In his biographical novel The Way to Paradise the Peruvian writer and Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa displays the lives of the French trade unionist and early women’s rights activist Flora Tristán (7 April 1803 – 14 November 1844) and of her famous grand-son, the post-impressionist painter Paul Gauguin (7 June 1848 – 8 May 1903). The author highlights the common traits of their character as well as their search for the ideal and free life.
When I first read the historical novel a few years ago, I was quite impressed by the double biography of those two outstanding and strong characters. Overall The Way to Paradise gives an interesting insight into the character of those two historical figures who themselves never arrived in paradise, but inspired others to follow their way and continue their strivings for an ideal life and society. I’m not in the position to judge the historical accuracy of the novel, to me it seems close enough to the facts, though, and it introduced me to Flora Tristán who I had never heard of before. The narrative is written in a style that can capture readers like me and that shows that the author was an experienced one who knew what he did when he made frequent use of flashbacks and streams of consciousness to tell the two stories.
At any rate, I enjoyed reading the book very much although critics say that in this novel Mario Vargas Llosa didn’t show his usual genius. I can’t judge it since The Way to Paradise is the only work of Mario Vargas Llosa that I know so far. Besides, there’s no accounting for tastes, is there?
A long review of the book is available on my blog at: http://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.co.at/2013/03/the-way-to-paradise-by-mario-vargas.html