The 150-word Review: With any obsession the pain is part-and-parcel with the pleasure. Mario Vargas Llosa’s obsession is with Flaubert’s Emma Bovary, whose inimitable spirit has captured his imagination throughout his literary career. In The Bad Girl, Vargas Llosa recreates Madame Bovary, bringing her into the late-twentieth century, preserving her defiant independence and the pain of loving her.
Ricardo is a good boy with simple aspirations: to move to Paris and live there forever. The bad girl is a capricious and charismatic “Chilean” girl, who captivates Ricardo’s desires and quickly vanishes. When Ricardo achieves his dream, working in Paris as a translator, the bad girl reappears, only to deny ever knowing him and, once again, is indifferent to his love. Throughout Ricardo’s life, she reappears, again and again, each time under a different guise, but he cannot mistake the fire in her “honey-colored eyes” nor the hopeless passion for her in his heart.
You will enjoy this book if you are a fan of: A Sentimental Education, post-war Paris, swinging London, perverse Yakuza, social chameleons, Holly Golightly, doomed love affairs.
Clavinism (stuff that will not make you look cool in a bar): Actually Norm, Marion Vargas Llosa’s novel, The Feast of the Goat, is based on the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo (the Suaron-like bad man chronicled in the footnotes in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao) and takes place in the Dominican Republic.