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For readers of Melissa Bank or Jhumpa Lahiri: witty, seductive stories of expatriate women, their loves and losses.
“Interesting women – are we ever going to be free of them? I meet them everywhere these days, now that there is no longer such a thing as an interesting man.” So drawls the narrator of one of Andrea Lee’s jewel-like stories, herself, undeniably, an Interesting Woman. These gleaming, sensual stories bend a wit worthy of Colette’s on a demimonde of expatriates, teenage ‘pocket divas’, girlfriends, wives, mistresses and daughters. Each focuses on a moment of seduction, of self-discovery, where the mocking detachment of the outsider is briefly pulled aside. An American, chained by her Italian husband’s belief in her conventional wholesomeness, surprises him with two costly call girls for his birthday; but her pleasure in her own daring remains wistfully private. A New England beauty has a brief love affair, alternately lyrical and perverse, with a European prince more than twice her age. A woman, having earlier left her husband ‘in a moment of epic distraction’, has his new ex to stay, changing forever their understanding of the man they both married.
‘Interesting Women’ teases the reader with ironic glimpses of the charged games of sexual power between men and women, and women with each other. It is that delicious rarity: a summer read of sophisticated intelligence, whose gorgeous images will linger long.