N W James's Reviews > The Bad Girl

The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa
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's review
Apr 12, 12

bookshelves: 2012, bookgrouppick, translated
Read in March, 2012

A Peruvian ex-pat obsesses over a girl who is all wrong for him. Also, Paris!


Our group's spanish speakers were in agreement that the English version of this story lost something in translation. The english-only speakers of the group seemed disappointed by the language of the novel as well. The title doesn't disappoint; she is one bad girl on many levels. She's so bad, in fact, that it was hard for us to justify Ricardo's fervor for her, though we could all relate to the passion one builds up for someone we knew was no good for us.

The book club member that suggested this book said he had fallen in love with the Spanish version's language a few years ago when he had first read it. That the plot line was twisted and engrossing and it spoke true for him at the time. He attempted to read the English version with the rest of us, but couldn't get over how uncomfortable the wordings were. He and another spanish speaker both mentioned how they could see what the translation was going for in a few of the transcriptions, but the eventual wording fell short.

Reading this book, for me, was a lot like talking to a good friend in a bad relationship. You just want to shake the person until they realize what's glaringly obvious to you. Frustrating. But I think Mario Vargas Llosa intended for the reader to become engrossed in how badly Ricardo was being treated. I also think the Bad Girl was written intentionally to be selfish and cruel. I kept trying to guess what terrible thing the bad girl would do next, or how she would pop up into Ricardo's newly reestablished life setting before she actually did. The reader was forced to swallow some pretty big coincidence pills on that front. But, the author pokes fun at those coincidences, so for me it wasn't an issue. And it does seem like exes have a tendency to recur in the most unusual circumstances, doesn't it?

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