I live in Lima, Peru, and Wilder has captured its complexities perfectly - the age of which he speaks still extending its feelers into current Lima society. The novel is sharply observed, kind and forgiving, and often extremely funny.
Just take this paragraph: "There was something in Lima that was wrapped up in yards of violet satins from which protruded a great dropsical head and two fat pearly hands; and that was its archbishop. Between the rolls of flesh that surrounded them looked out two black eyes speaking discomfort, kindliness, and wit. A curios and eager soul was imprisoned in all this lard, but by dint of never refusing himself a pheasant or a goose or his daily procession of Roman wines, he was his own bitter jailer. [...]".