This is an intimate interview/biography of passionate contemporary Latin American author Allende, who became a novelist when she transformed a letter she had written to her dying 99-year-old grandfather into the manuscript for her first novel La casa de los espiritus (The House of Spirits). This powerful book led Argentine-born biographer Correas Zapata (foreign languages, San Jose State Univ.) to invite Allende to speak at the university, a meeting that inspired a friendship between the two women. Here, Correas Zapata captures the life, spirit, and literature of Allende through a series of interviews with the author. Correas Zapata also shares information she has gathered from Allende's family and acquaintances in Chile and includes a chronology through 1998, although the biography itself provides information on publications through 2000. There has yet to be a standard biography of Allende, whose life story is still being lived, but this intimate look joins other critical works about her writing and another less contextualized and personal collection of interviews, Conversations with Isabel Allende (found in the University of Texas's "Pan American" series), to form the basis of knowledge about this important contemporary writer. Recommended for both public and academic libraries. Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, NJ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.