Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende (HarperCollins), 304 pages, $39.50 cloth. Rating: NNN
magic realist isabel allende is a political exile and relative of assassinated Chilean president Salvador Allende. Her Portrait In Sepia follows up the immigrants' tale Daughter Of Fortune, in which an Englishwoman mates with an honourable Chinese doctor in gold-rush-era San Francisco. Set in late 19th-century Chile, the new novel is part-Chinese Aurora del Valle's story. She's sent from California to Chile at the age of five to be cared for by her grandmother, and grows up tormented by nightmares. She becomes a gifted photographer -- a talent that enables her to see the truth in difficult situations.
While Allende's later novels never reach the heights of earlier works such as House Of The Spirits, fans won't be disappointed.EMILY POHL-WEARY
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