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The Old Man and Me

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  523 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
In The Dud Avocado, Elaine Dundy revealed the life of the young expatriate in Paris in all its hilarious and heartbreaking drama. With The Old Man and Me, written when Dundy was living in England in the early 1960s, she tackles the American girl in London, a bit older but certainly no wiser.

Honey Flood (if that’s her real name) arrives in London with only her quick wits a
Paperback, 231 pages
Published June 16th 2009 by NYRB Classics (first published 1964)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jan 26, 2012 Tosh rated it really liked it
The late and great Elaine Dundy is a very interesting woman, who lived near Book Soup and was a customer as well. Little did I know of her writing career till I read "The Dud Avocado" which is fantastic by the way. So her history is fascinating in that she was married to British theater critic great Kenneth Tynan and also wrote the first serious in depth biography on Elvis.

So of course "The Old Man and Me' would be of interest, but beyond that, it is quite a remarkable novel on various levels. T
May 27, 2009 Joy rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2009, arc
I was really hoping to love this book; the publisher's synopsis about "an early sixties London just beginning to swing" made it sound so attractive. But in the end, I thought the tale of Honey Flood and her quest to meet and win the affections of famous man-about-town C.D. McKee just fell flat. Dundy was a talented writer, but it seems to me she was trying a bit too hard to be cute and outrageous here. I wasn't charmed by Honey/Betsy Lou, or any of the other characters – except maybe C.D. himsel ...more
Jul 05, 2009 Jennie rated it liked it
I won't go so far as to say that is was a dud avocado, but I will say that is was no Dud Avocado, if you know what I mean.
Aug 11, 2009 Bridget rated it it was amazing
I find it impossible to review Elaine Dundy's books because I enjoy them SO MUCH that all I want to do is implore you to read this in all caps times 100. I should temper that by saying Dundy has created a nuanced portrait of a young woman living the heedless life of an ex-pat in 50's London/Paris perfectly. Her characters are infectiously likable even when they are being bitchy little monsters.
READ THIS to the 77th power.
Aug 28, 2009 Tanja rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Great book. With such a biting charm. And the character of the young woman is so wonderfully mercenary. Actually, there are a lot of not so nice characters in the book. But I still felt drawn in to their little stories, hang ups and foibles. And what a comeuppance! Did any of the characters really got what they wanted, or thought they wanted in the beginning? And I have to say, I did not guess how the main characters were connected. And the sentences just sparkled. A lot of little gems hiding in ...more
Jul 06, 2016 Katie rated it it was ok
Shelves: nyrb-classics
Vaguely amusing, but a sad, sad disappointment after the wonderful Dud Avocado.
Nov 30, 2009 Mandy rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book tremendously. Though the main character Honey/Betsy Lou is described on the blurb as plotting murder, and though she actually does take some action in that regard, this is an amusing book. I was reminded of Chick Lit, though Chick Lit is never this twisted.

Precis: Honey has lost her inheritance, and to regain it she need only kill the man who has it. So she changes her name to Betsy Lou, comes to London and worms her way into his affections. But things do not go to plan...

May 04, 2010 Abby rated it really liked it
Shelves: nyrb, funny
Mad props to NYRB for reprinting another brilliant and wickedly funny gem from Elaine Dundy with a PERFECT cover illustration and a whip-smart, irresistible heroine whom you can't help loving even if you suspect she may be crazy as a loon. Honey Flood (or so she calls herself) is a bright young American woman, recently arrived in London with no money but a plan so far-fetched and diabolical it just might succeed. To get into the particulars would ruin the plot, so let's just say it requires the ...more
Nov 26, 2010 DoctorM rated it really liked it
One of those wickedly clever and surprising comedies set in the lost wold of upper-class London there in the early Sixties, just as old certainties were dissolving and the Swinging England of the Carnaby Street era was making itself felt. Great heroine, great darkly-hilarious plot. All in all, one of those books that does need to be filmed, and filmed well.
Leah W
Feb 12, 2012 Leah W rated it really liked it
This was a delicately nasty book, with a heroine who was far less sympathetic than the not-that-sympathetic lead of Dundy's first novel, The Dud Avocado. While Honey's full motive isn't made clear until well into the book, her acid observations about mid-century London are delightful, and made me cheer her along in her half-heatedly evil plotting. It's not proto-chick lit, it's more like Rachel Papers-era Amis for dames.
Jan 15, 2011 Garret rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-classics
Dundy's second book was also quite good. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as The Dud Avocado The Dud Avocado by Elaine DundyElaine Dundybut it was excellent nevertheless.
Nov 27, 2011 Erin rated it it was amazing
One of the most hilarious and witty books I have ever read. It's such a sweet surprise when you find a book written forty years ago with a style so relatable today.

