Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Lulu in Marrakech” as Want to Read:
Lulu in Marrakech
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Lulu in Marrakech

2.55  ·  Rating details ·  842 Ratings  ·  203 Reviews
Lulu Sawyer arrives in Marrakech, Morocco, hoping to rekindle her romance with a worldly Englishman, Ian Drumm. It's the perfect cover for her assignment with the American CIA: tracing the flow of money from well-heeled donors to radical Islamic groups. While spending her days poolside and her nights at lively dinner parties, Lulu observes the fragile coexistence of two cu ...more
Kindle Edition, 332 pages
Published (first published September 3rd 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Lulu in Marrakech, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Lulu in Marrakech

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Drusilla Campbell
Oct 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book haunts me. While I found it tedious in places and not quite believable in others, I continued to read out of a sense of horrified fascination, not even sure what it was about. Only at the end did I realize that Lulu is an avatar for the United States and its hopeless relations with Arab nations. She doesn't understand the culture and would rather hold to her biases than learn anything new. She's judgmental and superficial, full of high sounding pronouncements, lacking committment to an ...more
This is by far the worst book I can ever remember reading. On average, I read 2-3 books a week ..... and have since I was a teen... 20 years ago. I'M TELLING YOU, THIS IS THE WORST.

I have a personality defect that makes it impossible for me to not finish a book. In this case, by page 47 I would have burned my copy ... except that it was a library book AND the first choice of our newly formed book club. The only way I could force myself through to the end was to bookmark each page that truly off
Nov 17, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's likely I will never again read one of Diane Johnson's novels. Despite being one of the most interesting and intelligent American authors around, she insists upon wasting her talent inventing tales featuring tiresome, silly heroines with no morals. In book after book we are confronted with what could be a fascinating story but the main character is so vapid and predictable that we lose interest rapidly. I had to force myself to stay the course un
Nov 09, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
How could a book called Lulu in Marrakech fail to please?! I was seduced by the saucy title, the potential of an arm-chair adventure in an exotic city, and the reputation of the author as a finalist for the National Book Award. But, you certainly can't judge a book by its cover.

It could just as well have been Lulu in Minneapolis for all the local colour provided about Morocco and the protagonist was such a cardboard cut-out of a woman that I marvel the author was stimulated enough by her own wri
Dec 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Lulu in Marrakech had a very interesting premise, but I was disappointed in the book. It never really captivated my attention in the way I expected. Lulu Sawyer is an American agent who is sent to Marrakech to provide intelligence information on who is funding a group of terrorists. A man she has recently been involved with, Ian, has a home there, providing her with a good cover. As Lulu becomes involved with a group of other foreigners to Marrakech, both her assignment and her personal life in ...more
Oct 28, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whoa! Terribly bad reviews in the NYT! ( bought the book prior to seeing them) I feel for Diane Johnson; she even reviews for that publication. Perhaps those reviewers should stay away from the Left Bank in Paris, where she lives part of the year. ( By the way DJ's book about the Latin Quarter was a wonderful handbook when I stayed there over a year ago- I'll add it to shelves) , I have always liked D.J's light social comedies which focus on Americans abroad. Perhaps they resonate with me as a f ...more
Sue Davis
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-author
Excellent. I was intrigued by the way the private and public kept intersecting. The narrator frequently complained that her romantic feelings interfered with her ability to concentrate on her work and that the solution might be simply to not have any private life at all or to get married and simply enjoy the sensual side of life. The narrator was a somewhat bumbling low achiever, who seemed to have limited self-awareness but tried to do the right thing without knowing what that was exactly. Sati ...more
Nov 07, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was excited for a fun, suspenseful, international flavored book. It wasn't really fun or suspenseful, and I didn't even feel like I really learned much at all about another culture. There wasn't even a good message. I wouldn't recommend it.
Apr 27, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
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 st
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Diane Johnson novel, and may well be my last. It's inconceivable this author has been lauded for her writing, based on this book. Grammatical errors aside, Johnson has painted a vision of entitled Americans and Brits abroad in Marrakech, almost none of whom are likable characters, least of all the title character, Lulu.

Ostensibly a covert CIA operative, Lulu has the brain of a fruitfly and the morals of a housecat. The reader is subjected to an internal monologue throughout th
Jul 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A young-ish CIA agent (Lulu) is stationed in Marrakech because her lover provides the perfect cover as well as an entree into the local expatriot scene. She is to collect information about the flow of money through non-profit organizations to terrorists. The mission is passive and nebulous and gives Lulu plenty of time to obsess about her lover and their relationship. Johnson uses this set-up to consider the cultural conflicts both between Western societies as well as those between Westerners an ...more
Jason McKinney
Sep 19, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No One, except maybe Romance Novel Fans
Recommended to Jason by: I don't recall
I gave this one the 'old 50 page test' and it didn't pass. I gave up after realizing that it was Johnson's trademark society/culture clashing comedy mixed with North African terrorism, Muslim Women's Issues and the CIA. The combination just didn't work very well. The worst part were the epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter; passages from the Koran and quotations from Shakespeare just didn't make a lot of sense in terms of the overall plot...they seemed pretty forced to me.
Rowland Pasaribu
To put a mix of different culture into a popular plot, woooww it needs an serious research moreover if the background were settled on "perennial eye infection of colonialism" for example: a gender relation.

