“A powerhouse of vivid contrast and contradiction. . . . In a swashbuckling prologue replete with arresting sexual imagery, Enright lays bare her novel’s epic sweep. . . . Like her characters, Enright has a gambler’s instinct for raising the stakes as conflict builds. . . .Her peculiar genius for tapping into our subconscious hunger for images drawn from life that make the same kind of convoluted sense as the images that crowd our dreams is one of the many pleasures this novel has to offer.” Conan Putnam, The Chicago Tribune
The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch
978-0-8021-4119-4 • $13.00 • Paperback • Apr. 2004
Anne Enright’s novels What Are You Like? and The Wig My Father Wore have established her as an original and important international voice. Now she delivers an astonishing, rich tour de force inspired by the life of a truly extraordinary woman: Eliza Lynch, the nineteenth-century Irishwoman who became Paraguay’s Eva Perón. The facts of her life are uncertain and hotly disputedbut from them Enright has fashioned an audacious tale that feels, The Spectator noted, “true in the way that only made-up stories can be.”
Beautiful, sophisticated, and adventurous, Eliza Lynch met Francisco Solano López in Paris, when she was nineteen and he was in Europe to recruit engineers for the first railroad in South America. She left for Paraguay several months later at López’s side, pregnant with his son. Reviled by Asunción society and her lover’s family, Eliza built herself a fine house, constructed a national theater for Paraguay, and had her son baptized although he was a bastard. In less than a decade, López became dictator of the nation and plunged Paraguay into a conflict that would kill over half its population. By then Eliza was notoriousas both the angel of the battlefield, inspiring the troops, and the demon driving López’s ambition. At one time the richest woman in the world, she played the piano as López executed traitors and despite widespread starvation held sumptuous banquets in her tent at the front.
Anne Enright has written a gorgeous, deeply resonant novel about a woman truly larger than life, a book that, London’s Daily Telegraph wrote, “might have been bodice-ripping material, but Enright weaves . . . an artful parable of corruption, degeneracy and the end of an established order.” The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch is a novel of epic love and epic destruction, and an accomplishment that brings Anne Enright’s immense talent to full flower.