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The Love and Death of Caterina – Andrew Nicoll

We read The Good Mayor and really enjoyed it (I don’t think I blogged about it.)

Here is the blurb …

Luciano Hernando Valdez is his Latin American nation’s most celebrated novelist and he’s suffering from writer’s block. So far his latest great work comprises the words ‘The scrawny yellow cat crossed the road’. He’s tried all his usual tricks to get back on track – he’s had a few debates with his trusty colleagues at the university, he’s had an affair with the banker’s wife, nothing will work. Until he meets Caterina. Beautiful, young and one of his biggest fans, she has idolised him since she was a child and he has inspired her to write. Convinced that falling in love with her, spending every minute he can alongside her, moulding her to his world, will unlock something and enable him to write, he pursues her and soon enough, he falls headlong into her arms. But it’s only a matter of time before he murders her.

I found this quite a struggle to read. I’m not sure why – I just found myself doing things other than reading even at one stage the vacuuming.

I am impressed by the world created by Nicoll. A small country somewhere in South America – I could feel the heat, humidity and corruption. Valdez is a thoroughly detestable character. He has no self knowledge or awareness of the world around him. We know from the start that Caterina is going to die and at Valdez’s hand, but how and why and when are revealed slowly over the course of the novel.

Caterina is a young university student who writes – her short story is the best part of the novel. She and Valdez begin a relationship – his motives are less than pure, but she makes him feel for another human being for the first time. Meanwhile political forces are gathering and suspicions arise. I won’t reveal any more of the plot.

The writing is very accomplished and the characters superb. Despite not enjoying this novel as much as The Good Mayor I will be reading Nicoll’s next novel.

More reviews …




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