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The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch: A Novel
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The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch: A Novel

3.08 of 5 stars 3.08  ·  rating details  ·  156 ratings  ·  36 reviews
The novel opens in Paris, in the midst of the sexual embrace that makes Eliza Lynch the mistress of Francisco Solano López, the third dictator of Paraguay. She is nineteen years old but wise beyond her years-initiated into sex by a Mr. Bennett, a friend of her family's, while still at school, she has had many lovers and even been married, to an abusive Frenchman named Quat ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 3rd 2004 by Grove Press (first published 2002)
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(showing 1-30 of 338)
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is not the only book I have read about Lopez and Eliza Lynch, as I read The News from Paraguay three years ago, but it was picked for a book club I am in, so I read it! This one is a little less literary in tone, with some explicit but not steamy (or romantic) sex, lush depictions of Eliza's jungle-inappropriate wardrobe, and pretty decent use of Paraguayan language and history.

Something about the grammar - there are some awkward sentences and a few just plain errors. I'm not sure how that
...more
Adrienne
There are plently of well written reviews for this book. I thought it was worth 4 stars because I love the style in which it's written, I love the language and way the author intertwines words to create a vivid and tangible story. I also want to say that this story is not a piece of erotica, not even remotely, regardless of what anyone else may tell you. The first chapter is written that way to grab your attention, to give the reader in just a few short pages, an idea of what makes Eliza who she ...more
Carl Brush
An amazing and as far as I know little-noted literary event took place in 2004. One element of the drama was the publication of Lilly Tuck’s national book award winner The News From Paraguay, an historical novel based on an obscure 19th Century South American military conflict between Paraguay and her neighbors--Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. I read News a couple of years ago and found it in every way deserving of its award. I even had an accidental lunch with Lilly Tuck at Sewanee, where I com ...more
Bill H
Mar 09, 2015 Bill H rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Bill by: Owlbite
Shelves: ledbc
I found this quasi-history of Eliza Lynch, the one-time First Lady of Paraguay, dreamy — almost hallucinogenic — in its reading affect. Perhaps the heat was getting to me.

Though based on historical figures, the author is at pains to point out that this version is "Not True". Nevertheless, there seemed to be some painstaking research involved, even where she intentionally veered from the facts (or the popular legend, at any rate). The book led to an increasingly depressing waltz through Wikipedi
...more
Caitlin
Well now this was an interesting book. I was a little underwhelmed by the size of it at first - but this slim volume packed a much bigger punch than many of the 400-odd page blah fiction I've been powering through recently.

This book is less a story, more like being handed a bundle of postcards from a person that are not in order and about half are missing. The chapters are brief glimpses into the story, and at various points in the timeline.

This makes it all sound incredibly cerebral - but I lov
...more
Marty
This was a great story overall - Eliza Lynch was basically Paraguay's 19th century version of Evita. She was a self-made woman, wielding an enormous amount of power as the common-law wife of the dictator Francisco Solano Lopez. Originally from Ireland, her family had relocated to France, where she met and married a French officer, Xavier Quatrefages who took her to Algeria. The marriage was a disaster and she fled back to France, where she eventually meets Lopez.

The book switches back and forth
...more
Sally Tarbox
Unrecognisable from Ms Enright's other works, this is written very much in the dreamlike style of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
The chronology is fluid: the account of Irishwoman Eliza Lynch's journey into Paraguay, in the company of her lover, Francisco Solano Lopez - son and heir to the dictator - is interspersed with other chapters from later in her career, most notably the War of the Triple Alliance, with its massive casualties.
Although parts of the narrative are in Eliza's own words, she remained
...more
Jay Daze
"Francisco Solano Lopez put his penis inside of Eliza Lynch on a lovely spring day in Paris in 1854."

The killer opening sentence to The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch which captures much of what to follow in this novel which, in a way, argues with history giving Lynch a voice. There is the romance and opulence of Paris on a spring day but there is also the reality of the penis, not something you usually find so bluntly stated, my first hint this book will not be trying to wash was follows in soft tones
...more
Clodagh
This book has one of the naughtiest openings I have ever read, and a first chapter that would make a grown man blush. It is fantastically risque but it is not erotica, it is fun, it is dark, it is emotional - it is a journey across seas into another world where anything and everything can and does happen.

