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The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch Hardcover – March, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (March 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871138689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871138682
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,070,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Another Eva? Whitbread finalist Enright reimagines the life of Eliza Lynch, the 19th-century Irishwoman who became mistress to Paraguayan dictator Solano Lopez.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In a story that is as rich and exotic as its setting, Paraguay in the 1850s, Irish writer Enright's third novel envisions the life of the woman who became that country's Eva Peron. Eliza, extraordinarily beautiful, charming, and intelligent, meets Francisco Lopez, eldest son of the Paraguayan dictator then in power, in Paris, then goes home with him, pregnant with his child. Ostracized by her lover's family, indeed by all of the local society, Eliza survives in a grand manner and becomes both greatly admired for her kindness and reviled for what is presumed to be her political sway. Enright matches Eliza's narration with that of Stewart's, an alcoholic doctor brought from Europe to the wilderness to tend to Eliza during childbirth, thus providing a diversity of voice and point of view that much enhances the tale. With a style vastly unlike that of her two previous novels, Enright artfully explores the power of beauty and the beauty of power, and finds them remarkably similar as neither leads to a good end. Danise Hoover
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Gerard M. Meagher on July 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a work that has neither style nor substance. The first eleven pages in which Enright gives a supposed blow-by-blow account of "Eliza's" lovemaking with Lopez is obviously meant to titillate and arrest the reader's senses. It fails miserably. I was nauseated.
This severely disjointed narrative in no way mirrors the real Elisa. I have in my library over thirty books that deal with Elisa Lynch including many by contemporaries who knew her well. None of these accounts, even those written by her most ardent critics, would ever portray Elisa as the cheap tart that Enright serves up to us.
This book can at best be described as a hastily drafted piece of sensationalist Pulp Fiction. At worst it is a malicious attempt to defame (albeit through allegory) a most cultured and enigmatic heroine who survived some of the greatest tragedies of the nineteenth century (The Irish Famine, The Bloody Algerian Campaign, and finally the War of the Triple Alliance in which over 90% of the male population of Paraguay her adopted country perished) and yet, even in her darkest hour she was magnificent. This is a woman who stopped the entire Brazilian Army in its murderous campaign to permanently annihilate the Paraguan race, by the simple act of burying the mutilated bodies of her eldest son and her Life companion Solano Lopez with her bare hands in the raw red earth of Cerro Cora, while that same Army watched from a distance in silence and awe.
The real story of Elisa Lynch and Solano Lopez is a Love story, full of courage, bravery and loyalty. It's breadth and scope cannot be sensed within the mangled historical inaccuracies and most shameful abuse of the truth contained in this rather trashy piece of verbiage, which to quote Enright in her acknowledgements section " It is around these facts that this (scarcely less than fictional) account has been built.
Based on this offering I can only conclude that this is the type of novel that gives bad novelists, a bad name
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By DM on February 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I had read a recent(and somewhat misogynist)biography of this woman, the Irish courtesan Eliza Lynch, before starting this book. The author of this novel, Anne Enright, seems to have her history right: Lynch met the Paraguayan dictator Lopez in Paris and became pregnant by him before returning with him to Paraguay. There, she was reviled by high and low, probably because she was considered shameless (she did not hide her relationship with Lopez), tried to bring Parisian "culture" to this backwater, helped herself to the country's wealth (it was rich in yerba maté) and encouraged Lopez in his grandiose ambitions, resulting in simultaneous war with Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina; a war that killed tens of thouands, saw the country's wealth destroyed and Lopez himself lose his life. Historic sources say that Lynch not only did nothing to restrain Lopez's brutality, but even added to it by seeking revenge against those among Paraguayan society (such as Lopez's family) who disdained her.Enright, writing in the third and first person (Lynch herself), brings this story to life vividly, especially in describing Lynch's first trip upriver to Asunción. Her language is colourful and evocative. The story, still sticking to history, ends with Lynch, having survived Lopez, Paraguay and the war, now in the UK and seeking damages against one of the few Europeans, a Scottish doctor named Stewart, who had remained loyal to her and her husband. History, and even this book, paints her as unsympathetic, but so seems everyone (including those who loathed her) in this sordid, brutal bit of history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nora K. Brill on October 1, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading "The Gathering," I ordered three other books by the astonishingly gifted Anne Enright, who knows all about women. One of these was "The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch." Her sometime protagonist, Eliza Lynch, a "fallen" woman who knows a good thing when she sees it, falls stone in love with a customer slated to become the next ruler of Paraguay. The first sentence of the book verges on porn, but it is one of Enright's many talents that she can mix the crude with the romantic and maintain a high level of curiosity. She has a knack of clearly distinguishing each character while not choosing sides; that is, the reader sees all the human, and in some cases inhuman, flaws in the souls that people her books. Her style may be found "jumpy" by some, as she creates flashbacks and flash forwards, and speaks in various voices, but stay with it and you'll be rewarded by mysteries solved, history revealed and enough red herrings left over to make you think and comjecture. Her knowledge of humanity is profound and she knows how to outline the attitudes of men toward women and of women toward themselves at their most primitive level. I finished this in one all-night session.
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