I have finished "The Bad Girl". Although I enjoyed it, I can't say it is one of Vargas Llosa's best novels. By now, he is a master of his style, and his terse prose is one of the most readable in the world, but it's hard to relate to the bad girl. It reminded me of an XVIII Century book called "Manon Lescaut", by Abbe Prevost, in which a rich young man falls in love with a courtisan who betrays him every time until he is financialy, sexualy, and emotionaly broken. In Vargas Llosa's book, Ricardito is either a martyr of love or simply a very stupid, repressed guy, seduced by a plain woman who is totally unable to love. An unlikable, cruel, most insecure woman, a true cougar who, in the end, can't be anything but despicable. Vargas Llosa seems to use the story as a vehicle to travel through the second part of the XX Century, telling the sad story of Latin America's infatuation with the Cuban Revolution, Socialist fantasies, the '68 dreams in Europe, hippyism, AIDS, and the further triumph of materialistic society. It's a good trip, and several of the characters are interesting, including his neighbor-friends with the mute kid. But altogether it was below Vargas Llosa's weight. I have recently bought "The Dream of the Celt", his latest novel, and I have much higher expectations about it, I hope it's back to his mastery. Nevertheless, I don't regret having read "The Bad Girl". Vargas Llosa is better than most even in his weakest.
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