"I was no femme fatale, no trained courtesan; neither a Lorelei, nor an enchantress, nor a witch. I had no feeling for,and absolutely no belief in, the extra-mystical powers of my femininity. I was (yes, indeedy, I still am) a plain ordinary American girl. All-right looking; all right-even good-looking, attractive when well-groomed,
Janine Flood
This book was a delicious surprise. Elaine Dundy was a master of prose and one of the best writers of the 1st person voice that I have ever encountered. She has an economy in her writing that miraculously does not skimp on style and her cleverness at presenting exposition was brilliant. Many readers fault the book due to lack of sympathy for its protagonist. I, for one, loved Miss Honey Flood, and found myself rooting her on, and felt immensely sympathetic toward her. Is that a reflection upon m ...more
Feb 25, 2015 Brigid rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2011
I read this one while laying on the beach in Mexico, but somehow this novel still made me pine for the drafty pubs of London. In the Dud Avocado, Dundy reveals the life of the young expatriate in Paris. Now, her female protagonist living in London is a bit older, but no wiser. This would be a self-indulgent Sex and the City meets 1960s London if it weren't for Dundy's fierce, blunt and beautiful prose. I do not understand why Dundy doesn't have more of a following.

"I sighed and shook my weary he
Aug 02, 2012 Cerealflakes rated it really liked it
I am surprised that Elaine Dundy isn't more known. While the author and main character are American, it is set in London and full of characters from the upper levels of the British classes. The book is mostly about Honey and CD, but it is also about expectations, class and cultural differences. The writing is very quick and the dialogue is well-written. Yes, the characters are not likable, but it didn't matter to me in this book. The characters fit the story so well, they are just a part of the ...more
For a book that was released in the mid-1960s, The Old Man and Me feels entirely fresh. Our young protagonist, who has her eyes on the titular old man for not-so-pure motives, is a bit of an anti-heroine and yet you can’t help but empathize with her. It helps that she has such an intelligent, wry, no-nonsense voice with which she narrates the story. Loved the piercing, often funny, musings on trans-Atlantic differences with the English constantly pointing out how uncivilized America is and our A ...more
Sep 10, 2012 Rebecca rated it liked it
Very similar to Dundy's book The Dud Avocado, this one takes place in London rather than Paris, and I think I liked it a little bit more. Pacing was pretty good although it got off to a slightly slow start, and I enjoyed the ending. Still trying to decide how much was supposed to be symbolism between the relationships of America and England, and how much was purely capturing the spirit of the age and the idea of an anti-heroine. But I recommend it—entertaining and not just fluff, which is always ...more
Dec 03, 2012 Abigail rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
In the introduction, Dundy talks about how one has to be either a monster or a doormat. The primary plot concerns a young American woman trying to fully embrace her monster side in order to get what she believes is her right. The differences between British/American cultures and youth/age are also discussed throughout the book. It was interesting to see in the early '60s how little Great Britain had changed from earlier in the century. For the most, part it seemed like I could have been reading ...more
Feb 19, 2013 Seth rated it it was amazing
I should read more fun books like this one. I finish them quickly and learn a lot.
Grabbed this copy from the Moses Bookmobile last week. I was struck by a Gore Vidal blurb: "A splendid, destructive work." And the cover looked leisurely and poised and suitable for a 3 day weekend at The Elms.
I'll try Dundy's Dud Avacodo on the basis of this one, and definitely read more New York Review books.
Carol Smith
Mar 08, 2013 Carol Smith rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Carol by: Seth
Now that's a protagonist. Honey Flood - if indeed that's your real name - you are a pip. You are the original Gone Girl. Evil and ambiguity served up straight, with crisply delineated characters and deliciously purposeful prose. Definitely reading The Dud Avocado.
Mar 03, 2013 Michelle rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book (maybe more than The Dud Avocado??). The sly deviousness and deprecating wit of the anti-heroine was entertaining to no end. Also for a book that is 50 years old it did not seem extremely dated. The ending was just perfect, which I don't say too often!

Loved this: "All right, I was wacky. I was cracking up, but I'll never be the same again as in that litmus-paper state where if you held my hand in yours for a minute your imprint was on me for ever, where my shadow per
Oct 19, 2014 S. rated it really liked it
This is a wickedly funny and frighteningly accurate depiction of a Crazy Geezer Chaser. It has enhanced my understanding of human behavior, but left me even more jaded than before. I knew of several Geezer Chasers in my early thirties. Money and status were their goals and dirty old men were their Lotto tickets.
I didn't know the Malibu Barbie Bimbo Brigade well, but I remember overhearing some terribly sad conversations in the ladies' room of a certain bar frequented by them. Their mating cal
After reading The Dud Avocado last summer, I was eager to read something else by Elaine Dundy. I liked The Dud Avocado, but I loved The Old Man and Me.

