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The News from Paraguay

3.05  ·  Rating Details ·  1,835 Ratings  ·  214 Reviews
The year is l854. In Paris, Francisco Solano -- the future dictator of Paraguay -- begins his courtship of the young, beautiful Irish courtesan Ella Lynch with a poncho, a Paraguayan band, and a horse named Mathilde. Ella follows Franco to Asunción and reigns there as his mistress. Isolated and estranged in this new world, she embraces her lover's ill-fated imperial dream ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published November 30th 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published May 4th 2004)
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(showing 1-30)
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Erica Verrillo
Oct 20, 2012 Erica Verrillo rated it did not like it
I opened this book without having read a single review, armed solely with the knowledge that it had won the National Book Award. I wish I had been armed with a paper shredder. For such a rich and potentially captivating topic, Tuck did a horrendous job. The life of the beautiful Ella Lynch, mistress South America's most enigmatic and charismatic tyrant, should have provided us with cultural and personal insights beyond a standard history text book. For example, I would have liked to have finishe ...more
Jul 18, 2007 Kelly rated it really liked it
Our book club chose this selection and prior to reading it, I glanced over the reviews posted on Based on the low ratings, I was ready for a slow and unsophisticated novel. I was very pleasantly surprised. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and especially appreciated the various perspectives from which the story was told. The book is composed of a series of vignettes and I thought rather than slow the story, it allowed the reader to understand these events in history and the motivations ...more
Aug 07, 2009 Cindy rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2009
Well... I finished the novel. I can't say that I enjoyed it, and I really hoped that I would. In college, I had read a lot of stories about Paraguay and the Guaraníes, so I had high hopes for this story.

Instead, what you get is a choppy novel filled with what could have been interesting characters but, since they weren't fully developed, they came across as very one dimensional. And, the violence and gore towards the end of the novel were a bit over-the-top for me, especially since I have a ten
Austen to Zafón
Jul 05, 2009 Austen to Zafón rated it did not like it
Shelves: historical
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 29, 2012 Molly rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 19, 2007 Patti rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: fiction
This book was loaned to me by someone who's taste in reading I respect, and the other night I was talking to my oldest friend in the world and she told me how much she loved the book, but it did nothing for me - except to make me wonder how such a poorly written story could get published. I think the two main problems I had with the book was the poor writing and jumping. When you have to go back over a sentence 2 or 3 times to understand what the writer is trying to say, then there's a problem. ...more
Aug 28, 2008 Penelope rated it really liked it
If you enjoy Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I bet you'll like this read. I do and I did. It's historical fiction with the author reminding us that the emphasis is on the noun in that description. Although I enjoyed the history aspect (too unbelievable to be fiction), I LOVED Tuck's ability to paint the clearest pictures of all of her characters. Every single person, from the leading man and woman down to the brothers in the army, comes to life with their mini-sagas. You understand them, even if you don ...more
Sep 10, 2007 Mary added it
Recommends it for: nobody
Probably the worst book I read this year - and it won a prestigious book award and glowing reviews. How?! This author's idea of depicting culture in that part of South America is to mention all the mate people drink. Sere's a hint, mate is about as ubiquitous in that part of the world as Starbucks is in the US. So it's not a terribly clever technique. Also, her idea of character development is to go into TMI detail about the sexual proclivities and back histories of every single character. Again ...more
Oct 01, 2009 Jessica rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book. Paraguay has such a fascinating history that I was glad to see that someone had written a book of historical fiction about Francisco Solano Lopez and his Irish mistress Elisa Lynch. The style of the book is cut and paste – it mixes first person with third person, present with future, fiction with historical data. I could forgive the disjointed writing but found difficult to forgive the many passages aimed to make my stomach turn. It was impossible to forgive the many ...more
عبدالله ناصر

