While this novel contains some vocabulary that might be unfamiliar to you – words like hacienda and patrón that come from Spanish – for the most part the language is pretty easy to follow. The toughest part of the book isn't the way it's written, but the content. The story draws heavily on twentieth-century Chilean history, and it can be helpful to know a little bit about the military coup d'état that took place in 1973 before you start reading the novel. Still, you can follow the plot even without doing any additional research. And, like all great books, this one only invites you to learn more. Check out "Best of the Web" for some links that'll get you started clicking happily through the Internet, and soon you'll be an expert in both Chilean politics and Nerudian poetry. Trust us, that's a good thing.