From: Public Library (Interlibrary loan!)
For the challenge: What’s In A Name
Recommendation from: Novel Insights
In a nutshell:
Sally Jay Gorce has wanted to see and experience the world since she was twelve. After graduating college, and as a gift from a rich relative, she takes off for Paris ready to take on the world. The book follows her in her adventures which include among other things: a lost passport, a film about a bullfighter, and a number of men.
I adored the spirited, fresh voice of this book. Sally Jay Gorce is a fascinating character. She is nothing like me but I can identify with her because Elaine Dundy knows how to convey the undercurrent of universality in her protagonist’s story. For instance, there will be a moment where Sally is in the grip of high emotion over something, and then the next day or so, that feeling will have dissipated thanks to time’s effect on perspective. Or also, Sally will be naive or self-centered and then have a breakthrough or flash of insight that endears her to the reader.
As I said, the voice in this book is incredible. One would hardly know that it was written in the 1950’s (and maybe even barely know that it was set in the 1950’s except that they’re sending telegrams instead of emails to each other.) The writing is sharp and funny, especially in its observations of people and situations. Almost every page could be a showcase of this writing, it’s so consistently good. Here’s one observation I particularly enjoyed about a party that Sally has been dragged to:
We walked into the drawing room, where everyone was sitting around like a bunch of stuffed owls. Gradually they came to life. About seven of them began exchanging glances with each other, very slowly at first and then with increasing vivacity, until exchanged glances were ricocheting around the room like bullets.
There is a plot among all this great writing, a story arc that follows Sally’s reconnection with an American acquaintance named Larry. She feels like she’s in love with him, though he’s kind of a jerk. He casts her in a small play he’s directing in Paris and later invites her to join him and a small party of friends down by Biarritz, by the ocean.
I was a little surprised by some of the revelations and events near the end – I didn’t really see it coming, but it didn’t seem out of place. When I finished The Dud Avocado, I gave that little contented sigh that you do after a good meal or good book.