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In Praise of the Stepmother: A Novel Paperback – Nov 1 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Don Rigoberto and his second wife arouse each other by telling highly eroticized classic myths based on the six well-known paintings reproduced here in color; meanwhile, Rigoberto's seemingly cherubic young son, Alfonso, cunningly seduces his stepmother. "This lapidary novella by the celebrated Peruvian writer reflects an artistry of almost infinite sophistication," said PW.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Library Journal
Vargas Llosa's brief novel dramatizes--but in most undramatic terms--an erotic triangle involving a self-absorbed if passionate widower, his voluptuous new wife, and his young son. Set forth as a series of tableaux inspired by master paintings (reproduced here in color), the novel eventually reveals itself as the actual instrument by which the son destroys his father's new marriage. Vargas Llosa's novel The Storyteller ( LJ 9/15/89) won high praise, but Stepmother --static and obsessive as it is--conveys none of the excitement of his best work. Perhaps he has been distracted; most recently, the author was an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency of Peru. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/90.
-Grove Koger, Boise P.L., Id.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Lucrecia, newly married to Lima resident, Don Rigoberto, an older, wealthy collector of erotic paintings, suddenly finds her position jeopardized by her husband's young son, Alfonso. She honestly wants the boy to love her, but at what cost? When Fonchito's hard won affection becomes hopelessly entangled with precocious--and dangerous--desire, the fun certainly begins, but the price, we see, may prove to be all too high.
As the relationship progresses into absurdity during Don Rigoberto's all-too-often absences, Vargas Llosa provides thematic commentary in the form of selections from the Don's art collection, included as full-color reproductions of famous paintings, from the Renaissance to the present day, each accompanied by a story to which the painting is to be an illustration. As the book progresses, so does the parade of paintings, twisting and expanding the concept of erotica.
For a small book, In Praise of the Stepmother has an enormous potential to enthrall and, yes, provoke. You might wonder how anyone could have written a book as good as this one. The only answer, of course, is that it is Vargas Llosa...at his best.
Strangely enough, in South America, it is Vargas Llosa's political novels that cause controversy; in North America, it is the sexual content. The cover of this little gem, Exposure of Luxury by Bronzino, was enough to make the censors want to go to work.
Anyone who loves wickedness, fun, wit or Vargas Llosa with fall in love with this book at the drop of a...stepmother.
An integral part of the narrative are the six paintings (handsome reproductions of world art by Fra Angelico and Francis Bacon, among others) which are woven as counterpoint to the storyline. Nowhere in literature does one encounter such a masterful and extraordinary melding of two art forms: it produces a delectable, erotic, and frightening little masterpiece.
It is a story of lust, love, revenge, of Eros, of sexual awakening, and of the punctilious attention to one's body parts. It can be spiritual or gross, refined or vulgar, hilarious or tragic, depending on who you are, how you look at it, and the mood you are in. Every time I have read it (five, so far) it has again shocked, and delighted and made me humble by the sheer force of its beauty. The flawless translation by Helen Lane detracts not one iota from the Spanish original. Of course you should read it.
Most recent customer reviews
Once you get past the basic premise -- sex between a 40 year old woman and a very young boy, there's nothing especially shocking, or even interesting, about this short novel. Read morePublished on Jan. 5 2004 by Amazon Customer
Fun, erotic, perverted, you can't believe what you are reading. One of those books where you go back and read over certain parts just to make sure that's what you originally... Read morePublished on June 19 2000 by Fatima Filgueira
There's a tendency, in our modern, hip and cynical culture, to revere innocence as something foolish and vulnerable and always, always GOOD. Read morePublished on Sept. 8 1999
Magnífica colección de pequeñas historias interrelacionadas a través de los personajes centrales: el niño, el padre y la madrastra, objetivo de... Read morePublished on Aug. 19 1999