragic accident where Nivea's head goes missing. Despite attempts to hide this news from Clara, she discovers it through her visions. She also locates Nivea's missing head, which was overlooked during the rescue. Clara goes into labor on the way home and Ferula delivers the twins. They store Nivea's head in a hatbox in the basement, a secret only known by Clara, Ferula, and Esteban. Lastly, Nana moves in with Clara, Esteban, and the twins. Nana and Ferula take over the household responsibilities as Clara focuses on her friendship with the three Mora sisters. Unaware of the competition for her affection between Nana, Ferula, and Esteban, Clara continues to immerse herself in her spiritualist pursuits.

chapter 5

Despite the challenges of family conflict and natural disasters, Blanca and Pedro Tercero Garcia's love for each other intensifies as they grow older. At the age of thirteen, Blanca's adolescence sparks changes in their relationship, but it only strengthens their bond. Blanca expresses her desire to marry Pedro in the future, despite the societal differences between them. Their relationship remains a secret to everyone else. In the winter season, Ferula passes away. The news of her death is revealed to Clara through Ferula's spirit, who visits her to say goodbye. Clara, along with Esteban, locates Ferula's body with the assistance of Father Antonio. They find out that Ferula lived in extreme poverty in the city, disregarding Esteban's financial help and living off discarded clothing from the trash. Ferula's rejection of Esteban's money makes him feel guilty, but he misdirects it as anger towards her, failing to see that it was this anger that pushed Clara away from him. Clara takes up the task of washing and burying Ferula. By the following summer, Pedro Tercero also steps into adolescence which coincides with his development as a revolutionary thinker. Blanca and Pedro's secret meetings become a nightly ritual, and they craft complicated coded communication systems. This continues for three years until a devastating earthquake shakes the entire country. The earthquake destroys everything at Tres Marias, and Esteban is critically injured. Bedridden for months, he eventually has to use a wheelchair. In the city, Nana dies out of fear. The aftermath of the earthquake leads to extreme poverty and disease. Clara starts taking care of mundane tasks and along with Pedro Segundo Garcia, takes on the rebuilding of Tres Marias. The children return to their school in the city. However, after a few months, Blanca tricks the nuns into believing she has tuberculosis to return to Tres Marias. Clara keeps her occupied with chores while Pedro Garcia teaches her pottery. Her nativity scenes become well-known. Esteban's attitude worsens during his confinement and Clara's indifference towards him turns into active disdain. Blanca also becomes aware of her father's escalating violence.

chapter 6

Recovering from the earthquake, the Trueba family remains at Tres Marias while Clara distances herself from Esteban. She returns to her teaching and predictions, securing housekeeping help and further isolating herself from Esteban who remains hopelessly in love with her. Newcomer Count Jean de Satigny attempts to woo Blanca while proposing a chinchilla farm venture to her father, Esteban. Jaime and Nicolas, Blanca's brothers, arrive for the summer, with Jaime deepening his friendship with Pedro Tercero over their shared passion for social justice, while Nicolas is engrossed in exploring his mother's psychic abilities and his romantic conquests. The death of old Pedro Garcia brings his grandson, Esteban Garcia, into focus. The illegitimate child of Esteban Trueba, he harbors a deep resentment for his grandfather and dreams of inheriting Tres Marias. The death also marks Pedro Tercero's secret return to Tres Marias and the realization of Blanca's pregnancy, mistaken as growing femininity by most. Despite knowing of Blanca's secret rendezvous, the Count treads on his pursuit for Blanca's hand in marriage, using her relationship as leverage. Upon discovering her affair with Pedro Tercero, Esteban Trueba vents out his anger on Blanca and promises to kill Pedro. Clara's defense of the lovers' actions upsets Esteban who lashes out at her, causing an irrevocable silence between them. Within days, Clara and Blanca leave for the city, followed by Pedro Segundo. Esteban's hunt for Pedro Tercero, aided by his own grandson, Esteban Garcia, results in severe injury for Pedro but not his death. Esteban denies his grandson the promised reward, labeling him a traitor instead.

