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Fans of Johnson's NBA finalist Le Divorce will know what to expect: a fish-out-of-water story about a clash of cultures. Still, the tone and scope of this agreeable if quiet story owes more to the author's early work—Persian Nights, in particular—than the better-known ones about Franco-American culture clashes. Like that 1987 book, this one has more than a soupçon of politics thrown into its cultural comedy of manners. Lulu Sawyer is a CIA agent who arrives in Morocco, both to rekindle her romance with worldly English boyfriend Ian and to trace the flow of Western money to radical Islamic groups. She meets with characters both Western and Eastern, which allows for some typically Johnsonian observations ([Honor killing is] not so common among Algerians.... It's usually the Turks, opines one character). The book works best in small moments and in scenes involving the supporting characters, but the central plot—about Lulu and Ian's relationship—never quite catches fire, and Lulu-as-CIA-agent seems tired and unnecessary. Most fans will wade through the overdetermined plot to get to the sly asides and the astute observation that are and always have been Johnson's forte. (Oct.)
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Though bearing the admirable fascination for culture clash that Johnson has made her signature over the years, Lulu in Marrakech is nonetheless problematic in its unbelievable protagonist, plot, and treatment of international issues. Lulu Googles refugee camps in the western Sahara and analyzes cocktail party gossip—her arsenal lacks fancy gadgets or files. The plots jumps implausibly from poolside flirtations to issues of kidnapping and torture, and Lulu's narration contains insensitivities to cultural distinctions that are possibly meant to highlight cultural stereotypes of American and Muslim women but instead come off as cartoonish. Finally, most critics noted that the novel lacks direction: is it a parable of U.S. foreign policy or culture clash, a love story, a thriller, or a comedy of manners juxtaposed with the world of terrorism and torture? While it succeeds in some of these genres, it fails to achieve them all.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC
Two-dimensional characters, a poorly-held-together narrative, a ditzy heroine... I can't believe I kept reading, but I wanted to see what happened to these superficial characters. Read morePublished 7 months ago by J. Wood
I enjoyed this cross between a chick book and a spy thriller. Great feeling of the place, and expat life style. Read morePublished 11 months ago by NMProf
What Diane Johnson got right in this book is the necessary mindset of being an agent for the CIA. That is who LuLu is and she is on assignment in Marrakech in Morocco. Read morePublished 12 months ago by carol irvin
The book came faster than promised and was in great condition for a used book. I love Diane Johnson and this tale did not disappoint .Published 22 months ago by WordDancer
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel framed through the device of the unreliable narrator, Lulu. Initially appearing as a naiive and somewhat fatuous American CIA agent, Lulu's actions... Read morePublished on August 24, 2013 by Tui Matangi
I enjoy reading Diane Johnson because she manages to be both lively and literate. Her other books--Le Mariage and Le Divorce--had the same easy charm. Read morePublished on November 17, 2012 by Jeannette W. Bertles
Other reviewers have criticized "Lulu in Marrakech" ("Lulu") for poor research about Marrakech, the locale of the story, and for the unbelievability of Lulu herself as a secret... Read morePublished on March 26, 2012 by M. S. Butch
Lulu in Marrakech could be titled "Lulu Clueless in Marrakech." I believe Diane Johnson is our most inspired disciple of Jane Austen, and has in Lulu written her "Emma" Novel. Read morePublished on September 7, 2011 by Patricia K. Peterson