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Sex as a Second Language: A Novel Hardcover – April 25, 2006

3.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite the appearance of stilettos and a martini within the first two pages, Kwitney's latest novel (after On the Couch) veers into less glamorous, but still humorous, territory than the initial chick lit trappings promise. Nearing 40 and in the midst of a nasty divorce from her philandering actor husband, former soap star Kat Miner takes to teaching English as a second language to support her nine-year-old son, Dashiell. In class, she meets taciturn Icelandic student Magnus Grimmson, who unbeknownst to her, is actually a secret agent sent to make contact with Kat and induce her to bring her long-estranged father—a reclusive, retired CIA agent who may have insider knowledge regarding recent political developments in Kyrgyzstan—out of hiding. Magnus, a bodice-ripper characterization compared to the refreshingly matter-of-fact heroine, falls for Kat and must navigate between his occupational duties and his romantic urges. Though Kwitney resorts to obvious plot revelation in the end, this is an engaging and intelligently written comedy—with a few genuinely titillating sex scenes. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

There is a history of betrayal in Kat's life. She's had no contact with her father since he left when she was 10, her ex wants all their cash but no contact with their son, and her friends aren't respectful of her needs. But she does have the support (and annoyance) of having her mother live across the hall, her job as an ESL teacher, and auditions that may give her entry back into her acting career. Although this should be sufficient complication and angst for a novel, Kwitney tosses in an attractive undercover CIA agent assigned to pose as an ESL student so he can locate Kat's father, who was also an agent. Kat needs a boarder, the agent needs a room, and the rest is the stuff that dreamy stories are made of. With the help of our love-smitten CIA agent, Kat learns a great deal about her son, her ex-husband, her friends, and herself and finds the romance that completes her life. If you are looking for a pleasant, undemanding read, this is it. Danise Hoover
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Atria (April 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743268903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743268905
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,248,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tracy Vest VINE VOICE on July 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
On the verge of 40 and in the middle of a messy divorce from her philandering actor husband, Kat finds herself in need of additional income to provide for her son Dashiell. A teacher of English at a local institute, she still is running from one audition to another in hopes of landing that breakthrough role. With money tight, she decides to take in a border, and her two sexiest male students apply. When Icelander Magnus admits he is celibate, he immediately gets the room. But since they are attracted to each other, he is not celibate for long.

But Magnus is keeping a secret from Kat - he is actually a CIA agent assigned to find out if Kat's secret agent father has tried to contact her in hopes of bringing him out of hiding due to his knowledge of a former Russian republic. Meanwhile, she has a falling out with her two best pals, Zandra and Marcy. She also discovers that not only is her ex, Logan in New York, but he hasn't bothered to see their son in the last six months, and he cleaned out her checking account in hopes of forcing her to sell their apartment since it is the largest asset they own.

Savvy readers will see some later plot points coming a mile away. Kwitney's latest is a departure from her thirty something shoe-shopping, martini-swilling chick-lit heroines. Kat is a real woman with real problems (including a smothering mother), and draws the reader into her drama with hopes that she will get a happy ending.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I came across this book doing a google search for my name. The main character in this book has the same name as me with the exact same spelling... Kat Miner... very bizarre. It's not exactly a common name. There were other strange similarities as well. The book was okay, but not necessarily memorable other than the obvious.
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By LFL on June 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book reminded me just how much I love Alisa Kwitney's writing. For me, her books are all about the characters, whose quirks and vulnerabilities she reveals with unusual candor. She's fearless when it comes to putting her protagonists in embarrassing situations and willing to risk having them appear foolish. And yet, Kwitney's characters never strike me as stupid, just as intelligent, insightful people whose insecurities sometimes get the better of them.

Kwitney's sly, dark humor almost always springs from human foibles and genuine fears, and so the laughs come from a place of sympathy. I never feel that she's laughing *at* her characters, or that she considers herself in any way better than they are. We are all, her books seem to say, vulnerable enough to be funny, but perceptive enough and warm enough to laugh at our own flaws.

There is something so very human and so real about the characters in Sex as a Second Language that reading it made me feel not only engaged and entertained, but also touched by the world's messy imperfections, if that makes any sense. For me this may be the best of Kwitney's chick lit novels. It's no coincidence, I think, that this is the first them not to end on a zany or farcical note. Although the humor is still very prominent, Kwitney stays with her main characters longer here, and goes deeper, I think. It feels like a more substantial book.

It is very much about the complexity of communication, the difficulty of navigating not just verbal but also nonverbal

language, about how people's unspoken signals aren't always clear to us, and our own fears get in the way, so that we don't always know what to say or do in relationship to others.
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Format: Hardcover
I read four of this author's books in a row and for the most part I liked them all and probably would recommend them to other readers of chick-lit. Her stories are engaging and the writing intelligent. So why only three stars? Hard to explain. The first 3/4 of her books are wonderful but the endings tend to leave me wanting to strangle someone. Usually the friends and family of the main character. With people like that in your life, who needs enemies?! On the one hand that's great because that means I became emotionally involved in the story while I was reading it, but on the other hand it leaves me a bit frustrated once the story is finished that the less obvious "bad guys" don't quite get what I feel is their just rewards in the end.

In this particular book, I did have a small problem relating to the male lead (but that may have been a personal bias). The female lead is worthy of her story and her son realistically portrayed (although she does do one amazingly stupid thing that has me questioning her intelligence level). Her friends and family deserve to be shot (figuratively, of course...then again, in some cases maybe not so figuratively). And her ESL students are gems (flawed but beautiful).

Bottom line. Read it. It's good stuff. Whether you get it from the library for a day's entertainment or whether you buy if for your keeper collection is going to be up to the taste of the individual.
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By LB on August 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
Did you ever watch American Idol and hear Simon say that the singer's performance was indulgent? That's what I thought of this book ... pure indulgence. I think I have a great vocabulary; however, she was just showing off....and it was distracting and unneccessary.

The plot was good; however, it seemed to have too many focal points. I would have rather read more about the developing relationship between Kat and Magnus. It seemed there were these great leaps...Kat wasn't interested in Magnus, then she liked him and then she loved him in a seriously short time. I usually don't have a problem with that quick of a romance; but it just seemed improbable based on the little amount of time they spent together.

I didn't really like the secondary characters either. Marcy was a character that wasn't needed, neither was her boss. The ending with the students seemed weird; they weren't that close. Zandra, Logan and the mother were just rude and mean.

I struggled to get through it and wished it was just about the likeable Kat and Magnus.
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