i can't do it. it only deserves 2 stars.i tried to force myself to give this book 3 stars, but it was a really disappointing read for me. i came in with high expectations, remembering that i absolutely loved this book when i last read it in high school. (and i'm glad i did, because i have gone on to love isabel allende.) but if i hadn't read more of her works, and this was the only book of hers that i'd read, i might not keep reading. it's interesting that what stayed with me from my high school read, although very positive, was also pretty peripheral to the point of the book. reading it was a much different experience for me this time around. i wanted to give it 3 stars instead of less because it's hard to weigh a book against old expectations and rememberances, and also because i do love how much she focused on politics/political systems and class/social issues. she lets the country the story takes place in remain unnamed, probably because the idea of the social ills and class struggle at the center of the story, and the political crisis (of the wealthy conservative right wing party and the socialists and communists and liberal left wing parties) in the story could be associated with any nation. it is her focus on society and social justice that works for me, and made me want to bump this from 2 to 3 stars, but i just can't. the story itself, centering around the women of 3 generations in the main family described, is really the tool she uses to expound on political and class issues. i remember loving the book for its strong female characters, but all of them fell short for me this time through. still, they were on the humanitarian side of the issues, and drove the book forward.