10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
What a terrible family!,
This review is from: Foreign Bodies (Paperback)
It is the 1950s and Bea Nightingale has taken leave from her teaching job in New York to visit Europe. Her dominating brother Marvin has inveigled her into finding his wayward son Julian who is "somewhere in Paris" and to persuade him to return home. She looks for him and fails in the task. She returns to New York and expects that she will hear no more from Marvin or the rest of his family. But Marvin is not put off so easily and attempts to bully Bea into travelling to France once more. The fact that she has a job to do is of no interest to him.
Bea has had little to do with her brother and his family for years but in the course of the book their lives overlap continually. Also emerging from long ago is her husband, a self-centred man who has found some success as a writer of film music.
Foreign Bodies begins superbly and I was immediately drawn into the shabby post-war atmosphere of Paris. It was easy to understand that Julian preferred a bohemian life with some vague ideas about writing rather than be in California in the stultifying company of his father. However as the book progressed I became more and more irritated by the characters. Bea is obviously a bright and independent woman so it seems odd that she didn't just tell her brother to get out of her life. Similarly she seems to be prepared to put up with incredible rudeness from both her ex-husband and her nephew and niece.
The writing, however, is terrific and apart from loathing most of the characters I enjoyed the book. I assume that the "foreign bodies" are not the Parisians or even Romanian Lili - but her own flesh and blood.