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L'affaire
2003
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Characters
Amy Hawkins (Female), Entrepreneur, American, Wealthy, Naive, Traveling in France
Genre
Coming of age
Humor
Satire
Fiction
Topics
Young women
Wealthy lifestyles
Travel
Americans in foreign countries
Avalanches
Coma patients
Family relationships
Love affairs
Cultural differences
Scandal
Setting
Valmeri, France - Europe
Alps, France - Europe
Mountains
Time Period
2000s -- 21st century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

The French, the English, and a bright-eyed American named Amy Hawkins square off at a resort in the French Alps, where rich British publisher Adrian Venn lies comatose after encounters with an avalanche. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

In Le Divorce and Le Mariage, Johnson polished her skill for sophisticated social comedy involving the cultural disconnections of Americans in France. Here, she perfects it in a deliciously entertaining story of a group of people drawn together-and divided by-the sharply different laws of succession in France and Britain. Amy Hawkins, a beautiful, na?ve, suddenly very rich Californian dot-com entrepreneur, comes to a posh ski resort in the French Alps as part of her plan for cultural self-improvement. When she generously pays for transporting the dying Adrian Venn, a publisher crushed in a landslide, back to his native England, her humanitarian gesture backfires with exquisite irony. Venn's two grown English children, his illegitimate French daughter, his new, much younger American wife and their toddler son become embroiled in a classic scenario of quarreling heirs, each seething with expectations at the expense of the others. Add a stuffy British solicitor who disdains French customs, his French counterpart who equally despises the English, an intellectual and TV personality who demonizes Americans, a lusty Austrian baron, a chic Parisienne hostess and other expertly drawn characters, and the comedy moves into high gear, but never at the expense of insights into human nature. Johnson's dexterity with plot builds astounding but credible complications, and she is adept at rendering a kind of fugal counterpoint in which each character misunderstands what each of the others thinks. Because love and money are never far apart in Johnson's oeuvre, four affairs take place, with mixed results. Johnson is more droll than Henry James, to whom she's been compared, and she's as witty as a modern-day Voltaire. Vraiment, L'Affaire, c'est irresistible! Author tour. (Sept. 29) Forecast: The August 8 release of Le Divorce from Fox Searchlight/Merchant Ivory will build instant interest in this novel, which should fly off bookstore shelves. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Summary
Diane Johnson returns with another expatriate comedy of manners in this tale of a young dot-com executive from California who sets off for Europe to find culture, her roots, and maybe a cause to devote her considerable fortune to. When Amy checks into one of the finest small hotels in the French Alps - a hotel noted for skiing and for cooking lessons - she encounters a memorable cast of Euro trash aristocrats and ski enthusiasts. She has no plans to fall in love. But on the first afternoon, she is nearly swept away by an avalanche. Johnson's unerring ear for the cadences of the two cultures, her wit, and her shrewd insight into contemporary manners make her latest work a treat for fans of transatlantic relations.<br> <br> "If one were to cross Jane Austen and Henry James, the result would be Diane Johnson." (San Francisco Chronicle)
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