David Newman's Reviews > Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie
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May 16, 10

Read in January, 2010

This delightful little novel is lighter fare than the typical Pulitzer winner. Don’t look for a deep exploration of universal truth or a treatise on the meaning of life. That is not to say that this is mere fluff. Lurie has plenty to say about both the dark and more noble faces of Human nature. Her insights though, served with a generous dose of restrained humor, are as delectable as a maple sugar candy melting on your tongue. While an undercurrent of humor is sustained throughout the work, this is not slapstick or uproarious comedy. Although continually amused, I only laughed out loud a few times. In a fashion not dissimilar to the following year’s Pulitzer Prize winner, Lonesome Dove, Lurie mixes pathos and humor in a way that feels like life itself. As is McMurtry she is easy and enjoyable to read. And also like McMurtry she never sacrifices entertainment on the altar of profundity. If you are like me, this novel and its characters will grow on you. At first, I will admit I was a bit bored, and wondered what all the fuss was about. However, by the time I was about a third of the way into the story I was thoroughly hooked. Ultimately, Vinnie Miner, the novel’s unlikely heroine proves to be a more interesting, creative and believable character than Fred Turner, her hapless male counterpart. Vinnie is quirky and original enough to be totally unforgettable. And yet she is so familiar you will keep searching for who she reminds you of, certain that you have known someone just like her even though you can’t quite come up with it. The unexpected plot twists which in a more serious work would seem contrived and disingenuous are forgiven here for their entertainment value. I highly recommend this novel to the reader looking for a lighter, but still intelligent, read.
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