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The Bad Girl: A Novel Hardcover – October 2, 2007
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From Bookmarks Magazine
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
- Item Weight : 1.25 pounds
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0374182434
- ISBN-13 : 978-0374182434
- Dimensions : 6.52 x 1.03 x 8.81 inches
- Publisher : Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (October 2, 2007)
- Language: : English
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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It is a worthwhile exercise to read this book and "Bovary" together. I recommend reading Flaubert first. His novel is surprisingly readable, and a revealing look at the pre-feminist world. Vargas Llosa seems to be deconstructing feminism a bit... do women really have more choices today or are they just doomed to gain power through sexuality? The bad girl, despite more freedom, has moments of sexual humiliation that might make you wonder about her control over her own life.
What the novels have in common is an strong anti-passion theme. Characters driven my their passions, held hostage by them, do not fare well in the narrative. By contrast, the more reasoned and dispassionate characters fare better. Whether deliberately or not, both novels seem influenced by orthodox Christian attitudes about temperence and prudence. I also think Vargas Llosa is doing a postmodern deconstruction of feminism and sexuality and coming up with less than a full endorsement of either.
When the bad girl is in the book, the novel shines with excitement. The glow wanes too quickly, however, when she is gone and we must hear the non-substantively droll dialogues about peruvian politics. So too are the men in the bad girl's experience. They appear stick-figured and one dimensional. There is only brief hope in her japanese tormentor, but just what is llosa saying here?
In one of the most bizarre sexual scenes that I have read, llosa goes over the top into laughable, and utterly incongruous kink.
All in all, a very good read but strangely unsatisfying. We only get to the surface of the protangonist(who himself seems somewhat androgynous and emotionally amorphous). Right when we are about to feel for them, one is gone; the other too easily disembarks on more tranquil pursuits.
But a powerful ending and a sense of love and lust and quiet obsession being just this way makes this novel a particular standout read.
Top reviews from other countries
Ultimately I think I was drawn in; I wanted to see how far she would lead this hapless admirer and how far down he would allow himself to be dragged. You also learn something of her past and despite everything begin to develop some (not much) sympathy for the bad girl. But more importantly after the scene is set in the first half of the novel it breaks from its predictable cycle and their meetings take on a different and unpredictable nature. However what I liked most was the ending it finished really as it should, it was neither a bitter tragedy nor a sugar coated happy ending. So many books of merit let themselves down in the closing chapters; this one doesn't it has a fitting ending to a very sorry saga.