Eliza Lynch was the mistress to the dictator of Paraguay, this is a fictional tale based on real events. Enright wrote that the many "biographies" written about Eliza Lynch are so fictitious, th
...more
Lavi
Gorgeous, flowery language BUT absolutely no plot to speak of, random bullshit thoughts gathered together to no great logic or value, boring, empty characters. Yes, the writing style is reminiscent of Marquez, but let's not forget the epic nature of Marquez's novels, whereas this crappy novel is juts one huge description about a whore who is or maybe isn't nothing but a whore. And not even a very good one since her exploits were uninteresting, badly described and utterly unrelated to anything of ...more
Ian
This is a book with some real marmite reviews on GR, but I'm sort of in the middle. I enjoyed it but no more. It tells the tale of the rise of Eliza Lynch, an Irish woman living in Paris in the 1860's who becomes the mistress of and then travels to Paraguay with Francisco Lopez, a future dictator of that country who is to lead it into a devastating war with its neighbours Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. It's not a simple HF read as some of it is fantastical and the author does like a bodily funct ...more
Kate
This book is a fabulous character study. It assesses Eliza from every possible angle, taking turns to replay certain scenes in her life from the perspectives of all others involved.
This is a story of a powerful woman, told powerfully. With its languid diction and visceral imagery, it reads more like a poen than a novel.
Enright has long been acknowledged as a talented author, and this novel takes the demonstration of her talent to new heights. A must read for any reader in love with a fabulous p
...more
Judy
Interesting perspective on this bit of history but I'd recommend Tuck's "News from Paraguay"...
mary
This novel is based on the fantastic story of Eliza Lynch, a girl from Mallow whose famiy fled from Ireland at the time of the Famine, and who became the mistress and mother of the children of Francisco Lopez, dictatorial ruler of Paraguay in the ninteenth century.
Anne Enright tries to get inside the skin of this woman, and has written an intriguing and sympathetic account of her journey to Asuncion, where she always remained an outsider.A very impressive novel that has spurred me to read more f
...more
Becky
I really couldn't get into this book at all, had a couple of stabs at it before I managed... and I'm afraid the whole thing dragged for me which, considering it is a pretty short novel, seems a shame. I have enjoyed other novels by Enright, but found the whole concept of this to be somewhat laboured and pretentious. The continued attempts to make everything appear in the most sensual light possible just seemed to cloud what was actually a potentially interesting story. Not a fan. :(
sisterimapoet
Quite a departure for Enright and perhaps not quite as satisfying as some of her others. But I would never deny a writer the chance to have a bit of fun and try something new in their work. Especially not if they do it well - as she does here. A good example of that Marquezy thing, but perhaps up the Winterson end - a short but rambling adventure, mythical and a bit mad. But handled with keen Enright's eye for description and characterisation.
Bax
Jun 22, 2008 Bax rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: lit, wife
Wifebook (tm)

Immediately after finishing The Gathering nothing would do but that we get her more Anne Enright. The two the local chain had on the shelf were this one (about "an Irish woman who became the Eva Peron of Paraguay!") and one that had a character who suffered a miscarriage, which is a verboten topic until the end of July.

She really liked it, but said it lacked the resonance and power of The Gathering, so 4 stars it is.
Mary
Yuk! I just wanted the history lesson from her personal point of view, not some private peep show! If you do decide to read this, you can skip the entire first chapter and still understand what is going on. I did.

Too bad, since I love Paraguay and it would have been awesome to learn more about that point in history (when they lost most of their men in the war).
Cat
very evocative, Enright kind of taps into that dreamscape that is one of the trademarks of South American writing (see Allende). Her narrative flow can be almost too discursive at times, though -- I found myself almost unsure of what kind of traumatic events had occurred, and the disordered chronology didn't help, either.

Still. Excellent.
Mike
i liked enright's short stories more than i liked her novel ("the gathering"). this novel seems to take more chances with language, flashing a bit more of the "daring" that some cranky Booker bookies think Anne was lacking in The Gathering.
Stephaniedean
Some of my favorite images are in this book. I can really relate to the main chrachter, Eliza Lynch. The ending is a little dramatic and strange, but I have read this book over and over again in portions.
Gemma Williams
Apparently based on real events, this is a lively, bawdy, earthy historical novel in a style that isn't exactly magical realism but evokes Marquez nonetheless. Written with a poetic sense and great verve.
Maryrose
Jun 09, 2008 Maryrose added it
Shelves: gave-up-on
rec by Irish Times re. Parguay - and it's historical too!
I read most of it, loved the start was captivating. But it seemd to lose it's momentum and the writer was repeating herself halfway.
Hannah
The writing is beautiful, but I had trouble getting into it. I think if I read it another time it would've made more sense, I just don't have the concentration at the moment.
Dorothy
Anne Enright, right now, is what I'd like to be. She's fucking wonderful. The food conceit is especially fun -- I had to find asparagus to cook after I read this.
Maggie
I was really hoping for more out of Enright and the subject matter, but was disappointed.

Her language is still fluid and hypnotic. Just wish it could do more.
Lucia Gannon
I made one attempt at this and I don't know if I was too tired or what but I have never wanted to pick it up again! Maybe later...
Melissa
This book was horrible. It was like it was in a different language. I could never figure out what was going on.
Katie Grainger
I didn't really enjoy this book, I found it a little dull and difficult to read.
Dan
Convoluted and dense for what ought to be a relatively easy reading novel.
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Anne Enright was born in Dublin, where she now lives and works. She has published three volumes of stories, one book of nonfiction, and five novels. In 2015, she was named the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction. Her novel The Gathering won the Man Booker Prize, and her last novel, The Forgotten Waltz, won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.
More about Anne Enright...
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