cover image The Campaigne Apostles

The Campaigne Apostles

Carlos Fuentes. Farrar Straus Giroux, $22.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-374-11828-0

Mexico's leading author follows up his stylistically experimental novel Christopher Unborn with this straightforward historical tale exploring the revolutionary fever that swept through 19th-century Latin America. After the Napoleonic invasion of Spain, the Hispanic colonies of the New World are thrown into turmoil. Fuentes's hero, Baltasar Bustos, callow idealistic son of an Argentine rancher who is seduced by the ideas of the French writer Rousseau and sickened by the racial inequality around him, becomes a guerrilla fighter in various Latin American rebellions. In an extravagant gesture, he kidnaps the newborn child of Ofelia Salamanca, wife of the presiding judge of the Argentine vice-royalty in Buenos Aires, and substitutes a black child in its place. That night a fire sweeps through Ofelia's apartments, killing the black infant. Filled with remorse, Bustos falls hopelessly in love with the beautiful Ofelia; their paths throughout war-torn Latin America cross frequently. His adventures bring him in contact with rebellious Indians, revolutionary clerics, local warlords and members of the entrenched white aristocracy. Fuentes's skill in fleshing out imaginary and real characters--General Jose de San Martin makes an appearance--yields lively and entertaining reading. The lovers are reunited--though not just as Bustos might have wished--in this novel about the ``romantic time'' in Latin American history, the first of a trilogy. (Oct.)