I was recommended the work of Mario Vargas Llosa a few months ago by a good friend of mine. Vargas Llosa’s work has not been widely translated into English yet but there are a few of his works that are available. One of these handful is ‘The Bad Girl’ (Travesuras de la nina mala) which I have just finished.
A little digging found that not everyone seemed to relish this book as much as I did; the Guardian was somewhat underwhelmed and yet there is something simple and satisfying in this tale of love, desire and disappointment.
The protagonist undulates through that path of exaltation and depression that so often accompany unrequited love. His object of desire is a hard-shelled woman determined to better the hand dealt to her using her teenage lover as a security and fall back when things turn bad with her other lovers/husbands/abusers.
There is something amazingly simple and yet beautifully crafted about this tale and the reader flows through this history of a 40 year tribulation easily and with interest; eager to find out if she can sink any lower and if he will take her back again. There is an element of Gabriel Garcia Marquez in this story as it speeds through so many decades. The author highlights key world events in history as if they were a flash in the pan and focusses instead on Ricardito’s life and intermittant love encounters – something refreshing for a historian!
Whilst perhaps not as absorbing and heart-rending as ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ this is certainly a tale to distract the reader through a tale of twists and bends. Part of me wishes I could read the original iteration….time to learn Spanish?