Brompton Library’s lively reading group has been reading ‘Foreign Bodies’, by Cynthia Ozick.
First of all, a brief premise about the book: a middle-aged woman is instructed by her dictatorial brother to fetch back his son who has moved to Paris from the US.
That night, we had a packed out group and a visitor from Japan who has been studying Reading Groups and he wanted to sit-in and listen. (Incidentally, one of the Brompton group, Rheagan Greene has just published her own book ‘Bitter Truths’, about a woman learning the way of the Samurai…)
We had a really lively debate about the characters in ‘Foreign Bodies’: we hated the brother, sympathised with the sister but were almost 90% unimpressed with the rest of the cast. The way they acted reminded us very much of Margaret Atwood’s characters, but somehow Atwood can evoke a certain amount of touching vulnerability in them, which Ozick simply cannot. Although really well written, the story did not really go anywhere and some of us were convinced that the sister/aunt would have some kind of miraculous transformation in her life, like in ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day’. She did though exorcise some of the demons in her own life and the correspondence between brother and sister is very witty and kept the story running along.