The Bad Girl

Mario Vargas Llosa

The Bad Girl

Ricardo Somocurcio is in love with a bad girl. He loves her as a teenager known as 'Lily' in Lima in 1950, where she claims to be from Chile but vanishes the moment her claim is exposed as fiction. He loves her next in Paris as 'Comrade Arlette', an activist en route to Cuba, an icy, remote lover who denies knowing anything about the Lily of years gone by. Whoever the bad girl turns up as, 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? 3.4 out of 5 based on 15 reviews
The Bad Girl

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Paperback
Pages 416
RRP £8.99
Date of Publication January 2008
ISBN 978-0571234110
Publisher Faber & Faber
 

Ricardo Somocurcio is in love with a bad girl. He loves her as a teenager known as 'Lily' in Lima in 1950, where she claims to be from Chile but vanishes the moment her claim is exposed as fiction. He loves her next in Paris as 'Comrade Arlette', an activist en route to Cuba, an icy, remote lover who denies knowing anything about the Lily of years gone by. Whoever the bad girl turns up as, 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?

First published in January 2008.

Reviews

The International Herald Tribune

Kathryn Harrison

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.

12/10/2008

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The New York Times

Kathryn Harrison

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.

14/10/2007

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The Spectator

Simon Baker

Mario Vargas Llosa, now in his eighth decade, has achieved a brilliant success with this novel. Its narrator makes regular reference to Russian literature, which cannot be accidental, since this is a work written in the Tolstoyan mode: it addresses moral and philosophical issues, but does so within an immensely moving story, rather than within a novel of ideas

02/01/2008

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Times Literary Supplement

Michael Kerrigan

She really is a bad girl, and his will be a sentimental education one wouldn’t wish on anybody, yet we can hardly imagine that Ricardo would have had it any other way. And since, for narratives as for mistresses, there are clear advantages in unpredictability, the result is a wonderfully seductive and enthralling novel.

15/04/2009

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The Washington Post

Jonathan Yardley

Mario Vargas Llosa's perversely charming new novel isn't among his major books -- it 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 Goat-- but it is irresistibly entertaining and, like all of its author's work, formidably smart.

07/10/2008

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The Daily Telegraph

Miranda France

The same humour and good naturedness that characterised Vargas Llosa's Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter are written into almost every line of this novel (I think you have to be good natured to describe Newmarket as "mysterious"). Edith Grossman's translation conveys Vargas Llosa's tone marvellously well.

12/01/2008

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The Independent

Jason Wilson

There are quirky scenes, from anatomical details to whispering a Neruda poem in her ear during an erotic ritual. But Ricardo remains a blank. Vargas Llosa has written an exercise, an entertainment, displaying his narrative gifts on a numbed narrator and his Salome-like muse.

24/03/2008

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The Independent

Emma Hagestadt

Vargas Llosa gives some cherished male fantasies a literary makeover in a novel that purports to take its inspiration from the more provincial passions of Flaubert and Madame Bovary.

07/11/2008

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The Guardian

James Lasdun

Along with the letdown of the book itself, there's the constant muffled sense of a large talent trying to find a way into its own material. Mario Vargas Llosa's immense resources as a novelist are energetically applied to the surface of this tale of obsessive love ... but the love story itself never develops a convincing heartbeat

12/01/2008

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The Daily Telegraph

David Robson

The plot strains credibility to the point of insulting the reader. How often can a man bump into a married woman at a party and not realise that it is the same married woman with whom he had an affair in another country when she was married to someone else? But the two main characters are both well drawn and, as they tumble compulsively into bed, without being able to commit to each other emotionally, an intriguing sado-masochistic dynamic is established

15/04/2009

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Time Out

Michael Sandlin (New York)

Much like its title character, the novel suffers an ongoing identity crisis. It qualifies as a hard-boiled realist affair, as Llosa’s generous with historical detail, and his language carries ample visceral clout. But he’s too dependent on fantasy-like coincidences to piece the narrative together, demanding the sort of suspended disbelief one might more readily grant Borges or García Márquez.

15/04/2009

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The Observer

Katie Toms

There are some vivid passages here, but on the whole this novel is a glib, disjointed monologue. Sadistic pornography may prove titillating for some, but it makes for dull reading.

10/08/2008

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Catherine Keenan

And so it is here. At times, the book seems almost a literary dare: can one write a romance about a character so distinctly unromantic? Not the bad girl. She may be mercenary and cold-hearted but her sheer determination makes her intriguing, at least. Ricardo, however, is bland to the point of nullity.

24/11/2007

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The Times

Sarah Vine

A book that, without the slightest trace of irony, punishes female ambition and sexual freedom with such a spectacular lack of originality is just too heavy-handed for me. If it were by Jackie Collins, it wouldn't matter; but from Llosa it is deeply dissatisfying.

11/01/2008

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The Sunday Times

Peter Kemp

Awkwardly pitched somewhere between realism and magic realism, The Bad Girl keeps stressing how enigmatic its heroine is. But the real puzzle it poses is why Vargas Llosa should have misapplied his talents to this feeble fabrication that, getting underway with colourful buoyancy, fizzles out so thoroughly that reading it is like watching a balloon deflate.

06/01/2008

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