تكتب الفرنسية ليلي عن فترة مفصلية في تاريخ الباراغواي في القرن التاسع العشر. و قد اختارت الكاتبة التي عاشت طفولتها هناك أن تسرد الأحداث عبر يوميات الايرلندية إيلا عشيقة الديكتاتور فرانكو سولانو لوبيز- إذا ماتذكرنا فرانكو اسبانيا يمكن التخوف من هذا الاسم - و الذي خطب ودها في إقامته بباريس بلد الجمال و الموضة عبر شراء مهرة أصيلة أسمتها ماتيلدا تيمناً بإحدى الأميرات. يعود فرانكو للباراغوي بصحبة إيلا و يتم رفضها من الأسرة المالكة كما هو الحال بالنسبة للأوساط الدينية و لكن فرانكو على أية حال لا يتوقف
Jun 23, 2009 Sonya rated it liked it
If I could rate this 3.5, I would. I had a hard time connecting with Lily Tuck's writing style--which is stunning throughout, but hit me like pelted stones somehow. One feels a bit flinchy reading this; characters are not developed on the page so much as they are "stamped." And yet, as I got to the end, I found that I cared deeply for what happened to them (tragedy, of course). I even flipped back and began immediately re-reading earlier parts. Perhaps having had no previous knowledge of the war ...more
Aug 07, 2009 Jane rated it it was ok
This novel is based on actual happenings, so it's harder to take in than if it had all been fiction. An Irish woman, divorced in Paris, meets a Paraguayan man and returns to that country with him, has his children, and aids him in his ambitions to lead the country after his father's death. The incredible cruelty of so many characters is almost unbelievable. The narration is too rote to make the characters come alive, but I kept reading just the learn the outcome. I don't recommend this one! I ga ...more
Joseph Gendron
Aug 20, 2012 Joseph Gendron rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book and its relation to real events and places. It is unfortunate that there is not a map included to help the reader follow the action better. Paraguay has a unique geography and the author does a good job of describing it. The story presented here is tragic, as is the history, but a very interesting read.
Jun 16, 2009 Carrie rated it did not like it
Okay, I didn't actually finish this book. I disliked it from the start, and my dislike just kept increasing to the point where I realized I needed to stop reading. So much for National Book Award winners....
Jan 07, 2017 Nicole rated it really liked it
Enjoyable, a quick read. Learned some things about a country that I knew very little about before.
This National Book Award Winner is historical fiction that takes place mostly in Paraguay, in the 1860's. The story mainly follows Ella Lynch, the young, beautiful Irish woman who comes home with the president's son after his trip to Europe. It is difficult to say whether or not Ella and Franco actually love each other, but they do stay together, though never marry, throughout the fifteen years that Ella is in Paraguay. During those fifteen years Ella gives birth to seven children, five of which ...more
Cheryl A
Winner of the National Book Award, The News from Paraguay is the beautifully written, but hard to digest, story of Eliza (Ella) Lynch, mistress to Franco Lopez, dictator of Paraguay in the mid 1860's. Told in short sections from various points of view, the novel isn't linear, but rather short vignettes which as a whole create a snapshot of the time and people.