chapter 7

Upon returning to the city, Clara immerses Blanca in household duties and dives back into her psychic practices with the Mora sisters and various other individuals. Jaime and Nicolas rejoin their family after completing high school; Jaime starts medical school and Nicolas embarks on a quest to find "his destiny". Clara, despite not being very involved in her sons' lives, forms a pleasant rapport with them as adults. When Jaime realizes Blanca is expecting a baby, he confides in Clara, who was already aware. Nicolas insists on informing their father, who reacts less violently than before but still forces Blanca to marry Jean de Satigny in return for financial benefits. The lavish wedding hides Blanca's pregnancy from the public. After the ceremony, Esteban sends the newlyweds to the North, but not before Clara assures Blanca that she believes Pedro Tercero is still alive. Staying in the city, Esteban plunges into politics with the Conservative Party while maintaining a distant relationship with Clara who’s living in the same house. Nicolas starts teaching Flamenco, but when Esteban puts a stop to it, he turns to smoking hashish, unnoticed. His girlfriend Amanda and her young brother Miguel often stay at the Trueba house. Jaime, unlike his twin, lives a simple life, dedicates himself to his medical studies, and helps the needy from his hospital, even bringing some home for Clara to care for. He secretly harbors feelings for Amanda. Esteban campaigns for a Senate seat and seeks Clara's silent endorsement, which she grants. However, even after his victory, he feels disconnected from his family and notices a gradual decrease in his physical stature, leading him to consult U.S. doctors who declare it a figment of his imagination. Meanwhile, Pedro Tercero, aided by Father Jose Dulce Maria, recovers from his injuries and moves to the city, persisting in his revolutionary endeavors and maintaining his friendship with Jaime. To distance himself from his father's politics, Jaime considers changing his surname, causing an initial resistance from Esteban, which eventually fades. In his obsession with unusual hobbies, Nicolas neglects Amanda and realizes her absence after several weeks. Finding her pregnant and living in poverty with her young brother, he agrees to help her get an abortion. Despite his incomplete medical education, Jaime performs the procedure, providing care for Amanda and despite Nicolas’s aloofness. Amanda and Miguel are still staying with the Trueba family when Blanca's daughter Alba is born.

chapter 8

Blanca and Jean de Satigny's marital relationship is unconventional, with Jean openly disinterested in marital intimacy. The pair share a platonic relationship and move to an old, abandoned villa in the country's far North after their honeymoon. Blanca fills her days by writing letters to her mother, Clara, and bonding with her unborn child. Jean develops eccentric behaviors such as drug use and questionable employment of indigenous servants. His secretive financial management and exclusion of Blanca from his photography studio bother her, but she tolerates it. Jean begins a surreptitious trade in Indian antiquities, even incorporating mummies into their home. Blanca becomes uneasy about the mummies, suspecting their house is haunted. Jean vehemently denies this. Blanca investigates one night on hearing strange noises. She later manages to break into Jean's studio and discovers that the noises were from Jean and his indigenous employees involved in "distressing erotic scenes", which they documented photographically. Fearing the impact on her soon-to-be-born child, Blanca leaves the villa nine months pregnant and heads to the city.

chapter 9

Blanca reaches her family home at the brink of childbirth. With the help of Jaime, Clara, and Amanda, she gives birth to Alba, who has Pedro Tercero Garcia's eyes. Despite carrying Jean de Satigny's surname, Alba takes on the name of Trueba. Blanca informs her that Jean de Satigny, her official father, lost his life in the desert. When Amanda departs from the house after two weeks, Jaime does not follow her, causing a rift between him and Nicolas. Alba is deeply loved by the family, including Esteban, and benefits from their diverse teachings. Nicolas instructs her in unconventional religion and medicine, Clara educates her in reading and spiritual communication, while Jaime gives her access to his private library. At the age of four, Alba sees Nicolas depart for a year-long spiritual journey to India. Alba has a special bond with Esteban, as she is the sole family member to whom he can freely express his love. They spend prolonged periods at Tres Marias. However, even as a child, Alba questions the fairness of Esteban's treatment of the workers. Despite her criticism, he does not alter his actions. Meanwhile, Esteban faces increasing tension with the rest of the family. Blanca sustains herself financially by teaching ceramics and selling homemade craftwork, while residing in her parents' house. She turns down financial help from her father and engages in romantic relationships with multiple suitors. Alba fears her mother might leave with a suitor until she meets Pedro Tercero. Blanca introduces Alba to Pedro Tercero, whose revolutionary music they admire. Alba develops an appreciation for Pedro Tercero's music, much to Esteban's displeasure. Despite Pedro Tercero's wishes, Blanca is unable to leave her family for him. Esteban Garcia seeks an audience with Esteban Trueba, and in his absence, he encounters Alba, whose presence stirs his jealousy and lust. In a fit of madness, he tries to assault her. He only snaps out of it when Alba nonchalantly responds to his lewd question. When Esteban Trueba arrives, Esteban Garcia requests a recommendation for the police academy, which Esteban Trueba provides unwittingly. As Alba approaches her seventh birthday, Clara senses her impending death. She prepares the family for her departure, emphasizing that death is part of life's cycle and ensures them that she won't really leave. Clara passes away on Alba's birthday, surrounded by her family.

