Of Love and Shadows is billed as a romance, and while there’s certainly a romance within it, the novel is so much more than that. It’s political and social commentary wrapped around a romantic story.
Of Love and Shadows is about a journalist (Irene) and her photographer (Francisco) who live in an undetermined Latin American country in which people keep disappearing. The government, which runs EVERYTHING, is suspected of these disappearances, but people are too afraid to investigate. Irene and Francisco, however, follow the case of one of these disappeared citizens, and uncover more truth than they were expecting.
Allende sets up these frightened, oppressed people so expertly that I kept thinking that maybe the book was older than I thought (it was published in 2005) and set in some real country under a militaristic regime. It certainly has its roots in actual historical events, which make it even more effective.
The romance-y bits are good, too, if you like that sort of thing (who doesn’t, really?).