If you did this well, it's easy to get a literature noble (at least an nominated) but if you failed... he...he..he you'll need a stronghold for your ears and eyes from the stakeholder...

A lot of Johnson's readers seem to have expected Lulu in Marrakech to be just like La Divorce. How can it be
Lulu (not her real name) is flying to Marrakech to work on literacy programs (not her real mission), where she will be staying with the English lover she met on a previous assignment (yes, yes, this part is true, although the Brit doesn’t know he’s Lulu’s cover). This is all very secretive, very hush-hush. And that is because Lulu is in the intelligence business. She travels under false pretenses, mingles, listens and observes. In this post-9/11 world, she’s been sent to Northern Africa to dig u ...more
I don't think I can find enough adjectives to describe how much I disliked this book.

My issues are as follows:
-Even though there was a plot to the story, there was no climax.
-In hindsight, many of the characters and moments in the story were completely pointless. Really, in what way did Peggy Whitworth further the story along???
-Lulu, the main character, was pretty dense most of the time and not a very good CIA agent.
-There was no resolution for any character or for the storyline! What happens
Sep 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A satire about an "ordinary" woman who is an intelligence agent precisely because she seems like such a lightweight character who would not arouuse suspicions. But the world of terrorism exists as "poisonous vapors coming up from a chink in a terrible netherworld, and she temporarily succumbs to those "vapors" and reacts, causing some unintended deaths. At the end, she simply is reassigned, and seems to forget what her job has cost in terms of human lives. Lulu in Marrakech
Bookmarks Magazine
Though bearing the admirable fascination for culture clash that Johnson has made her signature over the years, Lulu in Marrakech is nonetheless problematic in its unbelievable protagonist, plot, and treatment of international issues. Lulu Googles refugee camps in the western Sahara and analyzes cocktail party gossip
Jul 15, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2009
I tried to like this book but just couldn't... I found Lulu to be both unbelievable (how did she get to be a CIA operative when she is so unobservant?) and boring. She spent the entire book professing her love for Ian and then left him, saying she had to before she was arrested (for a botched CIA operation she was involved in), when she could have convinced him to move with her instead.
Mar 19, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sold-back-to-hpb
To quote a review on "Newly-appointed CIA operative Lulu Sawyer is about as endearing as a retarded tarantula (dumb and dangerous)." Amen.
Just. Could. Not. Finish. It.
Mary Anne
I really wanted to like this book, but it came up short for me. I like Diane Johnson, so I thought it would work. The problem is the main character. Lulu is an employee of the CIA, an intelligence operative, and this is one of her early assignments. So she's fairly green. She is staying in Marrakech with Ian, with whom she has had a fling in the not-so-distant past. The reader is kept a bit off kilter about whether Ian can be trusted. But Lulu is really just using him, or so she tells herself, u ...more
Miranda Kube
Basic Synopsis: Lulu is some kind of CIA agent. What her job description, training or real use fullness is, we are never told. She is assigned to Marrakech to try and find what part of the ex-pat community there is secretly funding terrorist cells. Fortunately, she can just stay with a guy she was hooking up with in Kosovo when she was there on assignment, being an aide worker as a cover.

My honest opinion; Very anti-climatic. The promise of a CIA thriller falls through cause she hardly does ANYT
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 ...more
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fun-slash-junk
Johnson has also written "Le Divorce" and "Le Mariage," which are cute and set in Paris and I do remember enjoying when I read in, like, high school. So obviously I love Marrakech, love Morocco, and was interested in reading this, which is about a lady spy.

Dry, dry, dry. It almost didn't seem believable that Lulu would be an American, because her first-person narration is SO incredibly dry and emotionless. Are we sure she's not supposed to be the paragon of British restraint? No, she's American.
Apr 25, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A title like Lulu in Marrakech suggests something exotic and colourful - but I found this book colourless. It felt as though the author had created a good plot, written an outline, then only half-developed it and her characters.

The narrator talked about being in love, or being upset to see her lover with someone else - but I had trouble believing her, because her tone was so dispassionate. The words were on the page, but they felt curiously bloodless, and I couldn't get involved. There were two
Diana Bogan
Nov 24, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The most masterfully written part of this book is the jacket cover. The promotional quotes offered by the likes of "Vogue" "O. The Oprah Magazine" and "The Washington Post Book Review" leave me hugely suspect as to whether anyone from those outfits actually read this book. And I'm equally mystified that this wasn't this author's first attempt at writing novel.

