The historical novel The News From Paraguay finds its epic story in an important political crossroads for Paraguay … Like a slowly opening fan whose slats reveal themselves one by one, so do the many stories within The News From Paraguay. Tuck's omniscient narrator finds an interesting tale in just about every character and encounter. Each brief self-contained diversion – whether of Ella's maid having her broken arm amputated or a doctor's fatal spill after urinating in a lake – crystallizes the whole in miniature.
Lily Tuck's new novel comes close to neutralizing the emotions that drove these destructive lovers; the strongest relationship in the book is between Lynch and her horse, Mathilde, whom she addresses as ‘my darling, my dear’ … Tuck's prose is elegant, the subject well researched, yet much is missing here … The News From Paraguay gradually becomes a book of unanswered questions and unsolved mysteries.
Tuck's style in these early pages is as effective and swift as in her earlier and most successful novel, Siam. By page 30, our two unsentimental opportunists are together in South America, and Ella is pregnant. Many images are so vivid you can almost smell them … But one keeps waiting for the moment when Ella will become an appealing human being, or when Franco will reveal the charisma he must have had, or when his sisters will emerge from their fat-slob stereotypes to become real people. Instead they stay remote and rather hard-edged, never engaging our emotions. The episodic style achieves many lovely moments but becomes tiresome as it introduces and then discards dozens of people who could be memorable.