Virginia Miner, a 50-something, unmarried tenured professor, is in London to work on her new book about children's folk rhymes. Despite carrying a U.S. passport, Vinnie feels essentially English and rather looks down on her fellow Americans. But in spite of that, she is drawn into a mortifying and oddly satisfying affair with an Oklahoman tourist who dresses more Bronco Billy than Beau Brummel.
Also in London is Vinnie's colleague, Fred Turner, a handsome, flat broke, newly separated, and thoroughly miserable young man trying to focus on his own research. Instead, he is distracted by a beautiful and unpredictable English actress and the world she belongs to. Both American, both abroad, and both achingly lonely, Vinnie and Fred play out their confused alienation and dizzying romantic liaisons in Alison Lurie's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Smartly written, poignant, and witty, Foreign Affairs remains an enduring comic masterpiece.
©2006 Alison Lurie (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"A splendid comedy, very bright, brilliantly written in a confident and original manner. The best book by one of our finest writers." (Elizabeth Hardwick)
"If you manage to read only a few good novels a year, make this one of them." (USA Today)
I don't remember what attracted me to this title, probably the Pulitzer Prize in 1985. But, now I'm reading all of Alison Lurie's novels and it turns out there is one family that connects the books so it's worth the effort to read them in sequence. I wish I'd realized that because Foreign Affairs is somewhere in the middle, though it works as a stand alone novel as well. Beautifully written.
As long as I have my Audible, I'm content.
Being nearly 50 myself, I've been looking for books that have older female protagonists. I'm curious about how others of that age navigate life. This one did feel a bit outdated, being written in the 80's, but it was a fun listen. I had to laugh when she talked about wearing her flowery Laura Ashley dress! Vinnie, the main character, is a bit of a fuss-budget, but she experiences some growth, in that she starts out far more of a snob than she ends up. I thought it was a good expat book. Being an expat myself, I heard a lot of my own thoughts echoed in the characters here. While there are some who question the book's winning a Pulitzer, saying it was just a romance novel, I think they missed a lot of the insights that were explored, the struggles we experience when our identities are challenged and the ways in which we miss having relationships with people because we are so worried about how hanging out with someone who is different from us will affect the ways in which others see us. It reveals that those assumptions we make about others can be so misguided. There's a lot of affectionate poking fun at pretentiousness, and one can't deny that many of us engage in that behavior. And I know I have my own invisible dog :-) I'm glad I'm not the only one. Come along Fido.
Characters diverse and interesting
When one character had been posing as two.
Yes- I am submitting this review only because it,s important that your narrators pronounce locations, people,s names etc. properly. In the age of the Internet , it is inexcusable, it would take two minutes to find out how the composer Purcell is said and Muskogee as in the turnpike. Very unprofessional and downright lazy!
"An old favourite"
I read this book and all AL's books when I was teenager and in my 20s - some time ago! Sometimes old favourites don't stand the test of time but this one did. The narration is clipped and sharp, and this slightly put me off at the start as the voice wasn't how imagined the main character at all - but in fact it was perfect. The story is quite slight but the plot isn't the chief reason for reading books like these. The observational style and witty though often moving content is the point. I loved the tension between two national cultures, England and the USA, seen through the eyes of the Americans in London. A very enjoyable listen.
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