Author Isabel Allende is best known for taking memories of her native Chile -- from which she's been exiled for more than a quarter century -- and weaving them into fiction infused with magic realism. In her seventh decade, Allende turns to the art of the memoir, writing a factual account of her family life and career while acknowledging that even this retelling has an element of fabrication to it. Allende writes affectingly of her mother's family, a colorful group who served as the foundation for her bestseller The House of the Spirits. And she brings true emotion to the story of how she left for Venezuela during the 1973 military coup in her homeland, while her husband and two young children stayed temporarily behind. While it was disturbing to be uprooted from her native land, Allende came to view it as a gift that allowed her to become the writer she is today.