A fictionalized multigenerational account of the Chilean political scene, Isabel Allende's "House of the Spirits" doesn't limit itself to discussions of corruption and torture- there are also scenes of prophesy and magic. Learn this word list that focuses on pursuits.
The desire I had for her when we married had not
diminished; I wanted to possess her absolutely, down to her last thought, but that diaphanous woman would float by me like a breath of air, and even if I held her down with my hands and embraced her with all my strength, I could never make her mine.
not admitting of passage or capable of being affected
Any other woman would have been delighted with all this and would have had her work cut out for her for months to come, but not Clara, who was
impervious to these things. All she managed to do was train a couple of cooks and the daughters of two of our tenants to help around the house, and as soon as she was free of brooms and saucepans she returned to her notebooks and her tarot cards.
"Ingenuity" also means "the property of showing inventiveness and skill"--this doesn't apply to Jean de Satigny because he was "looking for a partner to put up the capital, the work, and the stock houses; someone who would run all the risks and divide the profits fifty-fifty." Presenting himself as a French count, Jean de Satigny gives the impression that he's too noble and rich to be skillfully inventive with his hands.
Esteban Trueba was no adventurer, but the French count had the winged grace and
ingenuity to seduce him, so he spent many sleepless nights mulling over the idea of the chinchilla farm and working out the figures.
"Ingenuous" also means "characterized by an inability to mask your feelings"--while this fits Esteban Trueba, who walks around with a cane to emphasize his words and who frightens everyone with his temper, this is not the kind of partner that Jean de Satigny wants. He wants partners lacking in sophistication or worldliness so that they would be more impressed by him and less likely to question his lazy, cheating ways.
He was thirty-eight years old, at least that is what he admitted to, and he felt that he had finally found paradise on earth, where he could settle into some sort of easygoing business with a few
incorrigibly sentimental. This was why he had become interested in politics and decided not to be a lawyer, as his father wished, but a doctor who would help the needy, as his mother, who knew him better, had suggested.
It was Pedro Tercero Garcia, who hadn’t wanted to miss his grandfather’s funeral and took advantage of the borrowed cassock to
harangue the workers house by house, explaining that the coming elections were their chance to shake off the yoke under which they had always lived.
Being robust ("sturdy and strong in form, constitution, or construction" or "rough and crude") seems to be the opposite of having languor and actually closer to being a peasant. Yet, Jean wants both qualities in one woman because 1) that would remind him of his mother and 2) that means the woman is strong enough to go horseback riding, yet still has the luxury of lying on cushions to stare at the sky.
Besides, he was beginning to like Blanca, now that she was more robust and had acquired that
languor that was smoothing away her rough, peasanty edges.
He followed the road in the direction the Frenchman had indicated, but he had no need to ride all the way to the river, because halfway there he ran into Blanca, who was returning to the house, humming as she walked, her hair
disheveled, her clothing dirty, with the happy look of those who have nothing else to ask from life.
Within a few days her spiritualist friends, the Rosicrucians, the Theosophists, the acupuncturists, the telepathists, the rainmakers, the
peripatetics, the Seventh-Day Adventists, and the hungry or otherwise needy artists began to appear—all those who had habitually been part of Clara’s court.
Grains and grasses had to be prepared for some, vegetables and raw fish for others, fruit and sour milk for the three Mora sisters, and
succulent meat dishes, desserts, and other poisons for Jaime and Nicolas, who had insatiable appetites and still had not developed their own favorite dishes.
marked by prudence or modesty and wise self-restraint
"Discreet" also means "heedful of potential consequences"--this sort of describes Nicolas, because he knows that his father would not approve of flamenco dancing, so his ad had to draw attention to his services without alerting Esteban. But overall, Nicolas does not have a discreet nature: at his sister's wedding, he got drunk and jumped fully dressed into the fountain; he also tried to get a soda company to sponsor his balloon trip across the mountains.
Flamenco dancing had no practical application in the closed society prevailing in the capital back then, but Nicolas ran a
discreet announcement in the paper offering his services as a teacher of that fiery art.
marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions; inclined to react violently; fervid
He studied vehemently, practiced until his health was in jeopardy, and attended the Friday-night sessions with the three Mora sisters, despite his father’s express orders to the contrary; for Esteban Trueba persisted in believing that these were not suitable matters for men.
excessive fervor to do something or accomplish some end
zeal to construct that enormous, inflatable sausage and to learn all its secret mechanisms, as well as to study wind currents, the predictions of his cards, and the laws of aerodynamics, kept him busy for quite some time.
He wondered whether the sonnets might not have been inspired by Amanda’s presence in the Trueba garden, where the Poet liked to sit at teatime and talk about songs of despair, during the period when he had been an
assiduous visitor at the big house on the corner.
He still took his brother’s
frivolous activities as a personal affront, for he could not accept the fact that Nicolas could waste his time and energy on balloon rides and the slaughter of chickens when there was so much work to be done in the Misericordia District.
He wanted to take her to parties, to drive her around by car, and to involve her in the decoration of her new home, but Blanca, heavy,
torpid, solitary, and the victim of an unshakable fatigue, took refuge in her knitting and embroidery.
soporific heat of those months Blanca, protected by the creature that was growing inside her, forgot about the magnitude of her disgrace. She stopped thinking about Pedro Tercero Garcia with the terrible urgency she had felt before and took refuge in the sweet, faded memories she could always conjure up at will.
Breakfast is the only thing that Jean is parsimonious about, but that is not because he doesn't want to spend the money but because his appetites are for cocaine, opium, gambling, porcelain, and pornography.
The next day Blanca waited for Jean de Satigny to finish his meticulous toilette, eat his usual
parsimonious breakfast, read his newspaper cover to cover, and finally leave on his morning walk, letting nothing in her placid, expectant mother’s countenance betray her fierce determination.