Friday, June 5, 2015

Book Review: "The Dud Avocado" by Elaine Dundy

"The Dud Avocado" by Elaine Dundy
First published in 1958
260 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5
Image from Goodreads

The Short Of It:
You'll fall in love with our humorous and heartfelt narrator, a young American woman whose goal is to live life in Paris in 1955.

The Long Of It:
I'd never heard of "The Dud Avocado" until a co-worker at the library raved about it -- and between her good review and my total curiosity over the title (and my love of avocados), I knew I'd have to give this semi-autobiographical novel of debauchery, self-discovery and coming of age in 1950s Paris a try.

American Sally Jay Gorce is 21 and alone in Paris for two years on her rich uncle's dime. Her singular goal is to experience all she can. She says yes to everything: she loses her virginity (item number-one on the to-do list), she drinks and drinks and drinks, she dances, she dyes her hair pink, she carouses with artists and film directors and bullfighters, she stays out 'til dawn, she breaks hearts and gets hers broken. She's finally free, and she's glorying in it.

But, as tends to happen, something occurs to disrupt Sally Jay's quest for adventure. The mess she's in forces her to take a good, hard look in the mirror and evaluate who she is and who she wants to be. Her coming-of-age tale comes full-circle.

Sally Jay is a fabulous narrator. She's naive, irresponsible, selfish and trying way too hard to be sophisticated, but she can also be surprisingly observant, self-aware and relatable. And she's totally hilarious. I saw my own 21-year-old self in her and I bet you'll see flashes of yourself too.

"The Dud Avocado" was a rollicking good time (who wouldn't want to live vicariously through a fun and beautiful 21-year-old cavorting her way through post-war Paris?) splashed throughout with unexpected moments of utter truth. It was a fast and fun read and I encourage you to check it out. Nearly every page has a quotable passage, so have your pen and paper ready!

1 comment:

  1. I came across this on a list of books a little while ago, but was torn on whether to order it because I'd never heard of it. Your review has placed it firmly on my to-buy list! (Also I see you're reading The Devil In the White City right now and MAN that is one amazing book! It's one of my top all-time faves. Just take my advice and don't read it on a Greyhound bus in the middle of the night...)


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