I was dissatisfied because most of the book read like a series of character analyses - as if the author herself was trying to map out who
I found Le Divorce completely insufferable and wasn't surprised to dislike this book, but I was kind of shocked that she decided to place one of her comedy of manners involving Euro-American cultural differences in the middle of the war on terror. I guess I just don't find extraordinary rendition all that funny.

Unlike some reviewers, I am not so confident of the CIA's competence to assume they would not hire someone as dimwitted as Lulu. She's no Jack Bauer.

As for the romance, the character of
Jul 17, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Morocco is utterly gorgeous and culturally fascinating, and I have been there, so it takes nothing for me to pick up a book set there. In this case, that's highly unfortunate.

The spy plot was competent enough, apart from the fact that it didn't have a proper conclusion. And apart from the fact that Lulu is incompetent. Seriously, I did more research for a 14 day guided tour than she did before going on an undercover operation for the CIA. She displays virtually no tradecraft and is utterly obliv
Nicole Overmoyer
This book only cost fifty cents. It was worth that. But I'm glad I didn't pay more.

The premise, CIA agent girl in love with a rich British guy in the romantic city of Marrakech, had so much promise. At least on the dust jacket. Maybe even the first fifty pages.

Then the story gets cluttered.

It's only just have 300 pages so that's fairly short. Lulu, Ian, Robin, Posy, Gazi, Khaled, Suma, Pierre, Taft, Walt, Tom, Habiba, Barka, Pring, Nancy, Mrs. Cotter, Mr. Cotter, Madame Frank, Amid, Lord Drumm,
Mar 24, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit
Lulu in Marrakech was for me a victim of preconceived notions. Lulu Sawyer--the alias of a novice CIA field agent--narrates her time in Marrakech with the mission of tracing how money flows to radical Islamist groups. Lulu does not fit the part, or perhaps she internalized her cover story too well -- coming to Marrakech to continue a romance with Englishman Ian Drumm while working on female literacy on the side. Without prior research, she doesn't know what she's getting into and worries when Ia ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Shavetail
  • The Threadbare Heart
  • Girl Mary
  • Socialite Evenings
  • Choices That Change Lives: 15 Ways to Find More Purpose, Meaning, and Joy
  • Trauma
  • Sun Going Down: A Novel
  • Nadia's Song
  • Tofu Quilt
  • Lake With No Name: A True Story Of Love And Conflict In Modern China
  • The God of War
  • American Adulterer
  • Pretty is What Changes: Tough Choices, the Breast Cancer Gene, and Learning How to Live in the DNA Age
  • Red on Red
  • Smart Girls Like Me
  • Appassionata
  • Once in a Promised Land
  • The Calligrapher's Secret
Diane Johnson is an American born novelist and essayist whose satirical novels often contain American heroines living abroad in contemporary France.

Born in Moline, Illinois, Johnson's recent books include L'Affaire (2004), Le Mariage (2000), and Le Divorce (1997) for which she was a National Book Award finalist and the winner of the California Book Awards gold medal for fiction.

More about Diane Johnson...

Fiction Deals

  • War Brides
    $3.99 $2
  • Bluebeard
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Madonnas of Leningrad
    $10.74 $2.99
  • Orphan Train Girl
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Want Not
    $14.95 $2.99
  • Finding Rebecca
    $5.49 $1.99
  • The Baker's Daughter
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson)
    $2.99 $0.99
  • The Twelve-Mile Straight
    $14.99 $2.99
  • The Long Way Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Cafe by the Sea
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Everybody's Son
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Restaurant Critic's Wife
    $3.99 $2
  • The Word Game
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Cats Are Weird: And More Observations
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Lace Makers of Glenmara
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Wake Up
    $4.99 $2
  • The Way to London: A Novel of World War II
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Abby's Journey
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Ask the Dust
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Kings of Broken Things
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Saving Abby
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Vanessa and Her Sister
    $13.99 $2.99
  • The King's Mistress
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Midnight Sun (The Northern Lights Series, No 3)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Cement Garden (Ian McEwan Series Book 2)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Under the Wide and Starry Sky
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen
    $14.95 $1.99
  • The Fountain Overflows (The Saga of the Century Book 1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Cove
    $7.49 $1.99
  • The Secret Healer (The Secret Healer #1)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • Fat Chance
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Jailbird
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
    $15.95 $1.99
  • Mrs. Saint and the Defectives
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Fire by Night
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Bagombo Snuff Box
    $8.99 $1.99
  • If I Was Your Girl
    $9.99 $2.99