Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

1985 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Winner

Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie


Publisher: Vintage

Length: 291 pages

About: American love affairs in London

Style: 3rd person

Where: London, England

When: 1980s



Publisher’s synopsis:

Virginia Miner, a fifty-something, unmarried tenured professor, is in London to work on her new book about children’s folk rhymes. Despite carrying a U.S. passport, Vinnie feels essentially English and rather looks down on her fellow Americans. But in spite of that, she is drawn into a mortifying and oddly satisfying affair with an Oklahoman tourist who dresses more Bronco Billy than Beau Brummel. Also in London is Vinnie’s colleague Fred Turner, a handsome, flat broke, newly separated, and thoroughly miserable young man trying to focus on his own research. Instead, he is distracted by a beautiful and unpredictable English actress and the world she belongs to.  Both American, both abroad, and both achingly lonely, Vinnie and Fred play out their confused alienation and dizzying romantic liaisons in Alison Lurie’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.




As has sometimes been remarked, almost any woman can find a man to sleep with if she sets her standards low enough. But what must be lowered are not necessarily standards of character, intelligence, sexual energy, good looks, and wordly achievement. Rather, far more often, she must relax her requirements for commitment, constancy, and romantic passion; she must cease to hope for declarations of love, admiring stares, witty telegrams, eloquent letters, birthday cards, valentines, candy, and flowers. No; plain women often have a sex life. What they lack, rather, is a love life.




Foreign Affairs is Miss Lurie’s inquiry into the romance of Europe, from a writer who knows that romance is the one thing we all need but can never trust. And rightly so; in an age of soft dreams, we need her hard edge.

The Times, Malcolm Bradbury, January 19th 1985


Not so good:

The two skeins of plot are ingeniously interlaced with some well-calculated surprises. The author has, however, an irritating way with tenses.

The Times, Stuart Evans 31st January 1985


About the author

Born September 3, 1926 in Chicago but grew up in White Plains, New York. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1947. Lurie taught literature, folklore, and writing at Cornell University from 1968 to 2006, first as a lecturer, later being appointed to full professor in 1979. Lurie has three children and is married to the writer Edward Hower.


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<1984> -  <1986>















Page turner







Age guide: 12



Novels by same author:



In 1993, Foreign Affairs was made into a TV movie written by Chris Bryant.




2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

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