Posted by: Sally Ingraham | March 7, 2009

OT: Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter – Peru

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa

Aunt JuliaMy first book read for the Orbus Terrarum 2009 Challenge took me to Lima, Peru for a week. It was winter there too, but despite the drizzle and cool air that was described, my brain conjured up a feeling of warmth and sun. The book was lively, funny, full of vivacious life, overblown characters, and ridiculous situations.

Mario is 18, an aspiring writer who is working for a local radio station. He falls in love with Aunt Julia, the divorced sister-in-law of his Uncle Lucho. While their relationship is a secret all is well, but when Mario’s family finds out all hell breaks loose.

Pedro Camacho is an eccentric Bolivian man in the prime of his life – his fifties – who is hired by the radio station to write serial dramas. His elaborate plots thrill the listeners. Mario is amazed by his incredible output, and hopes to learn the secret of the art of writing from his new mentor.

Every other chapter deals with Mario and his life, his blooming romance and his fascination with the scriptwriter. The chapters in between are versions of Pedro’s soap operas. Through both the choppy waters of life are navigated, as Mario lives to the fullest, trying to sort out his complicated existence, and Pedro hardly lives at all, his mental well-being deteriorating as his plots spin out of control.

A light-hearted romp, the story bounces along cheerfully, tagging on a little moral towards the end – success can only come when a balance is found between passion for life and a devotion to your art.

I’ll definitely check out other books by Mario Vargas Llosa. This one is supposed to be mildly autobiographical, so I’m curious to find out a little more about the author as well. I’m very pleased that this Challenge has launched a new area of interest for me. I can’t wait to see what April’s read will bring. 🙂


  1. I want to read Vargas Llosa’s “La fiesta del chivo” later in the year, but I’ll have to keep this one in mind too since it sounds like a fun read. Nice job on the review!

  2. This one is on my OTC list for later this year; thanks for reviewing it; you just confirm that it’s something I definitely want to read. It seems very different from his later and much darker work.

  3. Richard – “The Feast of the Goat” does sound like an interesting one. Most of his books are set in Peru, so I wonder if there’s any difference in how he writes about the Dominican Republic. I’ll be curious to see what you think.

    Hedgie – I picked this book because so many of the others on my list seem like they’ll be pretty heavy! Mixing a cheery one in is always a good idea. 🙂 I can’t wait to see what you think of it.

  4. This is one of the weird books in my life that I keep hearing about from the most randomest of places. I think the universe may be telling me something… 🙂

    /Eva – a fellow OT-er

  5. This sounds like fun! I think it might have to go on my list.

  6. […] 1. March Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa – Peru […]

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