Wednesday 17 October 2018

#CBR10 Book 87: "The Dud Avocado" by Elaine Dundy

Page count: 260 pages
Rating: 2 stars

#CBR10Bingo: AlabamaPink

Sally Jay Gorce is a young woman of independent means, thanks to the benevolence of a rich uncle. He's given her enough money to live comfortably abroad for two whole years, no strings attached, as long as she comes back and tells him about her adventures at the end of the two years. Not needing to hold down a job or really do anything at all for the money, means Sally Jay spends her time flitting about Paris, taking a lover, drinking and partying. When her older diplomat lover starts getting a bit too demanding, she convinces herself that she's in love with an acquaintance from back home, who directs plays.

The Cannonball Read is founded in memory of AlabamaPink, who back in 2008 was going to compete with her friend Prisco to be the first to read and review 100 books in a year. Sadly, struck down by cancer, AlabamaPink only managed to review eleven books before she died. One of the books is the upcoming November book club selection for the CBR book club, giving participants in the CBR10Bingo a selection of ten other books to read and review for this square. I have purposefully not looked at her review of the book, but picked this as it didn't seem too long and seemed fairly critically acclaimed.

If I'm to believe Goodreads, this book is a cult hit, and described as charming, sexy and hilarious. Groucho Marx wrote Ms Dundy an enthusiastic fan letter. All I can say is that book reviewers in the late 1950s and I have very different opinions about what those adjectives mean. I suppose a young, unmarried woman in the late 50s being frank and open about her sexuality, not hiding the fact that she enjoys it and having casual flings like a male protagonist would was unusual and refreshing.

Nothing much of anything actually happens in the book. In many ways it reminded me of The Catcher in the Rye, although Sally Jay, while frustrating on occasion, is approximately a million times more engaging and enjoyable to read about than stupid, self-important Holden Caulfield. Still, both books are about a young protagonist just going about their life, not really much of anything happening. To get through both books, I had to resort to skimming passages after a while. Despite being relatively short, the book took me nearly two weeks to get through.

Having now looked over AlabamaPink's review, it is clear she liked it A LOT more than I, and we have extremely different tastes in books. It certainly makes me more wary about the next book of "hers", I'll have to read - Craig Ferguson's novel.

Judging a book by its cover: Didn't like the book all that much and I think the cover is dull. A naked, young woman looking up at the camera - all her naughty bits tastefully covered by either her or the avocado green (I see what they did there) square with the title and author's name. I suppose the woman's open gaze is supposed to connect with the reader or some such? It's just not very interesting, much like the book it belongs to.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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