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Foreign Bodies Hardcover – November 1, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
It is 1952 and 48 year-old Bea Nightingale has been teaching English to boys in a technical school for decades. They are more interested in other things than Shakespeare and Dickens but Bea gives it her best shot each semester. Once briefly married to Leo, a composer and pianist, Bea has been divorced for decades and Leo has gone on to do very well as a composer of scores for Hollywood movies. After Leo left Bea, he also left his grand piano which takes up a huge place in Bea's small Manhattan apartment and symbolizes several things to her - regret, the importance of art, and betrayal. Leo was supposed to pick up the piano and never did. It has sat untouched for years, an homage to Bea's anger and loss, along with its symbolic meaning of art as creation.
One day, out of the blue, Bea gets a letter from her semi-estranged brother, Marvin, asking her to to find his son Julian, an ex-pat who took a college year abroad and has not returned after three years. Marvin is a legend in his own mind, an arrogant, controlling, rude man who has made his fortune in airline parts in California.Read more ›
The novel begins with a brief letter from Bea to her brother, Marvin, describing a trip to Europe from which she has just returned and hinting at something else--trying to track down someone named Julian, returning a $500 check. Chapter 2 describes that trip--Paris during a terrible heat wave, her search for Julian, her nephew. She doesn't know what he looks like. What is that all about? It was a promising beginning, and as another reviewer here promised, I was drawn in.
But as the story develops, and we learn about why Bea is looking for Julian and why a huge chunk of her 2 1/2-room apartment is taken up with a grand piano, I was stumped. None of the characters ever rang true for me--they seemed more like props than like flesh-and-blood people. Bea's brother is a wealthy manufacturer, in love with money and the power he believes it gives him over people. (Bea proves the point by allowing him to shame her into turning right around and going back to Paris to find Julian because she failed the first time. I found this awfully hard to swallow.) Marvin's wife--a WASP he married for her money and pedigree--is your basic crazy woman in the attic. The son is rude, boorish, lazy. His wife is misery personified.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting story but characters are caricatures-not really believable as people.Published 5 days ago by Stanley G. Weiss
I'm anything but a fan of so-called literary fiction. But I gave Foreign Bodies a try (several, actually, before I staggered across the finish line) because Ozick has written... Read morePublished 8 months ago by John j Dietsch
How an otherwise nice teacher gets sucked into her brother's family's dysfunction
Takes place in early 1950's so there is lots of letter writing which works as an... Read more
I can see why this book might appeal to 70 year old Jewish ladies in Manhattan who are no doubt an important demographic for the publishing industry. Read morePublished 22 months ago by "Castro" Bob
I love this book. I love the author. Her writing is elegant. Her story telling is first-rate. Her vocabulary usage is erudite and perfect. Read morePublished on November 24, 2013 by Grand Shopper
Okay book with spots of excellent writing.
Leaves some characters hanging with plots unresolved. Son and wife especially. Read more
I picked this up because I always like reading about expats and travelers and I'm a bit of a Francophile. Add to that Cynthia Ozick's polished writing... Read morePublished on September 13, 2013 by L. Mack
I am disappointed by Foreign Bodies. I read Heir to the Glimmering World and decided that I loved Cynthia Ozick's writing. Read morePublished on June 20, 2013 by DLS Jones