'In Mario Vargas Llosa's latest novel there are two stories - that of Paul Gauguin, the Post-Impressionist painter, and that of Paul Gauguin's grandmother, Flora Tristan ...what makes the novel so illuminating is the continuity between their parallel lives ...the novel is highly accomplished and teems with characters, ideas and incident - Gauguin ...
'In Mario Vargas Llosa's latest novel there are two stories - that of Paul Gauguin, the Post-Impressionist painter, and that of Paul Gauguin's grandmother, Flora Tristan ...what makes the novel so illuminating is the continuity between their parallel lives ...the novel is highly accomplished and teems with characters, ideas and incident - Gauguin and Flora may have thought they were masters of their own destiny, but this novel powerfully suggests that even that may have been an illusion - like paradise itself.' Literary Review 'Vargas Llosa's storytelling gifts are pretty much unrivalled, and they don't desert him this time either. His recreation of the tactile, sensuous, brilliant, whiffy details of the everyday is superb ...a fabulously abundant book.' Financial Times 'The Way to Paradise weaves an extraordinarily rich double fantasia around Gauguin's life, strenuously explores qualities in the works, and sets moral issues in a far wilder, more real historical world ...riveting stuff, beautifully written, wild, exact, and visually stunning.' Independent
Publishers Weekly, 2003-09-29 Postimpressionist painter Paul Gauguin's dramatic life inspired Somerset Maugham's classic The Moon and Sixpence; now Vargas Llosa takes his turn re-imagining the artist's story in an intricately detailed novel that also chronicles the life of Gauguin's feminist-socialist grandmother, Flora Trist n. Splitting the narrative between Trist n's tour of France in 1844, which she made to recruit support for her Workers Union, and Gauguin's life after landing in Tahiti in 1891, Vargas Llosa shows how each sought something-be it social reform or artistic truth-greater than themselves. The illegitimate child of a Peruvian man and a French woman, Trist n flees her villainous husband and makes her way to Peru, where she hopes to claim her inheritance from her late father's Peruvian relatives. When she fails, she returns to Europe and throws herself into radical politics. Gauguin's story is better known-the abdication of bourgeois existence for art; the brief, conflicted cohabitation with Van Gogh; the voyage to Tahiti; the sexual escapades there, and the ravages of syphilis; the final voyage to the Marquesas Islands-and Vargas Llosa tells it carefully. His twin tales achieve force and momentum through the sheer accumulation of detail and the relentlessly chronicled physical decline of both protagonists. But though usually a master of rhetoric and tone, Vargas Llosa loses his footing here, syncopating his account with second-person remarks that condescend to his characters ("Alas, Florita! It was all for the best that it hadn't happened, wasn't it?"; "[Y]ou weren't dreaming of anything so foolish, were you, Paul?"). Flora Trist n deserves to be better known, and this novel should accomplish that goal. But despite Wimmer's excellent translation, Vargas Llosa's latest too often feels like a weighty, unwieldy account of two exciting lives, which does neither its subjects nor its author's past artistry a service. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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