Sara's Reviews > Lulu in Marrakech

Lulu in Marrakech by Diane Johnson
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Apr 28, 09

bookshelves: 2009, adult-fiction, chick-lit
Recommended for: no one
Read in April, 2009

After reading this book, I fail to understand how the author has been nominated multiple times for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Maybe, as others have noted, it's just this book that is bad; unfortunately, I was not inspired enough by the book to want to read any more of the author's works. But who knows, maybe I will sometime.

In Lulu in Marrakech, the title character heads to Morocco on a covert CIA assignment under the pretense of reconnecting with a former lover, Ian. She stays in Ian's house and gets to know his neighbors and friends, which includes a girl named Suma who fled France to avoid an honor killing, a married Saudi woman named Gazi who may be having an affair, and a pregnant woman named Posy who becomes one of Lulu's friends. There is also Lulu's handler, who she communicates with by email, her spy contact in Marrakech, and various others who round out the story. Lulu's not exactly sure what she's supposed to be looking for in Marrakech (which means I'm not exactly sure what she's doing there...), but she dutifully reports everything to her handler and waits to be told what to do next.

The writing itself it fitting for the story. Instead of being a fast-paced spy novel, as I expected, the writing is almost dreamy, as if you're seeing the action unfold behind some gauzy fabric. It was off-putting at first, but I ultimately enjoyed this style because the way of life in Marrakech seemed much the same. I enjoyed the story too, trying to figure out what was going to happen and who was going to turn out to be someone else.

However (and this is a HUGE however - the basis for the book only receiving 2 stars), the book went nowhere. There are so many loose ends at the end of the book that virtually nothing is tied up or explained. I wondered what the point of me sloshing through all 300 pages was for absolutely no climax! The book just sort of... ended. And there were so many things that I wanted answers for! Very frustrating.

It seemed like the author was trying to do too much with the story - a spy novel, a thriller, chick lit, a mystery, a discourse on social mores, etc. - and ultimately did none of these things well. There was a lot of discussion about the roles of women in different cultures and lots of talk about religion, which was interesting, but it came at the expense of a real plot and real conclusion.

Would I recommend this book to others? No.
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