“The News From Paraguay” by Lily Tuck (U.S.)
Synopsis and Review
“The News from Paraguay”: Not That Good
Set in the mid 19th century at the time of the war of the Triple Alliance that pitted Paraguay against its neighbours, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, “The News From Paraguay” recounts the love affair between Ella Lynch, Irish courtesan, and Francisco Solano Lopez, future dictator of Paraguay. They meet in Paris, and Ella follows Francisco to Paraguay, where she will reign as his mistress and support him in his imperial dream, which will result in the near devastation of the Paraguayan population.
Members of the Book Club found the historical context of the novel interesting. Tuck’s portrayal of the European bourgeoisie and the ruling elites in South America of that time was very realistic in their arrogance and brutality. Most readers also thought that Ella was a strong and fascinating character. However, they were not convinced by the style of Tuck’s writing. One member felt that Tuck was trying to imitate the style of South American writers by her use of short passages, but without developing the story enough within each passage. This gave the novel a superficial feel by not allowing the reader to become attached to any of the characters. On the whole, the members found it a disappointing read and they gave it an overall score of 4 out of 10, the lowest this season.
Nicola’s Book Club reading list
Season 2 (Sep 2005 – Jan 2006)
“The News from Paraguay” by Lily Tuck (U.S.)
“Welcome to Paradise” by Mahi Binebine (Morocco) *
“The Book of Proper Names” by Amélie Nothomb (Belgium)
“Some Prefer Nettles” by Junichiro Tanizaki (Japan)
“Black Waltz” by Patricia Melo (Brazil)
* The book club favourite
In italics, Nicola’s Coup de Cœur