Ella is the main character and the narrator. The story is told through her letters and diary entries. She is an Irish woman living in Paris who tries to ingratiate herself with the wealthy by having dinner parties. Ella is a superficial woman who tends to be caught up in delusions of grandeur. After going to Paraguay with Franco as his lover, she focuses on building an enormous and impressive palace. She is not accepted by Franco's family and she builds a majestic compound to surround herself in an atmosphere of wealth and importance, while all around her, Franco is acting out his sadistic fantasies. Eventually all of South American learns of Ella and her husband's exploits. Ella is very supportive to Francisco even though he is a brutal dictator. She seems to be oblivious to all the pain and suffering her husband has caused and justifies his behavior. Ella has five children with Franco. Ella considers abandoning Franco when he is loosing the war but decides to stay by his side. After Franco dies, she goes to England and Paris with the two remaining boys. At the end of her life, she has survived financial hardship but becomes unable to distinguish the past from daily reality. She thinks she sees her old Paraguayan friends everywhere.
Francisco Solano Lopez (Franco)
Franco is the son and heir of the president of Paraguay, Don Carlos Antonio Lopez. He is an arrogant and selfish man who has sadistic tendencies. He often turns angry on the spur of the moment and takes out his rage on others around him. Since he has such power, especially after he becomes president, his temper and brutality affect thousands of people. Everyone is terrified of him. Franco wants to copy Napoleon's imperialism, especially in his desire was to dominate empires. Because of his confrontational stance with other countries, the largest war in Paraguay known as the "Triple Alianza" was fought and lost. Franco uses women as sexual objects, even after he is in a long term relationship with Ella. He has many affairs and does not attempt to hide his numerous sexual exploits. Franco becomes infatuated with Ella when he is in Paris. He ends of...
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