chapter 10

Esteban shares the bed with Clara on the night she passes away, noticing he has become more frail. He feels a sense of peace, believing their differences have been mended. He plans a grand funeral for her, creating a mausoleum to house Clara, Rosa the Beautiful, and himself, symbolizing their unity in death. To do this, he and Jaime covertly remove Rosa's body from the del Valle family grave. With Clara gone, the grand corner house falls into decline. The once vibrant flowers wither, the structure decays, and the family becomes distant. Blanca still inhabits the house and tries to preserve it, but the sporadic funds offered by her father aren't sufficient. Despite her efforts to prevent total ruin, she's forced to borrow money from various sources. Nicolas starts demanding payment from his spiritual followers, earning enough to rent a location for his group, the Institute for Union with Nothingness. When Esteban discovers Alba has joined them and shaved her head, he loses his temper with Nicolas. This results in Nicolas protesting naked in front of the Congress, which shocks Esteban into a heart attack. After his recovery, he exiles Nicolas from the country, providing him with enough money to ensure he stays away. Once Alba's hair regrows, Esteban enrolls her in a British girls' school, believing the ability to speak English crucial. Despite her dislike for the school, he insists she remains there for a decade. Alba, troubled by nightmares after Clara's passing, is allowed to move into Blanca's room, leading to a stronger bond between them. Blanca begins reading to Alba from Uncle Marcos's books and sharing family lore each night, emulating Clara's tradition. In his political career, Esteban is convinced of a communist insurgence that must be suppressed, but his concerns are largely dismissed. Despite the mockery, he gains significant notoriety and consistently wins re-election. After Pedro Segundo's exit and Clara's death, Tres Marias becomes less productive. Though Esteban won't part with Tres Marias due to its sentimental value, he neglects it. Pedro Tercero continues to see Blanca, often with Alba, who grows to love him without realizing he is her father. Pedro regularly invites Blanca to move in with him, but she declines, preferring to preserve the romanticized version of their relationship. Jaime and Pedro Tercero also maintain a strong friendship.

chapter 11

In her late teens, Alba attends university and falls for fellow student and activist, Miguel. Both are unaware of their families' intertwined past and Miguel's presence at Alba's birth. Alba, under Miguel's influence, participates in student activism, including a university occupation. During the protest, Alba falls ill and is escorted out by Esteban Garcia, a police officer. Garcia reveals Alba's familial connection to Senator Trueba to Miguel and triggers painful memories of assault for Alba. Miguel, unfazed by Alba's grandfather's political stance, deepens his relationship with her. Their love is passionate and all-consuming for a year before they resume their individual pursuits. Miguel, foreseeing his future dedication to the revolution, refrains from living together. In the past, Jaime had stumbled upon the Socialist party's Candidate during a medical visit. Their friendship develops over the years, with the Candidate repeatedly failing to win the presidency. Despite the disbelief of others, the Candidate predicts a socialist victory in the upcoming elections. Miguel, however, predicts insignificant changes even with a socialist win. The dirty campaign strategies of the Conservative parties prompt Jaime to leave the family home and camp at the hospital he works at. Jaime is the only person Alba confides in about Miguel. Despite feeling a pinch of fatherly jealousy, Jaime maintains their secrecy. When Miguel's sister falls sick, Jaime is asked to examine her. Jaime is shocked to recognize the sister as Amanda, a woman from his past. Although it has been twenty years, Jaime only reveals that he knew Amanda from before. Amanda, severely ill and unable to recognize Jaime, is recommended for hospitalization and detox.

chapter 12

The surprise electoral victory of the socialists sparks widespread jubilation, while the Conservatives, under Esteban's guidance, swiftly recover from their shock to launch a multi-faceted strategy aimed at sabotaging the new administration. This includes withdrawal of their wealth from the nation and cessation of production and transport of crucial goods. Despite the inconvenience, the socialists and the populace remain undeterred. This leads Esteban to gear up for a military coup. Meanwhile, Pedro Tercero reluctantly finds himself in a key governmental role following the socialists' triumph. Blanca and Pedro Tercero's relationship persists, their love undiminished although age and greater responsibilities have quelled their passion. Pedro Tercero's insistence on marriage is flippantly dismissed by Blanca, who later regrets not taking him seriously when he threatens to leave her. She chooses not to confide in anyone about her distress. The conservatives' actions prompt a nationwide economic crisis, forcing Blanca and others to resort to alternative survival strategies, such as careful rationing of black-market purchases. Alba covertly pilfers from her mother's food supplies to aid the needy. She, along with Jaime, also secretly takes weapons from Esteban's cache to stash them in the mountains. Meanwhile, Jaime's relationship with Amanda continues even though he is no longer interested. He also struggles with an inappropriate attraction towards Alba. Amanda and Alba assist at the severely understaffed clinic where Jaime works. Esteban's long absence due to the country's turmoil allows the laborers at Tres Marias to seize control of the estate. When he learns of this, he takes a weapon and heads to Tres Marias where he is held captive by the workers. Even the national guard fails to liberate him. Blanca takes matters into her own hands and, accompanied by Alba, appeals to Pedro Tercero at his office to release Esteban, revealing to Alba in the process that Pedro Tercero is her father. Pedro Tercero complies and they all head to Tres Marias. The laborers, recognizing Pedro Tercero as a revolutionary and a Tres Marias native, let him free Esteban Trueba, who begrudgingly accepts his help. Upon his return to the city, Esteban is visited by Luisa Mora, the last surviving Mora sister. She warns him of impending bloody conflict, cautioning that despite being on the winning side, he will gain nothing. She also advises him that Alba should leave the country, as she will be in danger. Esteban is pleased to see Luisa, as she reminds him of Clara, but he disregards her counsel.

