From the Publisher
“Llosa writes an unabashed love story and makes no apologies for it. He seamlessly weaves it into the rich texture of the social atmosphere of the times. . . . Written with passion and energy that delivers.” Rocky Mountain News
“Perversely charming . . . irresistibly entertaining.” The Washington Post Book World
“A marvelous novel.” Chicago Tribune
“Spans decades and continents--and in the process, with a deftness that borders on literary sleight of hand, bridges the personal and the universal.” San Francisco Chronicle
“A beautifully constructed, stinging tease of a novel.” The Seattle Times
Mario Vargas Llosa's perversely charming new novel isn't among his major booksit lacks the depth of Conversation in the Cathedral, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter or even the more recent and less successful The Feast of the Goatbut it is irresistibly entertaining and, like all of its author's work, formidably smart…Obviously, the novel was written for the sheer fun of itthe fun for Vargas Llosa in writing it, the fun for us in reading it. It also obviously was written out of a deep nostalgia for the author's lost youth and for the Lima in which he then lived. He evokes it beautifully…Edith Grossman…has translated The Bad Girl with her accustomed skill and grace, making this lovely novel wholly accessible to American readers.
The Washington Post
Emma Bovary has fascinated Vargas Llosa nearly all his writing life, from his first reading of Madame Bovary in 1959, when he had just moved to Paris at the age of 23. In 1986, was published, and it's as much a declaration of Vargas Llosa's love for Emma as a work of literary criticism. Now, in his most recent book, a splendid, suspenseful and irresistible novel, he takes possession of the plot of Madame Bovary just as thoroughly and mystically as its heroine continues to possess him. Translated by Edith Grossman with the fluid artistry readers have come to expect from her renditions of Latin American fiction, The Bad Girl is one of those rare literary events: a remaking rather than a recycling.
The New York Times
Veteran Peruvian novelist Vargas Llosa's appealing, nostalgic latest opens in the summer of 1950, as Ricardo "Slim" Somocurcio, a rambunctious teen in the affluent Miraflores section of Lima, meets 14-year-old nymph Lily. With her younger sister, Lily is masquerading as a wealthy, liberated Chilean girl to disguise her slum origins. She is soon exposed by a jealous schoolmate and disappears, but Ricardo is smitten. There are dashes of Vertigoand Last Year at Marienbadin what follows. As an adult, Ricardo's work as a translator for UNESCO takes him over the decades everywhere from late '50s Paris to the Beatles's London to gangland Tokyo. Everywhere he goes, his bad girl shows up in dramatically different disguises, denying she was his childhood sweetheart or that they've ever met before, but ravishing him completely. None of the characters is particularly nuanced, but Vargas Llosa is a master of description, and his gift for evoking sounds, smells and tastes makes each (often very graphic) encounter with Lily fresh. And with Ricardo's knack for being where the action is, whole "scenes" of the postwar period flare into view, as Lily's sexual perfidy eventually leads to serious trouble. The result is rich but not in the least deep. (Oct.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
The titular bad girl of Vargas Llosa's (The Feast of the Goat) latest effort possesses the beguiling ability to re-create herself in a different place whenever she gets bored. From Lily's first re-creation, back in the Peru of her birth, when she pretends she is Chilean, her fate becomes linked with that of Ricardo Somocurcio. Because Lily yearns only for men with ambition, she rejects the affections of the smitten Ricardo, whose sole ambition is to leave Peru for Paris. But as a translator and interpreter frequenting conferences the world over, he manages to meet up with Lily in each of her incarnations, and they resume, ever so temporarily, their lovemaking. Whether she has raided someone else's Swiss bank account or smuggled aphrodisiacs to Japan from Africa, the obsessive narrator takes her back, no questions asked. Ricardo's expatriate life spanning the 1960s to the 1980s poignantly shows the pitfalls of unreflective idealism on a variety of levels. Vargas Llosa, a Peruvian expatriate living in London, is one of Latin America's most valued authors; here he does not disappoint. Recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ6/15/07.]
The Peruvian-born author's latest novel is an impressive logical extension of the seriocomic romances (e.g., Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, In Praise of the Stepmother) that are among his most appealing books. It's the story of a grand passion, nursed for several decades by its protagonist and narrator Ricardo Somocurcio, who rises from humble beginnings in Lima to a distinguished career as a globetrotting translator for UNESCO and later success as a novelist. The object of his lustful affection is a Chilean beauty named Lily, who captures his heart (without giving herself fully to him) when they are teenagers, then complicates his life during subsequent years when he encounters her-or versions of her-in various locations. "Lily" thus becomes an Eternal Feminine figure (somewhat reminiscent of Thomas Pynchon's elusive "V."). Wherever duty sends Ricardo, Lily shows up-initially teasing him and holding him at bay, later consenting to make love with him (before fleeing again). In Paris she appears as radical revolutionary Comrade Arlette, then as Parisian diplomat's wife Madame Arnoux. In Tokyo, she's Kuriko, mistress to a sadistic Yakuza boss whose violent pleasures destroy her health. In London, she's Mrs. Richardson, this time a British diplomat's spouse. Years pass, political allegiances are embraced then abandoned, and as Lily fails physically and emotionally, Ricardo, though never freed from the erotic spell she has cast over him, manages to move and grow beyond her. Though the novel sometimes feels like a semi-autobiographical summary of the author's life, opinions and emotions, it's energized by crisp writing, wry humor and a brilliantly deployed cast who variously enable,frustrate and mirror the experiences of the two principal characters. And it's capped by a sublime metafictional moment that creates a heart-wrenching crescendo. A contemporary master remains at the top of his game.