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Le Divorce (William Abrahams Book)by Diane Johnson
Synopses & Reviews
Diane Johnson, two-time finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, a noted observer of our times, has written a sparkling contemporary novel on Americans abroad that is hilariously insightful.
When California girl Isabel Walker, film school dropout, comes to visit her stepsister Roxy in Paris, she arrives on the day that Roxy's French husband, Charles-Henri de Persand, has left her for another woman. Roxy is distraught and pregnant. Charles-Henri's powerful and prestigious French family is counseling patience and acceptance, Isabel is soon caught up in the romantic intrigue: and Roxy's parents are just as soon on their way to France to lend their daughter support. Add to all of this a contretemps over a painting belonging to the Walkers but given by Roxy as a wedding gift to her husband, which turns out to be extremely valuable. It is, as the French say, a situation.
It is also the basis for a comedy of manners that looks with delicious wit at cultures and carnal desires in collision; at the absurd way in which love can lead us toward grand tragedy or, at least, toward jealous crimes of the heart. Le Divorceis a literary French treat, served with exquisite prose, superb plotting and much fun.
"A shrewd, carefully detailed portrait of the ways in which Americans and the French continue to romanticize, denigrate, and misapprehend each other, contained in a well-paced, believably dramatic narrative." Kirkus Reviews
"What makes Diane Johnson such a rewarding novelist (and travel writer) is her vivid, can-the-bullshit tone. Her new novel, Le Divorce, is thick with frank observation — about sex, manners, food, money — of the kind that illuminates all of her work, and it lifts the novel high above those of most other mid-career American writers. A critic at heart, Johnson scorns flowery prose and aching 'sensitivity,' preferring to get her hands dirty poking around in the human condition. She's a treat to read." Dwight Garner, Salon
"Johnson's control of her material is impeccable. The world of American expatriates is fertile territory for her ironic wit, which is both subtle and sharp. Everything here delights the reader..." Publishers Weekly
"[A]n excellently observed social and moral comedy...a genuinely wise and humane novel, by a very good writer." Malcolm Bradbury, The New York Times Book Review
"It's hard to sympathize with any of the heartless characters profiled in this complex morality tale, in which everyone is, to some degree, corrupt. Nonetheless, Johnson seems to be having a great deal of nasty fun satirizing both American and French cultures, especially in the acerbic denouement, in which members of both families are taken hostage at EuroDisney. Cold and clever." Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
Set in Paris, Le Divorce is an alluring and elegant comedy of love and divorce French-style. Isabel Walker, a young, not-so-innocent, American abroad, arrives in Paris to find that her sister's French husband ('the frog prince') has just walked out. While Isabel embarks on her own sentimental education - seduced by gourmet food, antiques, existentialism and an older man - her sister's marriage disintegrates into bitter Franco-American wrangles over money, titles and a mysterious painting. With a sharp tongue and an ironic eye for the foibles of the Parisian bourgeoisie, the French art world and American ex-patriots, Isabel is a collector of experience, even those she can't control. Comedy veers suddenly close to tragedy as passionate jealousy, self-interest and artistic intrigue interweave.
In Le Divorce, Diane Johnson delightfully recounts the adventures of two sisters from California who make a modern pilgrimage to the City of Light.
Pregnant and abandoned by her French husband, Roxeanne Walker de Persand turns to her younger sister, Isabel, for support, while the powerful Persand family exerts subtle but firm control over her decision whether or not to divorce. Complicating matters is the disposition of a family heirloom, a painting in Roxy's possession that is suddenly discovered to be worth millions. In the midst of a variety of schemes, the stakes are suddenly raised by a crime of passion, disrupting everyone's motives and plans.
Not since Edith Wharton penned her brilliant portraits of Americans abroad has an American novelist so perfectly captured the possibilities and perils of succumbing to the allure of Paris.
Soon to be a major motion picture from Merchant Ivory productions starring Naomi Watts and Kate Hudson!
Called "stylish...refreshing...genuinely wise" by The New York Times Book Review, Diane Johnson’s Le Divorce has delighted readers since its publication in 1997.
This delightful comedy of manners and morals, money, marriage, and murder follows smart, sexy, and impeccably dressed American Isabel Walker as she lands in Paris to visit her stepsister Roxy, a poet whose marriage to an aristocratic French painter has assured her a coveted place in Parisian society...until her husband leaves her for the wife of an American lawyer. Could "le divorce" be far behind? Can irrepressible Isabel keep her perspective (and her love life) intact as cultures and human passions collide? "Social comedy at its best" (Los Angeles Times Book Review), Le Divorce is Diane Johnson at her most scintillating and sublime.
About the Author
Diane Johnson is an American-born novelist and essayist. A two-time finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in three different genres-essay, biography,
and fiction-she is�the author of the bestselling novel Le Divorce, a 1997 National Book Award finalist, as well as twelve other books, including the novels Persian Nights, Health and Happiness, Lying Low, The Shadow Knows, and Burning (all available in Plume editions).� She is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and splits her time between San Francisco and Paris.
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