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Lion Eyes: A Novel Hardcover – February 6, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Narrated with verve and élan, Berlinski's sly second thriller flirts more with romance than danger. During the hot summer of 2003, a Paris-based American novelist named Claire Berlinksi gets into an online affair with a Persian archeologist who may be a spy. According to the preface, something similar happened to the author. Arsalan (aka "the Lion"), who lives in Isfahan, Iran, admires the real author's debut about a female CIA trainee, Loose Lips (2003), and is sure Claire has actual CIA ties. At Arsalan's suggestion, Claire swaps apartments with a colleague of his in Istanbul, Turkey. There Claire meets a cheerful if less than competent CIA agent, Sally, who asks her help in getting to Arsalan. Claire and the zany supporting cast make this tale of thwarted intimacy—as overseen by the gimlet eye of the World Wide Web (and CIA)—an entertaining example of what Claire calls the tantalizing "intersection between what you write and the truth." Keen social commentary on Paris and Istanbul adds to the fun. Berlinski is also the author of Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis Is America's, Too. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Reality and fiction mesh gracefully in this inventive follow-up to Berlinski's first novel, Loose Lips (2003). A fictional Claire Berlinski is the heroine of this tale, living in Paris after the publication of Loose Lips. When she gets an e-mail from a man named Arsalan who wants to order her book, she impulsively sends him a copy. They begin to correspond, and Claire finds the more she learns about Arsalan, a Persian archaeologist dedicated to preserving ancient artifacts in the Middle East, the more she's drawn to him. On a whim, she swaps apartments for several months with one of Arsalan's colleagues and moves to the vibrant city of Istanbul. But when a new friend claims to be a CIA agent who has been following her correspondence with Arsalan and wants to get in touch with him, Claire realizes she might be in for some real-life intrigue. Colorful and filled with memorable characters, this adventure is well worth the journey. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (February 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400062950
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400062959
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,675,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Claire Berlinski's LION EYES is an online dating story, a spy story, a travelogue (it's set in Paris and Istanbul), and a story about how wacky people and life can be. It's brilliant, witty, clever, and comedic with a nice sense of symmetry. Claire wrote an earlier novel, LOOSE LIPS, about a woman with a degree in English who decides to join the CIA because she doesn't want to teach; LOOSE LIPS is somewhat of an exposé of the CIA training practices with a love story thrown in. In LION EYES, the follow-up novel, Claire (who does actually live in Paris and Istanbul) receives a query from an Iranian archaeologist about how he can get a copy of LOOSE LIPS, since Amazon doesn't deliver to Iran. Unfortunately, later when Claire's sending an e-mail to a friend about Claire's being dumped by her boyfriend, she inadvertently sends it to the wrong address--to the Iranian archaeologist. From there, they develop a epistolary relationship all the while Claire is working on her next novel, corresponding with a friend also working on a book, and corresponding with another friend, a therapist. The archaeologist turns out to be someone being monitored by the CIA, not for being a terrorist, but for being someone with valuable information on where Iranian nuclear sites are located. This is a lighthearted, delightful, charming, extremely well written book with many zany surprises. I couldn't put it down!
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Format: Hardcover
... and in the end, our "fictional" Claire is all the wiser. I just finished reading Claire Berlinski's "Lion Eyes," and before I did anything else, I plopped down at my desk to come write a review of this incredible book!

I want to use a bunch of cliche statements one reads in book reviews and state that this book was phenomenal, a real page-turner (I read it in two days), and is a must-read for everyone this summer -- and I actually mean what I say with said cliches. It is filled with everything that a reader of contemporary fiction is looking for: it has humor (Imran in the bathroom almost caused cherry Kool-aid to snort out of my nose when I read that scene), romance (Claires, both of you... I fell for Arsalan too, and I'm as intelligent, well-educated, and professional as you two!), intrigue, espionage, fantasy, and reality. The plot twists in all the right places, and as gifted as I am with guessing outcomes of books (I saw the Tyler Durden/narrator thing coming a mile away in "Fight Club," mind you) "Lion Eyes" delighted me with unexpected blind allies and secret passageways the whole time, all the way to the end. Claire Berlinski's literary abilities shine forth with this book, and I genuinely hope that she has something else in the queue to be published soon.

Perhaps you, like me, will find yourself humming "Lying Eyes" by the Eagles (get it? hee) once you read this enchanting book. Trust me, a charismatic, brilliant man who loves poetry, animals, and his mother is hard for a girl to resist, even when he exists only behind typed black words on a book's white page, and you root for Claire implicitly as she tells the reader her tale of the allure of internet correspondence with a mysterious stranger.
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Format: Hardcover
In this second novel Berlinksi, author of Loose Lips writes about a fictional version of herself in the aftermath of the publication of her first book. Set in Paris and Istanbul with great descriptions of the two places, sprinkled with plenty of humor the book has a convoluted plot line that makes you constantly wonder which bits are fiction and which bits are from her real life. I especially enjoyed the epistolary format, with a significant portion of the book taking place in email correspondence between the author/protagonist and the various other characters in the novel.
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Format: Hardcover
There is apparently a new sub-genre: the spy/mystery novel in which the narrator/protagonist is a hip, young single woman who is connected to law enforcement but earns her living some other way, and whose personal life is important to the story. I have read two novels by Sujata Massey, and definitely prefer them to "Lion Eyes", especially Massey's "The Pearl Diver".

Berlinski can be witty, and I very much enjoyed the character of her psychoanalyst friend, although he certainly was not as much fun in person as in his e-mails. The spy plot actually makes sense, although it is not all that important to the novel. Why do I prefer Massey? She is a better writer and cultural observer, and her protagonist is a better developed character.
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