I think literary traditions can be like new foods; sometimes, you have to taste something multiple times before you like it.
For me and Hispanic literature, the third time was the charm. I adored The House of the Spirits, and loving it helped me to appreciate the other two books.
I loved the complexities of the multitude of characters. Each one was fleshed-out with layers of personality that evolved as they aged. I couldn't tell you which of them was the main character because each one was so essential to the story.
This book was an "easy read," and when I say a book is "easy reading," I don't mean that it's simplistic; this book was easy in that everything flowed together so smoothly that I zipped through the pages without realizing time was passing by.
If you read this book -- and I highly recommend that you do, because I might even read it twice -- I suggest reading it with a cup of Abuelita hot chocolate. I probably had a cup of the Mexican drink each night that I sat down to read it.
Probably my only complaint was the torture and raping at the end, not because it was poorly done or because I have an issue reading those things, but because I seem to read a lot of books about women getting tortured and raped. I'm getting bored with it. I need to stop reading World War II books; that's my biggest problem. The torture and rape was important to the story, though, so this isn't really a fair complaint.
In summary: this book is one of the most important and beloved Latin American books, and I understand why.