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Foreign Affairs Paperback – May, 1990
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Top Customer Reviews
Vinnie and Fred are vastly different characters who share common human need: companionship, acceptance, love. Foreign Affairs is the story of the paths each of their lives takes while on this sojourn in England, how each reaches his own moment of truth. Along the way, we are greatly entertained by their independent observations of England and of English high society, of the inherent differences between American and English mannerisms and lifestyles, and of the pretenses we all put forth when interacting with the world. There are also some wonderful secondary characters, who occasionally upstage the two main characters, much to the reader's delight.
The novel moves along splendidly, until the very end, when, unfortunately, Lurie finds it necessary to throw in several plot twists which cater more to the dramatic, and play on coincidence and unfounded surprise. These are so utterly unnecessary that I became angry at Lurie for spoiling such a wonderfully engaging book. Still, despite a few weak moments near the end, this one gets four stars
Their stories are studies in contrast and in similarities. Fred is lonely, having recently become estranged from his wife; Fred loathes England (at least, at first). Vinnie is beyond lonely - at 54, she has settled into a life of comforting routine, even if the routine involves frequent trips to her beloved England. Fred turns heads; Vinnie is "the sort of person no one ever notices."
They each find romance in England. Fred is upwardly mobile - he falls in love with a beautiful and aristocratic actress of some fame. Vinnie is shocked to find herself having a romance with a sanitary engineer from Tulsa, a man who rarely reads books and with whom she would barely have deigned to have talked had they not been thrown together.
Which of these two relationships goes on to become a life-love, and which ends in humiliating farce? It is the genius of this book that the answer, like life itself, remains unpredictable throughout the novel, right up to its surprising end. This novel was highly deserving of the Pulitzer Prize.
Vinnie, a lonely, rather plain 50-something professor who researches children's rhymes finds love and discovers her own humanity through a rather unlikely affair with a middle-class `cowboy' tourist from Oklahoma. Fred, a young, handsome professor who's recently separated from his wife learns the fickle shallowness of certain members of the British upper-crust. After falling in love with a wealthy British actress Fred discovers a beautiful and privileged side of London. But when that relationship goes south as well Fred realizes he prefers his flawed & honest wife rather than the beautiful, disingenuous -- and rather mad - actress.
Like its characters, "Foreign Affairs" has plenty of flaws. The spectral dog that represents Vinnie's self-pity is overused as are contrived connects (E.g. Fred's estranged wife's father is Vinnie's hated nemesis critic). Still, I can recommend the book. I enjoyed the examination of UK and US class systems as well the games people play with their hearts. The themes of relativity and expectation are woven throughout the book. It's a short and sometimes humorous read that's worth your time.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Deserved the Pulitzer that it won. This is a tender hearted book, particularly the storyline about Professor Miner and her Okie fella.Published 28 days ago by MarkSteele
Very well written novel with unique insight into human thoughts especially as they relate to our view of ourselves. At least 10 interesting gems of thought. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sherry Barmania
I found I couldn't force myself to keep reading and so I stopped. The characters did not catch my interest and the world is full of interesting characters so I moved onPublished 3 months ago by Ken
Lurie deserved the Pulitzer for this novel. I wasn't sure at first if it would hold my interest, but the characters are so unique with their own emotional climates that the story... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Valerie W. Stasik
With wry and understated humor, but with an affectionate regard, the plot explores three main characters who become better people than they were at the beginning of the book by the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by rebecca
This is an old Alison Lurie novel which held my interest and was OK. Like most of her novels it was about relationships and marriage. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Ellen P