All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

To make it easier to purchase books you may read about on the blog, I've linked to through The Cats and a Book Bookstore, which is located on the bottom of this page. Your purchases are fulfilled and handled through Amazon. To assure your privacy, Cats and a Book doesn't handle any of your payment or contact information.

Happy reading!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The News from Paraguay, by Lily Tuck

The News from Paraguay, by Lily Tuck, is a story based on true events in South America in the late 1800s. It is also the story of Ella Lynch, mistress to Francisco Solano Lopez (known as Franco), whom she met while in France and traveled with to Paraguay. Franco assumed leadership of Paraguay from his father and became a ruthless military leader, embroiling Paraguay in war with factions from Brazil and Argentina. The capital city he dreamed of building, reminiscent of Europe’s great cities, would never be completed during his lifetime but instead, decimated by war.

Lynch benefits from this relationship with Franco, but is likely hurt more by her affiliation with him. He never marries Lynch, and although she follows him between their home base and battle sites, he does little to protect her and their children. Instead, he proudly attacks his enemies, who outnumber his own troops, and his army is brutally slaughtered. Franco randomly imprisons and tortures those whom he feels threaten him, including old friends and family members.

The story is brutal and Tuck is descriptive. She spares no details, and those interested in South America may find the book enlightening as she brings history to life. As the title of the book suggests, Lynch’s friends rarely hear of any “news from Paraguay” and cannot see or understand the cruelties Lynch has experienced or how she has changed.

The News from Paraguay won the National Book Award and was published in 2004 by HarperCollins.

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