By Cynthia Ozick
(Mariner Books, Paperback, 9780547577494, 255pp.)
Publication Date: November 2011
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“An absorbing achievement .º.º. A nimble, entertaining literary homage, but it is also, chillingly, what James would have called ‘the real thing.’”—New York Times Book Review
Cynthia Ozick is a literary treasure. In her sixth novel, she retraces Henry James’s The Ambassadors and delivers a brilliant, utterly new American classic.
At the center of the story is Bea Nightingale, a fiftyish divorced schoolteacher whose life has been on hold during the many years since her brief marriage. When her estranged, difficult brother asks her to travel to Europe to retrieve a nephew she barely knows, she becomes entangled in the lives of his family. Over the course of a few months she travels from New York to Paris to Hollywood, aiding and abetting her nephew and niece while waging a war of letters with her brother, and finally facing her ex-husband to shake off his lingering sneers from decades past. As she inadvertently wreaks havoc in their lives, every one of them is irrevocably changed.
“Raucous, funny, ferocious, and tragic. A literary master, as James was, Ozick makes all those qualities fit together seamlessly, and with heartbreaking effect.”—Philadelphia Inquirer
“Dazzling, even masterful.”—Entertainment Weekly
- Foreign Bodies is described as a “photographic negative” of Henry James’s classic novel The Ambassadors; in the New York Times, Charles McGrath described the similarities between the two books as “like someone pulling a glove inside-out.” How does Ozick achieve this? What do you think might have been her motivation? And what do you think of re-writing a classic American novel?