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Lunch » Tags » Book » Reviews » Foreign Affairs: A Novel » User review

A fun story of academics abroad.

  • Feb 10, 2008
Rating:
+3
This book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1984. While there is nothing particularly profound about it, it is a very readable, well-paced addition to the 'academics abroad' genre. The story is reminiscent of David Lodge's excellent "Changing Places". However, where Lodge's two academics are English and American transplants, respectively, Lurie follows the progress of two American academics, each on a 6-month leave in London.

One of the pleasures of this particular genre is the author's freedom to allow characters to develop in unexpected ways. Lurie takes full advantage, particularly for the older (and more interesting) of her two main protagonists, Vinnie Miner, a professor of English in her mid-fifties. Indeed, the author has said that the main theme she wanted to explore in the book was the way in which people living abroad, freed of pre-existing expectations, can change their lives, sometimes quite drastically. (As an immigrant to the U.S., who still has family in Ireland, the question of how one's identity can morph with a simple change of longitude is one to which I can definitely relate.)

Lurie tells a good story, in a voice that is smart and appealing. Although she juggles her various plotlines and romantic liaisons expertly, the conclusion is not entirely convincing. However, this is a minor flaw in an otherwise excellent story, skillfully told.

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More Foreign Affairs: A Novel reviews
review by . May 08, 2013
Alison Lurie's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a work that explores love and all its complexities through two polar opposite academics who teach at the same ivy league school: the factitious Corinth University.    One academic is the aging spinster professor, Virginia Miner, a published scholar who also happens to be a respected expert in the study of children's literature, with a particular emphasis on nursery and playground rhymes. An Anglophile at heart, she feels more at …
review by . July 04, 2008
Alison Lurie's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a work that explores love and all its complexities through two polar opposite academics who teach at the same ivy league school: the factitious Corinth University.    One academic is the aging spinster professor, Virginia Miner, a published scholar who also happens to be a respected expert in the study of children's literature, with a particular emphasis on nursery and playground rhymes. An Anglophile at heart, she feels more at …
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WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

Virginia Miner, a fifty-something, unmarried tenured professor, is in London to work on her new book about children’s folk rhymes. Despite carrying a U.S. passport, Vinnie feels essentially English and rather looks down on her fellow Americans. But in spite of that, she is drawn into a mortifying and oddly satisfying affair with an Oklahoman tourist who dresses more Bronco Billy than Beau Brummel.

Also in London is Vinnie’s colleague Fred Turner, a handsome, flat broke, newly separated, and thoroughly miserable young man trying to focus on his own research. Instead, he is distracted by a beautiful and unpredictable English actress and the world she belongs to.

Both American, both abroad, and both achingly lonely, Vinnie and Fred play out their confused alienation and dizzying romantic liaisons in Alison Lurie’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Smartly written, poignant, and witty,Foreign Affairsremains an enduring comic masterpiece.

“A splendid comedy, very bright, brilliantly written in a confident and original manner. The best book by one of our finest writers.”
–Elizabeth Hardwick

“There is no American writer I have read with more constant pleasure and sympathy. . . .Foreign Affairsearns the same shelf as Henry James and Edith Wharton.”
–John Fowles

“If you manage to read only a few good novels a year, make this one of them.”
USA Today

“An ingenious, touching
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Details

ISBN-10: 0812976312
ISBN-13: 978-0812976311
Author: Alison Lurie
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks

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