Paula is a soul-baring memoir, which, like a novel of suspense, one reads without drawing a breath. The point of departure for these moving pages is a tragic personal experience. In December 1991, Isabel Allende's daughter, Paula, became gravely ill and shortly thereafter fell into a coma. During months in the hospital, the author began to write the story of her family for her unconscious daughter. In the telling, bizarre ancestors appear before our eyes; we hear both delightful and bitter childhood memories, amazing anecdotes of youthful years, the most intimate secrets passed along in whispers. Chile, Allende's native land, comes alive as well, with the turbulent history of the military coup of 1973, the ensuing dictatorship, and her family's years of exile. As an exorcism of death, in these pages Isabel Allende explores the past and questions the gods.