Flora, the illegitimate child of a wealthy Peruvian father and French mother, grows up in poverty, and after fleeing a brutal husband, journeys to Peru to demand her inheritance. Paul, a struggling painter, abandons his wife and five children for life in the South Seas, where his dreams of paradise are poisoned by syphilis, and a chronic lack of funds, though he has his pick of teenage Tahitian lovers and paints some of his greatest works. This double portrait is a rare study in passion and ambition. Vargas Llosa makes stunning art of their unlikely lives, chronicling their obstinate pursuit of greatness in the face of adventure, illness and death.
'It is riveting stuff, beautifully written, wild, exact and visually stunning.'
'A tender and gripping storyteller... his evocations of Gauguin's work are amongst the best that I have read.'