“The Bad Girl” and “The Green House”, Mario Vargas Llosa: Double book review

Let me start by explaining how I shop books. There are three ways I do that:

The fist is that, when on a tight budget, I will buy one book of a classic author and one of a new writer. This way I usually end up with a great book (the classic one) plus a very interesting new one, that I usually love, but some times don’t really like. And in that case I can suggest to my friends to buy/avoid it.

The second way is when I do shopping therapy. For both me and N. this usually means book shopping therapy. The days that we are feeling a bit off, we will enter a bookstore, buy a book that looks cool and instantly feel better. That’s how I got Stephen Fry’s “Making History“, which is a-ma-zing.

The third way is when we have a big budget for books and go back to Greece. This is our chance to get books in Greek, which I love so much, because no matter how well you speak English, it is always more enjoyable to read books in one’s native language, me thinks.

I admit there is a fourth way, which is to just buy-all-the-books whenever Better Worlds Books send us e-mails about great discounts. And they are used, so it doesn’t count, right? Right.

I got the books that I am going to review today from Greece (and I read them in Greek as well). I read them under very different circumstances, which makes my reviews even more objective. Oh well… Here they are.

The Green House

The Green House

Aaahh, The Green House. This book caused me huge frustration. I have read great reviews, I was super excited to start reading it, I loved the book blurb. HOWEVER it ended up being a disaster for me. I started reading the book when we visited Syros, during our October vacation. These were our first holidays with a baby, I felt somewhat lost, exhausted and unsure of what my life has become. So I admit I was in a very strange mood. But the book didn’t help improve it. I don’t know if the translation of the book is poor or if the original is also written in such a complicated way. There are many anachronisms in the book, many names, many characters, whose stories are tangled. In other words, you have to be focused, when you read it. I think I haven’t been so confused since I read The Silmarillion. I hate leaving books unfinished though, so I stuck with it and by the end of the book, I felt it was worth it. I was still frustrated and relieved that it was over, but it was worth it. Quite a contradiction, right?

Well, “The Green House” might be structured in a strange -but really original- way, but it is full of amazing stories and characters. You discover each character little by little, as they interact with each other and as parts of their past are revealed. The description of the scenery is also amazing. Be it a desert, the jungle, the middle of the city or a brothel, Llosa does an outstanding job bringing all these to life, without boring the reader with unnecessary details.

I won’t talk about the plot, but there is plenty of passion, crime, love and sin involved.

Would I recommend it? Yes, but read it at a time when you will be able to focus and read quite a few pages each day, so that you don’t forget the plot.

The Bad Girl

The Bad Girl

While I was trying to read “The Green House”, N. has managed to read around eight books, “The Bad Girl” being one of them. I was constantly complaining about how confused I am with “The Green House” and he kept telling me that “The Bad Girl” was really enjoyable, flowing easily and with a great plot. Still, I was hesitant, when I started reading it two weeks ago.

I finished it yesterday night and I am thrilled. And despite the fact that I only have time to read for about one hour (at best) every night, I could still follow the plot, that is pretty incredible.

There are two main characters in this book, which made things far easier for my sleep-deprived brain. And they are both quite extreme, in the sense that there is a very submissive one and a very dominating, almost bullying one. Again, in this book the descriptions of places are very satisfying. Paris, Tokyo, Peruvian  villages, Spanish neighborhoods come to life in an effortless way.

What I loved about this book was that, despite the fact that the Bad Girl acts in a really nasty way, the reader (maybe that’s just me) starts justifying her actions more and more. Somehow, I feel that this book has a resemblance to an ancient Greek tragedy, as a major catharsis takes place in the end.

Would I recommend it? Definitely.


Have you read any of those books? Do you agree with me or not? Anything else of Llosa that you would recommend?

2 responses to ““The Bad Girl” and “The Green House”, Mario Vargas Llosa: Double book review

  1. “The Fault in Our Stars”. I bought it at the airport for my teenager cousin, but I felt in love with it. I gave him the present two days later. Strongly recommended. I just find out that there is a film based on the novel…

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