The Argentinian Virgin - judging a book by its cover.
I was captivated by the beautiful woman on the cover of this book the moment I saw her. It’s happened to me before and I dare say it’s happened to you too. We assign attributes of character without any basis in fact, but because of the way an individual appears. Through a happy accident of birth, the lucky mix of genes, what the red Hot Chili Peppers call “a perfect piece of DNA”, an individual is blessed with beauty. Facial symmetry, poise, a breadth of shoulders, slimness of waist, coupled with graceful strength or endearing fragility.
Nature’s deception, I call it. The effect may be momentary; if they open their mouth and sound like their antithesis then the bubble is burst; if their charm works when statuesque but fails in movement then they ought best to stand still. Without any contrary evidence, such beauty can be an enduring lure. I’ve been caught out more than once by appearances, giving trust and even affection to the owner, only to find that it was an accident of nature and under the alluring surface they’re just as ordinary as you or I. But sometimes, occasionally, the character matches the appearance and something wonderful is ignited for anyone who comes within range. Such a person is Tom Rensselaer in The Argentinian Virgin by Jim Williams.
Lucky Tom Rensselaer warms the sight and hearts of all who have the good fortune to meet him. He’s a product of good breeding, old money (although now lost) and perfect nature. Strong in principle, generous and loving, he cannot fail in life. But what happens when Adonis meets Aphrodite? Katerina Malipiero captivates Tom from their first encounter. She’s without guile, innocence personified, and all the more irresistible for that. The air crackles with charge whenever they are in each other’s company. He can’t withstand her attraction, any more than the powers at war can halt their own inevitable march towards doom.
Set on the French Riviera early in the Second World War, monumental events occur around the cast of Tom and the other Americans, the Malipieros and the Irish narrator, Pat. A chance encounter, infatuation, love and lust lead Tom and his Argentinian Virgin through the backwoods of occupied France, leading to a tragedy that no one can avoid.
Passionate, evocative, enthralling and emotive, The Argentinian Virgin is a warning to watch out for the skin deep.