Ricardo Somocurcio is in love with a bad girl. He loves her as a teenager known as 'Lily' in LIma in 1950, when she arrives one summer out of the blue, claiming to be from Chile but vanishing the moment her claim is exposed as fiction. He loves her next in Paris, where she appears as teh enchanting 'Comrade Arlette', an activist en route to Cuba, ...
Ricardo Somocurcio is in love with a bad girl. He loves her as a teenager known as 'Lily' in LIma in 1950, when she arrives one summer out of the blue, claiming to be from Chile but vanishing the moment her claim is exposed as fiction. He loves her next in Paris, where she appears as teh enchanting 'Comrade Arlette', an activist en route to Cuba, and becomes his lover, albeit an icty, remote one who denies knowing anything about the Lily of years gone by. Whoever the bad girl turns up as - whether it's Madame Robert Arnoux, the wife of a high-ranking UNESCO official, or Kuriko, the mistress of a sinister Japanese businessman - and however poorly she treats him, Ricardo is doomed to worship her. Gifted liar and irresistible, maddening muse - does Ricardo ever know who she really is? The answer is as unclear as what has become of Ricardo himself, a lifelong expatriate shadowed by the sense that he is only ever drifting. In Mario Vargas Llosa's beguiling new novel, the strange bedfellows of good and bad turn out not to be what they appear.
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Publishers Weekly, 2007-08-20 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 Vertigo and Last Year at Marienbad in 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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