The Old Man and Me starts out with the same mid-century American girl abroad as The Dud Avocado, but it quickly morphs into a revenge and intrigue plot. It's very easy to give a lot of it away, so I'll try not to say any more besides that the plot unfolds very neatly and there is a lot more complexity to it than a simple means to revenge.

Go read
Mo Ibrahim
Aug 25, 2013 Mo Ibrahim rated it liked it


Women crave attention, but who, male or female, doesn't appreciate some positive attention. And what could be a better way for a young woman to get some [positive] attention than to be seen with an older man?

I mentioned in The Allure of Nymphets about what Elaine Dundy wrote in The Old Man and Me on this topic. In the novel, C.D., Honey’s fifty-six-year-old love interest, reminded the young woman about the bonus of them being
Martin Geiger
Nov 05, 2013 Martin Geiger rated it really liked it
It looked like ordinary satire - young American girl crosses the pond, attempts to seduce and fake her way through London literary scene, etc. I was wrong. Dundy's main character is a monster of appetites and hatreds, a truly terrible person who manages to be a delightful narrator. The blackest and (eventually) bleakest of black comedies. The early sections read a little like Waugh with added vitriol, but it rises to a pretty frightening crack-up, and a nicely disquieting end.
Oct 12, 2014 Tommy rated it it was amazing
I love Dundy's use of words and writing style. She perfectly captures the flippant and emotionally immature persona of the protagonist in the process of telling a very interesting story about a young woman who feels cheated out of her inheritance and the lengths she is willing to go to get what's hers.

Among other things, this work provokes deeper thought and exploration of the ennui and excesses of both the wealthy and youth, the need to recapture one's lost youth as we age, power dynamics betwe
Kristin Dow
Dec 12, 2015 Kristin Dow rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Loved the vibe and bad girl angle of this book. Has a creepy undertone, but I remained hooked. Highly skilled writing.
Feb 23, 2016 Kristen rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrea Dowd
Mar 04, 2016 Andrea Dowd rated it really liked it
I would consider Elaine Dundy to be the older sister or cool step-sister to Sylvia Plath. Her writing is clear and while still tapping the hallmarks of a youth during the early 60s, avoids going into treacle territory like Plath seems to do for me once in a while.

The story of Honey Flood starts the reader out thinking that this young woman was on the prowl for some rich celebrity and had yet to happen upon him. She's disillusioned and discouraged by London. Once she does find the man, her story
Kiely Marie
Oct 04, 2016 Kiely Marie rated it it was amazing
Let me preface this by saying that Elaine Dundy can certainly write and I wish that she had made more novels in her lifetime. The Old Man and Me was a very entertaining and funny book, with an unreliable narrator, a plot I didn't at all expect from the summary on the back cover, and surprises on every page. Honey Flood's voice was so pessimistic and mad at everything England and Europe stood for that it was really funny to read. Most of all I loved the exploration of the differences between Engl ...more
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NYRB Classics: The Old Man and Me, by Elaine Dundy 1 4 Oct 29, 2013 11:15AM  
Elaine Dundy's two novels 1 5 Aug 31, 2013 01:29PM  
  • Wish Her Safe at Home
  • Seduction and Betrayal: Women and Literature
  • Great Granny Webster
  • Cassandra at the Wedding
  • Pitch Dark
  • The Engagement
  • Eustace and Hilda
  • The Outward Room
  • A Meaningful Life
  • Indian Summer
  • Mary Olivier, a Life
  • Mr. Fortune's Maggot; and, The Salutation
  • A Way of Life, Like Any Other
  • A Game of Hide and Seek (Virago Modern Classics)
  • My Face for the World to See
  • The Unpossessed
  • Apartment in Athens
  • The Other House
Elaine Dundy (1921–2008) grew up in New York City and Long Island. After graduating from Sweet Briar College in 1943 she worked as an actress in Paris and, later, London, where she met her future husband, the theater critic Kenneth Tynan. Dundy wrote three novels, The Dud Avocado (1958), The Old Man and Me (1964), and The Injured Party (1974); a play, My Place (produced in 1962); biographies of El ...more
More about Elaine Dundy...

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“I had nothing better to do, had I, except recount my money and repaint my finger-nails and die of frustration?” 3 likes
“Thanks for the hint," I laughed. "And thanks for the invitation too. Only I don't know if I can make it - " I stalled automatically, marveling at the strength of my reflex - the never-appear-too-eager one, for of course nothing would have stopped me.” 3 likes
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