Helynne's Reviews > Lulu in Marrakech

Lulu in Marrakech by Diane Johnson
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Nov 02, 10

Read from June 16 to November 02, 2010

I have been a fan of Diane Johnson since reading her novels Le Divorce, Le Mariage, and L'Affaiare, which are all about Americans living in France and struggling with cultural differences and snafus. Lulu in Marrakech lacks some of the more vibrant plot points I was used to in Johnson, but the plot is less important than the small taste of Moroccan culture and the glance into the lives of Muslim women that Johnson provides. Lulu herself is a somewhat annoying heroine. As a CIA agent, she is sent to Marrakech ostensibly to seek out connections of Western money donors to Muslim terrorists. Conveniently, Lulu has an old boyfrined, Englishman Ian Drumm, who lives in Marrakech and is willing to let her move into his villa and rekindle their romance while remaining ignorant of her CIA connection. Unfortunately, the storyline is flat and confusing. The romance between Lulu and Ian is dull, the other British and American characters are bland, and even the Muslim characters are a little too stereotypical. Lulu's work as a spy seems incredibly sporatic and dull. James Bond, she is not! Even a seemingly serious assignment deteriorates into disastrous incompetence and pointless tragedy. Lots of loose ends are not tied up, but left dangling, much to the reader's frustration. Nevertheless, Johnson makes some points about the repression of Muslim women and such horrific practices as "honor killings" and obsession with female virginity that should be brought out to an American reading public. I am not an expert on Morocco, but I have visited briefly Marrakech and other Moroccan cities and found that Johnson's descriptions brought back some pleasant memories about the culture, decor, and cuisine. In typical Johnson fashion, there are also some speculations about cultural differences between Americans, Moroccans, and French, as well as between Christians and Muslims that plague this admirable, but troubled, culture.
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