I first read Mario Vargas Llosa as a Spanish major in college and was totally blown away. I found The Bad Girl on a sale rack a few weeks ago and snatched it up in hopes I would be as impressed as I was in my salad days. I was. The Bad Girl relates the story of Ricardo and his lifelong obsession with a girl he met as a boy in Peru. She refers to him as “the good boy.” The bad girl pops in and out of Ricardo’s life sporadically and always as a different person. Even with the minimal time they spend together their relationship grows. Vargas Llosa takes his reader through a vast array of emotions from anger to joy and from angst to pleasure. The reader can go from anger with the good boy for his judgment to happiness at his pleasure to angst at the disappointment and betrayal of the bad girl’s sudden departure from Ricardo’s life.
I would love to read this in Spanish, but frankly based on what I’ve read of his works in Spanish I can only believe Edith Grossman has done an outstanding job of translating. It’s been a long time since I was so enthralled with a book I couldn’t put it down. But I found myself as obsessed with the story and characters as the good boy was with the bad girl. I highly recommend it.