Monday, May 19, 2008

42. "The News from Paraguay" - Lily Tuck

This isn't a "Novel 100" or 200, for that matter, but a historical novel that I kept on my list of to-reads because it won the National Book Award. NBA = high expectations = major letdown.

Ella Lynch, recent divorcee, meets Franco, son of the president of Paraguay. She chooses to give up her French life and build one with Franco, though as his mistress. I still don't understand the reasoning, especially since this is based in the early 1800s.

Anyway, Ella writes letters to her friends in France and in her diary, giving a first-person view of the wars between Paraguay and surrounding countries.

I'm not the only one who was disappointed. A glance at Amazon's website shows an average of two stars for this novel. While I like the historical aspect, there were a couple things that threw me.

First, the Spanish that was scattered throughout the pages. I am not a perfect linguist, but even I know simple rules like "of me" rather than "my." Mistakes with Spanish language... bad.

Second, what is so special about Franco that Ella gave up this wonderful, free life? He is furious and edgy all of the time. I would have been on the first boat back to civilization.

I did like the interesting tidbits, like animal life and herbal concoctions, but this wasn't enough to carry the book.

2.0 out of 5.0 Southern Blues.


Anonymous said...

Is it just me or do most national book award winners and finalists suck raw eggs?

Kristin Dodge said...

I've actually had pretty decent luck with the National Book Awards. It's the Man Booker candidates and winners that usually muck it up for me.