This is what I read the Orange longlist for. Discovering an excellent piece of writing that I would not have picked up otherwise. Foreign bodies by Cynthia Ozick is just that, well written, interesting characters, fascinating setting, good story.
Set in Paris in the mid 1950s, we follow the American Bea Nightingale as she's sent by her brother to try to sort out his son, her nephew. Having visited the city on a school trip he has been seduced by the atmosphere and an older woman and then failed to return home. Apparently this is a riff around the plot of Henry James' The ambassadors where an American teacher goes to Paris to retrieve a pupil, but I haven't read that book so it's difficult to comment. There are other strands of story to follow too - Bea's ex husband and the influence that he still has on her life, not least by having left a large grand piano in her tiny flat.
I loved the era and the sense of atmosphere that Ozick created with an old fashioned style of writing, I've not visited Paris but this is the sort of book that makes you want to hop on a Eurostar and go there for a visit. I wonder if there are any museums that would give one a sense of life in Paris at this time?
Oh, and this book should definitely feature on your reading list if Paris in July happens again this year
The Bay of Noon ~ Shirley Hazzard
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