Truth & Story with Isabel Allende


Isabel Allende is a woman who fearlessly enters the imaginal realm and trusts where her instincts take her. The most widely read Spanish-speaking author in the world, her books have sold over 65 million copies worldwide. She received the Medal of Freedom from Obama and carried an Olympic flag with Sophia Loren. But that’s not all that makes her incredible.

Isabel understands struggle, pain, and what it means to fight, and she passionately serves women and girls around the world through her foundation and work. In this episode, Isabel explains what really makes a heroine, sharing the darkest moments on her own heroine’s journey, and offers profound insights on feminine energy and how it can change the world.

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Highlighted Excerpt:

Isabel: After my daughter died, I wrote a memoir called Paula. And writing that memoir was very cathartic for me. It helped me to heal and go through the worst part of the mourning.

After the book was published, and to this day, I’ve received thousands and thousands of letters in many languages from all over the world from people who have experienced losses. Not only children who have died, but people who are going through the loss of their parents, or the loss of a job, or depression, divorce... and they feel connected to Paula and the book. So I think Paula is out there in the world as a spirit, touching some people’s hearts and trying to help.

Majo: Beautiful... When we study the heroine’s journey, there is a point where the heroine goes into a dark place, called the dissent, was this that time for you?

Isabel: Yes, yes. The dark place came when I had to confront the illness and then the death of my daughter. Taking care of her for a year and realizing that nothing I could do would help. Nothing. Not even praying. There was no way that she would come out of the coma, her brain was almost dead, and the only way out for her was death. To come to accept that took me a year, and that was the darkest time in my life. Nothing that has happened before or ever since can be matched. Nothing.

But I think going through the darkness is a time when we bring out from inside of us the strength that we don’t even know we have. So the heroine becomes a heroine after going through the trials, not before. No one is born a heroine. What makes a heroine is the trials.

Show Notes: 

  • Isabel’s somber and isolated childhood: Growing up in Chile after her father abandoned them, the death of her grandmother, and finding solace in reading and storytelling. [2:59]

  • How love and feminism saved her from her angry teenage years, disgusted by authority and male chauvinism. [5:12]

  • On having to flee Chile for Venezuela, Isabel’s insights on immigrants and refugees, and having “too much imagination” to be a journalist. [7:33]

  • Why Isabel sees stories as truer than truth, and how her twenties and thirties provided the necessary raw material for her writing. [11:08]

  • A passionate rebel heart – Isabel explains the key quality her female characters have, plus the survival stories of real women she’s witnessed through her organization. [14:02]

  • On sisterhood and female community, and the difference between the hero’s and heroine’s journey [17:03]

  • Isabel’s “dissent”: The darkest phase of her heroine’s journey, and her wisdom on trials making the heroine. [26:27]

  • The high price she's paid for feminism, and how feminine energy can change the world. [31:57]

  • How Isabel has seen women and feminism change, and why you should never try to avoid pain. [36:08]

Subscribe and listen to the full episode here (you must subscribe to receive latest episode).


Learn more about Isabel

Check out the incredible work being done through The Isabel Allende Foundation


by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs

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