A Long Petal of the Sea - Isabel Allende
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reader: Digby (Creative)
I just finished A Long Petal of the Sea, by Isabelle Allende. I thought I would share a particular moment on which the whole story hinges. This is only a very small spoiler, but such a beautiful part of the novel (and history):
In 1939, Pablo Neruda, the Chilean Poet and diplomat, arranged for 2200 refugees from the Spanish Civil War to travel from squalid refugee camps in France to Chile. Despite limited funds and resources, Neruda, his wife Delia del Carril and friends prepared transport (the SS Winnipeg), provided visas, food and accommodation for each one of the 2000 plus people.
Neruda interviewed each refugee himself, ignoring his government's advice to select 'useful', practical workers and instead working to unite families and select people with creativity and passion. As a result, those who disembarked at Valparaiso in September 1939, were a diverse community of, artists, farmers, writers, musicians, doctors and many more. Many of these individuals went onto make a lasting impact on Chilean society and culture. On the night the Winnipeg set sail Pablo Naruda wrote:
'The critics may erase all of my poetry, if they want. But this poem, that today I remember, nobody will be able to erase.'
To me, this is such a beautiful moment in history, one that I had not heard of until now. Neruda, Delia and their friends, not only transformed the lives of 2200 refugees, but also the lives of many in Chileans with this single act of courage and compassion. Inspiration for governments, businesses and individuals alike.
If you wish to learn more you can google 'A Long Petal of the Sea', or 'SS Winnipeg'. Or otherwise, just read the book, it's wonderful.