Interesting Women by Andrea Lee

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American brio confronts European sophistication—and diverse cultures collide with surprising results—in brilliant, sometimes outrageous stories of seduction and self-discovery by acclaimed New Yorker writer Andrea Lee.
In vivid prose shot through with mordant irony, Lee takes us into the hearts and minds of a number of extraordinary women—intelligent, seductive, self-possessed—who, with wit and style, must grapple with questions of identity in a shrinking world where everyone is, in some way, a foreigner.
In “The Birthday Present,” a loyal and conventional American wife explores the wilder shores of marital devotion by giving her Italian husband a costly present: a night with a high-class Milanese call girl. “Winter Barley” is the account, alternately lyrical and perverse, of the brief love affair in Scotland between an elderly European prince and a thoroughly modern New England beauty half his age. And in the collection’s title story, “Interesting Women,” an American woman on vacation in Thailand reflects with mocking detachment on the confessional relationships that spring up between women (“another day, another soul laid bare”), before falling into one herself, which culminates in a hilarious and absurd odyssey through the jungle.
Lee’s beautifully crafted stories, reminiscent of Colette’s, offer the reader a rare combination: sensual evocation of the moment, and profound insight into the underlying struggles—of gender, race, and class—that shape relationships worldwide.

About Andrea Lee

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Andrea Lee was born in Philadelphia and received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Harvard University. She is a former staff writer for "The New Yorker," and her fiction and nonfiction writing has also appeared in "The New York Times Magazine" and "The New York Times Book Review," She is the author of "Russian Journal," the novel Sarah Phillips, and the short story collection "Interesting Women," She lives with her husband and two children in Turin, Italy. "From the Hardcover edition.
Published April 9, 2002 by Random House. 240 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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A pair of stories, “The Birthday Party” and “About Fog and Cappuccino,” feature interesting women of this sort to whom nothing terribly interesting happens—not a bad thing, since Lee easily enthralls with the smallest description or observation, and her knowledge of this lifestyle is intoxicating...

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Publishers Weekly

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Reading Lee, you know you're in the presence of an author fully able to, as another narrator says, "picture an endless mazurka of former wives, husbands, lovers, children, and assorted hangers-on, not excepting au pairs, cleaning women and pets."

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Entertainment Weekly

But ''the man -- my European husband -- was just an excuse, a playing field for our curiosity.'' Originally posted May 17, 2002 Published in issue #654 May 17, 2002 Order article reprints

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