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“Listen, Paula. I’m going to tell you a story, so that when you wake up you will not feel so lost. The legend of our family begins at the end of the last century, when a robust Basque sailor disembarked on the coast of Chile….” Thus begins Isabel Allende’s Paula, written while her 28-year-old daughter lay in a coma from which she never awoke. Tracing the Allende clan’s saga of tragedy and exile, the Chilean author’s first nonfiction work retains healthy doses of the magical realism that buoyed The House of the Spirits: “Everyone says that once she moved a billiard table across a room,” Allende writes of her grandmother Memé, “but the only thing I ever saw move in her presence was an insignificant sugar bowl that used to skitter erratically across the table at tea time.” More than just a storyteller’s tour de force, though, Paula is a mother’s lament and a memorial to a kindred spirit. Allende reads at 7 p.m. at Georgetown University’s Intercultural Center Auditorium, 37 & O Sts. NW. $12. For reservations call (202) 347-5495. (Eddie Dean)