Synopses & Reviews
The two-time Pulitzer Prize and three-time National Book Awardnominated author of the bestseller Le Divorce returns with a mesmerizing novel of double standards and double agents.
Lulu Sawyer, the heroine of Diane Johnsons captivating new novel, arrives in Marrakech, Morocco, hoping to rekindle her romance with a worldly Englishman, Ian Drumm. Its 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 among Europeans, in villas staffed by local maids in abayas, and her nights at lively dinner parties, Lulu observes the fragile coexistence of two cultures which, if not yet clashing, have begun to show signs of fracture. Beneath the surface of this polite expatriate community lies a more sinister world laced not only with double standards, but with double agents.
As she navigates the complex interface of Islam and the West, Lulu stumbles into unforeseen intrigues: A young Muslim girl, Suma, is hiding from a brother intent on an honor killing; and a beautiful Saudi woman, Gazi, who is vying for Ians love, leaves her husband in a desperate bid to escape her repressive society. The more Lulu immerses herself in the workings of Marrakech, the more questions emerge; and when bombs explode, the danger is palpable.
Lulus mission ultimately has tragic consequences, but along the way readers will fall in love with this endearing young woman as she improvises her way through the souk, her love life, and her profession. As in her previous novels, Diane Johnson weaves a dazzling tale in the great tradition of works about naive Americans abroad and the laws of unintended consequence, with a new, fascinating assortment of characters, as well as witty, trenchant observations on the manners and morals of a complicated moment in history.
"Fans of Johnson's NBA finalist Le Divorce will know what to expect: a fish-out-of-water story about a clash of cultures. Still, the tone and scope of this agreeable if quiet story owes more to the author's early work Persian Nights, in particular than the better-known ones about Franco-American culture clashes. Like that 1987 book, this one has more than a soupon of politics thrown into its cultural comedy of manners. Lulu Sawyer is a CIA agent who arrives in Morocco, both to rekindle her romance with worldly English boyfriend Ian and to trace the flow of Western money to radical Islamic groups. She meets with characters both Western and Eastern, which allows for some typically Johnsonian observations ('[Honor killing is] not so common among Algerians.... It's usually the Turks,' opines one character). The book works best in small moments and in scenes involving the supporting characters, but the central plot about Lulu and Ian's relationship never quite catches fire, and Lulu-as-CIA-agent seems tired and unnecessary. Most fans will wade through the overdetermined plot to get to the sly asides and the astute observation that are and always have been Johnson's forte." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Johnson lays out the life of the privileged foreigners and the watchful Moroccans in a fluent, wry, sometimes very funny style in the grand tradition of Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh, who peopled their novels with laconic British colonials savoring the heat and hedonism of the British Empire." Brigitte Week, Washington Post Book World
(read the entire Book World review
The two-time Pulitzer Prize- and three-time National Book Award-nominated author of the bestseller "Le Divorce" returns with a mesmerizing novel of double standards and double agents.
The two-time Pulitzer Prize and three-time National Book Award-nominated author of Le Divorce returns with a mesmerizing novel of double standards and double agents
In Lulu in Marrakech, Diane Johnson brilliantly exposes the manners and morals of the cultural collision between Islam and the West. 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 for the CIA?tracing the flow of money from well-heeled donors to radical Islamic groups. While spending her days poolside among Europeans in villas staffed by maids in abayas, and her nights at lively dinner parties, Lulu observes the fragile and tense coexistence of two cultures. But beneath the surface of this polite expatriate community lies a sinister world laced not only with double standards, but double agents.
As in her previous novels, Diane Johnson weaves a dazzling tale in the great tradition of works about naïve Americans abroad, with a fascinating new assortment of characters as well as witty and timely observations on the political and sexual complexities between Islamic and Western culture.
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.