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 Affairs remains an enduring comic masterpiece.
REVIEW: 5 STARS
Foreign Affairs is a substantial comedy of manners, which delivers an astonishingly lucid comparison between aspects of British and American culture seldom considered in fiction while also introducing a decidedly unlikeable character and allowing the reader to witness her gradual, discreet change into someone rather different. It’s dramatic, unsparingly witty, emotional, and absolutely overwhelming in terms of the sharp social X-ray it presents.
This is my first Alison Lurie book, an oversight I plan to correct. She is, I gather, contemporary American literature at its best.