January 9, 2013

The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy: Review

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dud avocadoSally Jay Gorce is a young American in Paris. She’s there on her extremely wealthy Uncle’s dime. Sally Jay always had a wandering spirit and with her uncle’s help now she’s able to do as she pleases. She kind of a mess though. She laments never having the right outfit for the right occasion, she’s held together with safety pins, and her hair is a shade of pink. She lost her virginity to an Italian diplomat with a wife and a mistress, though she claims to be in love with another American in Paris, the aspiring director, Larry Keevil.

Sally Jay runs around Paris night after night with a motley crew of artists and hangers’ on finding trouble in all the low and high places. She meets a variety of interesting people, some good and some not so good, but there’s never a dull moment for Sally Jay.

The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy is a crazy kind of novel. The situations and people Sally Jay find are unreal and most of the time it seems as if she’s just along for the ride. I liked her for the most part, I loved her dry asides, like this one after an encounter with a groupie of a film director:

She’s a handful, that babe. Bax just goggled at her. She really baffles him. He can’t figure out if she’s kidding or what. I thought I’d better come to his rescue. Besides, I don’t trust old Angela.

Her thoughts on becoming a nude model:

Later on somebody told me there wasn’t a girl in the whole world who won’t take off her clothes if she’s convinced she’s doing it for aesthetic reasons, but at the time it seemed to me I had taken one more giant step.

Sally Jay makes lots of observations like that. It’s like she’s watching a play, not acting in it. Things affect her but most of it slides off her. Only when disaster strikes, like the loss of her passport, does she realize the kind of trouble she could be in. I appreciate her desire to get as much out of life as she can, but she can be so naive at times I just wanted to shake her. I also found it odd that she almost never associates with Parisians. Everyone appears to be either American or some from some other country than France. Weird.

Near the end of the novel, I wondered if there was any point to all of this or if I was just going to be carried away on one adventure after another. Not that it’s all fun and games, there are some serious issues in this story too. Then, Sally Jay learns the hard way that she can’t trust everyone and unfortunately she loses a bit of her joie de vivre. I was left wondering if she could really be happy, even with her happy ending.

The Dud Avocado (and it takes almost to the end to explain the title) is a wild ride, if a bit dated in places, but fun nevertheless. It’s great if you’ve got a craving for the bohemian lifestyle.


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  1. Is this a memoir? The title makes me laugh so I am curious about it.

    1. No, it's a novel but the author put a lot of herself in it.

  2. I was thinking it sounded more like a memoir as well. Interesting.

  3. I like the title and would probably add it to the list for that reason alone but I also love reading about life in Paris. I may have to give it a try.

  4. I started this one ages ago and never finished it. I felt as you did... what is the point? It was a good "day in the life" type read but just that.

    1. Up until the end I didn't get it either but some things are explained by then.

  5. It sounds really retro. Does it take place in the sixties?

  6. Sounds like fun. I've seen it around but I think it's probably not for me. Your review really sounds like just what I thought the book woudl be like!


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