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The News from Paraguay    by Lily Tuck order for
News from Paraguay
by Lily Tuck
Order:  USA  Can
Perennial, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The love affair between future dictator of Paraguay, Francisco Solano, and the beautiful Irish courtesan Ella Lynch began in 1854 in Paris. It ended in 1875, after two tumultuous decades and five children, in Paraguay upon the country's defeat by Brazil.

Living high on the hog, with riches beyond description and a luxurious lifestyle, was common place until Francisco became dictator at the death of his father. But when he decided to invade Brazil before Brazil invaded Paraguay, Francisco bit off more than he could chew.

The News from Paraguay is a fictional account of an historical period. It is written in spurts, so that the reader feels as though reading a series of letters describing events. The novel is beautifully written, with tight prose that captures the imagination and won't let go. The cruelty and depravity that are a part of war are hard to read. And, for me, they make it hard to understand the necessity of war. No one wins.

Lily Tuck shares a prodigious talent with her readers. Her descriptions of the countryside - as well as that of animals, birds and insects - bring the wilds of Paraguay before the reader's eyes in vivid color. The characters come alive under the force of her words. She neither condemns nor praises them for their actions, but simply reports them in a style that is mesmerizing.

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