The lives of two wealthy Chilean brothers are disrupted first by the arrival of Arabella Davis, a young North American scholar with romance on her mind, and then by a military coup headed by a brutal dictator, General Augusto Pinochet. From the family hacienda, Mil Flores, Bella fights to protect her fragile husband and ensure his legacy while raising a family in frightening and dangerous times. This debut novel is an exploration of courage, honor, and indomitable determination; it is equally a story of love, selflessness, and great joy.
A young Jesuit priest returns to Chile and a politically divided Catholic Church. As part of the newly established Vicariate of Solidarity, he is assigned the task of guiding and protecting the women of a church-sponsored workshop. At first reluctant to work with them, Father Alejandro Saavedra soon discovers the courage and wisdom of these lively women and the beauty of the arpilleras, or tapestries, they create to protest the violence of General Augusto Pinochet’s brutal regime.
(Note to readers: The title, A Song of Despair, comes from a small book of poems by Pablo Neruda called Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair.)
Angela Castro is an unhappy, frightened young woman married to a man her family and friends see as an ideal husband—handsome, wealthy, and devoted to his wife. Unfortunately, only she knows that he is also abusive and dangerously controlling. After a brief affair that leaves her pregnant, Angela flees to a married cousin in Venezuela, where she slowly begins to remake her life. In time, she marries again, this time to a Chilean professor exiled for speaking out against the military dictatorship’s assault on academic freedom.
Over the next decade, the two of them and their friends in the small circle of Chilean exiles in Caracas build new lives in their adopted country. During their long exile, parents die without the comfort of their children still in exile, young children grow to adulthood in a foreign land, and the exiled Chileans advance their careers. Finally, the Pinochet years end, and it’s safe for them to go home. The decision to go or stay, however, turns out to be far more difficult and painful than the exiles anticipated.
Angela, and her husband, Rodrigo Betancourt, return to their homeland after a long and sometimes bitter argument, settling in Valparaíso, where they build a good life. Everything changes for the couple, however, when Angela accidentally encounters her abusive ex-husband.