6 March 2017

A Good Read


The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman by Louis de Bernieres
Set in an imaginary Latin American country the novel's political themes parody the worst excesses of the Pinochet government of Chile, the collapse of democratic social order in Uruguay in the 1970's and other dirty wars of the 1060's to 1980's in Southern and Central America.

In the village of Cochadebajo macho philosophers, defrocked priests and reformed (though still active) prostitutes live in cheerful anarchy. But this unruly utopia is about to be interrupted when the demon-harried Cardinal Guzman decides to inaugurate a new Inquisition, with Cochadebajo as its ultimate target.  Cardinal Guzman lives extravagantly and immorally, due to the discovery of his having fathered a son, and his loathing of the poor shanty-dwellers who live below his palace. He has an army of fanatics who are all too willing to destroy bodies in order to save souls. His clergy and the corrupt military set out to destroy the heresy of the countryside, and in doing so the hypocrisy of his faith and his promiscuousness is revealed, as is the hypocrisy of religion in general and the Catholics in particular.

I tried a few times to read this but couldn't get into it. I'm glad I persevered though because I did enjoy it. It's quirky, full of very funny characters (had to make notes of who they all were!), and a brilliant plot. It was rather gruesome at times (think the Crusades). 


12 comments:

  1. I've tried to get into de Bernieres several times and failed miserably. Perhaps I should try again as you did. I do like novels about political regimes in other countries. I'm currently reading the series by David Downing about everyday life in Nazi Germany. Very easy to read, very atmospheric, they really give you the full disgusting flavour of Nazism.

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    1. Hi Nick, that sounds an interesting read.

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  2. I admire your perseverance. I'm afraid once I open and book and can't get past the first chapter, it's over. Forever. Glad you enjoyed the read.

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    1. Hello Nancy, I have only given up on one or two :-)

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  3. Those hard-to-get-into books often turn out to be the most enjoyable. This book sounds like a rollicking, quirky read.

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    1. Hi Kim, the characters are very quirky

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  4. I love your book reviews Polly and this sounds like an interesting one. Well done for persevering with it!

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  5. I love book reviews, always looking for new books. I don't always preserve if they don't grab me right away :-)
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Hi Amalia, I like being in a book group, we discuss the books we have read and the library gives us recommended reading lists.

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  6. Thank you, Polly, for this interesting review!
    I have never read any books written by this author and I have always found Southern and Central America culturally interesting and at the same time (politically) disquieting. The book sounds like a good read and I think the cover describes well the colourful and tumultuous atmosphere.
    Have a happy day! xx

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