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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie

Foreign Affairs--oh, what a wonderful discovery!  This is my first book by Alison Lurie, and it won the 1984 National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1985. 

First Line:  On a cold blowy February day a woman is boarding the ten A.M. flight to London, followed by an invisible dog.

I loved this book.  It is witty and serious, a light sauce over a rich dessert full of complex flavors.  

I loved the characters and their gradual enlightenment:  Fred, the handsome young professor, recently separated from his wife and finding his research in London a lonely proposition;  Vinnie, in her fifties, small and plain, but a determined Anglophile whose research grant gives her five months in England.  Vinnie and Fred are colleagues from the same American university, but their age difference and divergent interests mean they are acquaintances, not friends.  Lurie keeps their stories separate for the most part, but she does intend for the reader to note the contrasts in all manner of ways.  

Vinnie surprised me.  She undergoes a genuine transformation in her world view.  Her way of dealing with difficulties in her life amused me, and I found her, with all of her flaws, delightful.

Highly recommended!

NetGalley/Open Road Integrated Media.

Literary Fiction.  1984; 2013.  Print version:  304 pages.
  • ISBN-10: 0812976312


  1. An invisible dog? LOL I'm curious just based on that comment but being an Anglophile, I have a feeling I'd really enjoy this one. Great review1

  2. I've only read one Alison Lurie book and really enjoyed it but this one has been on my list for a long time. Glad to hear it was a great read! I'm curious about the invisible dog too :)

  3. Nancy -- :) Yep, and a great character in his own right!

    Teresa -- I really liked it, and I will definitely look for more by Alison Lurie.

    Ilianna -- Lurie was definitely a new name for me, but since she won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction with this novel, I'm probably the only one who is unfamiliar with her!