chapter 13

Rising political strife leads to a military coup. The president, sensing the impending danger, summons his confidants, including Jaime. When the military strikes, they assassinate the president and capture Jaime. Offered a chance to disown his political beliefs for freedom due to his occupation and family status, Jaime holds fast to his principles and is executed. Esteban, oblivious of Jaime's demise, applauds the coup. He has minor worries about not immediately returning to the Senate but expects a short dictatorship followed by a conservative reign. Meanwhile, Miguel departs from Alba and aligns with the guerrillas. Covertly on the day of the coup, Pedro Tercero seeks refuge at the house, and Blanca shelters him in a secluded room without anyone's knowledge. Their love rekindles during the months he stays hidden, though Pedro Tercero becomes restless. Post-coup, shops overflow with goods earlier unavailable under the Socialist regime, but prices soar drastically, giving no respite to the poor or middle class. High walls segregate the impoverished areas, while the affluent parts shine, ensuring the rich and tourists remain oblivious to the plight of the rest. The military rule turns increasingly fascist, shutting schools, censoring expression, and eliminating opposition. Alba covertly assists the poor with food and aids the dissidents in escaping the country with Amanda's help. Esteban returns to Tres Marias only to expel the peasants and devastate their homes. Too late, he grasps his self-inflicted harm. His offer to the peasants to return is rejected, and he retreats back to the city. The Poet's death is mourned briefly until the military suppresses the public grief. Blanca reveals to Esteban and Alba about harboring Pedro Tercero since the coup, pleading for their aid. Esteban contacts an embassy employee and personally escorts Pedro Tercero out of hiding. Reconciliation occurs between the two men, and Blanca decides to cohabit with Pedro Tercero. Both enter the Vatican embassy and flee to Canada.

chapter 14

Alba, alongside several other captives, experiences physical, sexual, and emotional abuse from her captors, especially from Esteban Garcia. Despite being blindfolded, she recognizes Garcia after a few encounters. Even under increased torture that includes electric shocks, Alba refuses to disclose Miguel's location. She finds an ally in Ana Diaz, a fellow prisoner who had been part of the first university occupation with her. In the midst of her torment, Alba realizes that Garcia's obsession with her is driven by a need to "avenge himself for injuries that had been inflicted on him from birth." Eventually, he sends her to solitary confinement. Attempting suicide, Alba is visited by Clara's spirit who advises her to survive by mentally narrating her experiences. This keeps her sane but also leads to her neglecting her physical needs. When she is on the verge of dying, the guards return her to Garcia, whom she no longer recognizes. In the meantime, Esteban Trueba exhausts all his resources to find Alba. After a month of futile efforts, he seeks assistance from Transito Soto at the Hotel Christopher Columbus. Transito has adapted her business to the changing times, transforming her cooperative into a lovers' hotel. This enterprise flourishes under the military rule due to patronage from high-ranking officials. Acknowledging the debt she owes Esteban from fifty years ago, she agrees to help him find Alba. Two days later, she informs Esteban that she has located Alba.


After suffering a severe hand injury during her tortures, Alba is sent to the infirmary when her wound becomes infected, as Esteban Garcia does not want her to die. On her recovery, she's moved to a women's concentration camp due to Transito's interference, where she reunites with Ana Diaz. The camp women support each other, and the guards are relatively decent. After a brief stay, Alba is left by the police in a city slum and taken in by a poor family who eventually deliver her to Esteban Trueba. Esteban wants to escape the country with Alba, but he respects her decision to stay for Miguel, her lover. Miguel and Esteban had collaborated to find Alba while she was missing, with Miguel suggesting Esteban seek help from Transito Soto. Alba and Esteban decide to continue living, restore the house, and together they write their family story using Clara's notebooks. This process allows them to release their anger and desire for revenge. Shortly after, Esteban passes away at ninety, but Alba is not the last of her line - she is pregnant. The father of her baby could be Miguel or possibly one of her captors.

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