The novel is a study in contrasts – the frivolous and egoistical lifestyles of the Lopez family and the oppressive lives of the natives. E
Sep 03, 2012 Dennis rated it it was ok
This was an ok book; I'd have liked to give it a better mark but it was so inconsistent and unsatisfying in some parts that I couldn't. Basically, this is an "historical novel/romance" that can't really decide what it is. There's not enough information to call it historical and very little romance. (Descriptions of oral sex don't count, nor do descriptions of sexual positions. I don't object to these at all but it's a little cold and doesn't really add to the story, sounding more like passages f ...more
Jan 15, 2010 mwbham rated it it was ok
This historical fiction begins in Paris in 1854 where Irish socialite Ella meets the future dictator of Paraguay, Francisco. The book follows their lives as his father dies, and Francisco steps up to lead the country, his decision to make war with the neighboring countries, her life as the pampered mistress and mother of his children. The second half of the book details the effects of Francisco's scorched earth policies as his uninformed decisions create havoc (death, torture, destitution) on ev ...more
Sep 28, 2009 Michelle rated it it was ok
This book was easy to put down. It won a National Book Award, so I kept reading even though I wasn't liking it. But, I'm not sure why it won an award. Horrible things happen and there's no serious concern from the characters and it all seems senseless and meaningless. None of the characters were sympathetic or terribly interesting. It's historical fiction though, so if you were interested from that perspective, maybe there's more going on. But I found this fairly torturous.
Aug 28, 2011 Cathy rated it really liked it
This historical novel takes place in Paraguay in the mid 1800’s a time and place I know nothing about. Ella Lynch an Irishwoman meets Francisco Solano Lopez "Franco”, a dictator from Paraguay, while he is visiting France. She is wooed by him and his grandiose talk of how he will make Asunción as grand as Paris. Tuck paints a vivid picture of Paraguay, from the beauty of the country and to the brutality of the dictatorship and war.
Jul 08, 2009 J rated it it was ok
This book was just eh... I managed to finish it but the ending was lacking in tying the whole book together - not to mention I found myself skipping through passages pertaining to the war that seemed repetitive and boring. This subject matter had so much potential and there are shining moments in the story but overall I was rather disappointed.
RH Walters
Feb 18, 2010 RH Walters rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 22, 2009 Sally rated it it was ok
This is an award winning book, but I really slogged through it. Well written, but the story line was not of much interest.
Jackie Jacobsen-Côté
Mar 17, 2017 Jackie Jacobsen-Côté rated it it was amazing
This was what I wanted to do with my staycation - read books and not move from my new and oh-so-comfy couch.

I got 1.5 days of that, and this magnificent book, which I've been carrying with me from Montreal to Cambridge to Hitchin. Well worth it. Pick it up if you're looking for a female-focused historical fiction novel on a little-known Latin American dictator in the 1840s. Seriously.
Feb 26, 2017 Cindy rated it it was ok
Abandoned on pg 222 of 243 ... disappointing read
Robin Friedman
Jan 08, 2015 Robin Friedman rated it liked it
There is always a tension in reading a historical novel between the "history" and the "fiction". In her author's note, to her National Book Award novel, "The News from Paraguay", Lily Tuck acknowledges this tension and attempts to resolve it by saying: "Nouns always trump adjectives, and in the phrase 'historical fiction' it is important to remember which of the two words is which." This resolution is not always appealing in novels set in a period with which the reader is familiar. It is temptin ...more
Bob Schmitz
Jun 22, 2013 Bob Schmitz rated it it was ok
Eliza Alicia Lynch was an Irish born French courtesan who became the mistress of the soon to be president of Paraguay, Francisco Solano López, during the mid-19th-century. She lived a life of splendor and culture while her husband led the country into a disastrous war with Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. At the end of the war Paraguay’s population was reduced from 1,000,000 to 200,000, cities were devastated and Paraguay once one of the richest nation in South America was reduced to poverty from ...more
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Jul 09, 2008 Scot rated it liked it
This National Book Award winner is historical fiction set in Paris, Buenos Aires, London, and Paraguay in the 1850s and 60s. The main story follows the life of a beautiful Irish girl who becomes a powerful courtesan in aristocratic Paris then moves to Paraguay as the common law wife of a violent, ambitious, ruthless, macho general who becomes president and dictator. We trace her life experience and his after they meet, the perspectives and encounters with them of a range of peoples from differen ...more
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Lily Tuck is an American novelist and short story writer whose novel The News from Paraguay won the 2004 National Book Award for Fiction. Her novel Siam was nominated for the 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. She has published four other novels, a collection of short stories, and a biography of Italian novelist Elsa Morante (see "Works" below).
An American citizen born in Paris, Tuck now divides
More about Lily Tuck...

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