Isabel Allende on what she'd tell herself at 25

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

Isabel Allende needs no introduction, but we will introduce her anyway. Allende is a Chilean author whose debut novel was the magical realist sensation La Casa de Los Espíritus (The House of the Spirits). Over the last 35 years, she's written 17 novels and several works of non-fiction. November 2, she has a new book coming out titled, The Japanese Lover. We asked her what she wishes she'd known at 25, now that she's a giant in her field, and this is what she wrote back.


In my mid-twenties I was trapped in my role as a wife and a mother. I was a feminist and a good reader, I knew there was more to life than what I had. I got a chance to study journalism for a year in Brussels; that opened up my life in many ways. I returned to Chile pregnant with my second child but determined not to let motherhood and domestic chores hold me back. As soon as my son was born I got a job in a magazine and started a career as a journalist.

I lived with my husband and my kids in a tiny prefab house in a middle class neighborhood in Santiago, Chile, worked as a reporter in a women's magazine and had a humorous weekly TV program. It was a fascinating political time in my country which led to the election of Salvador Allende in l970, the first Marxist president ever elected in a democratic process.

My job was interesting. I had a good marriage. It was a very happy time in my life. I was young and full of ideas, I didn't mind working long hours and joggling two or three jobs to make ends meet. I was engaged in feminism, journalism, politics, etc.  Fortunately my in-laws lived a block away from my house and they helped to care for the kids.

When I look back at that period I marvel at my energy and curiosity, I was never tired. I am in my seventies, I have had seven decades to learn about myself. It has taken me a long time to accept and like the person I am, to be tolerant with my limitations and celebrate my skills, to acquire self confidence and trust my brain and my heart. I wish I had had self confidence in my youth.

If I could have a conversation with young Isabel, I would tell her that usually there is time in life, there's no need to live in a hurry. I would advise her to stop, breathe, enjoy the moment, cherish her children while they are little because they grow quickly, take better care of herself, rest a bit, take a vacation once in a while, don't work so hard. I would also tell her that she will be tested many times along her life but she has enough strength and resilience to cope with almost anything, she should not be afraid, she can take risks.

And most of all,  I would tell Isabel's super ego to back off and leave her alone; she doesn't need a critical voice in her ear constantly nagging her.


Chilean author Isabel Allende's 20 books have been translated into more than 35 languages and have sold more than 65 million copies.