Foreign Bodies-Cynthia Ozick
A t 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.
This took me awhile to read. Partially because real life was fairly busy but also because I was so bored by the book. I just didn't care about any of the characters (even Lili got uninteresting) and it was just all well-written mundanity. The drama that propelled the plot all seemed self-inflamed to me and in their place I'd just be like calm down and stop making me your messenger. There was so much ego in this was it was nigh unbearable. The kids, Julian & Iris, were so self-indulgent that they just annoyed me entirely. The brother and ex-husband are horrible men-utterly horrid people. Paris seemed so romanticized which was a bit confusing because I think the whole point of the time setting in post-war was to not have a romantic Europe but rather the fragmented post-war chaos.
It was all well-written but there was absolutely nothing else drawing me to read it. I finished it because I was waiting to see if there was a climax or confrontation of any kind but not really, it seemed. I feel like the description ended up being misleading or perhaps I merely missed something crucial for its appreciation.