Foreign Bodies

Foreign Bodies

[a Novel]

Book - 2010
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In her sixth novel, Cynthia Ozick retells the story of Henry James's The Ambassadors as a photographic negative, retaining the plot but reversing the meaning.


Foreign Bodies transforms Henry James's prototype into a brilliant, utterly original, new American classic. At the core of the story is Bea Nightingale, a fiftyish divorced schoolteacher whose life has been on hold during the many years since her brief marriage. When her estranged, difficult brother asks her to leave New York for Paris to retrieve a nephew she barely knows, she becomes entangled in the lives of her brother's family and even, after so long, her ex-husband. Every one of them is irrevocably changed by the events of just a few months in that fateful year. Traveling from New York to Paris to Hollywood, aiding and abetting her nephew and niece while waging a war of letters with her brother, facing her ex-husband and finally shaking off his lingering sneers from decades past, Bea Nightingale is a newly liberated divorcee who inadvertently wreaks havoc on the very people she tries to help. 

Publisher: Boston [Mass.] : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010
ISBN: 9780547435572
Branch Call Number: F OZI NVD
Characteristics: 255 p. ; 24 cm


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Feb 02, 2015

ditto "uncommonreader"
Would not read again. Almost boring.

Jun 20, 2014

It was a clever idea for this Henry James scholar to use "The Ambassadors" as the framework for her novel. However, Ozick's 1950s seemed too modern in sensibility and the story became tedious because she could not sustain interest in the characters or their fates. Disappointing.

patienceandfortitude Jul 06, 2012

I highly recommend this book. I found it both very interesting and very well written. I look forward to discussing it at our next book club meeting, to get other people's thoughts about what it all means.

Jun 29, 2012

Ozick's reimagining of Henry James's The Ambassadors could have been titled, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. Set in 1950s America and Europe, the story follows a sister sent to Europe by her overbearing brother to find and return with his wayward son. Though the characters were somewhat unsympathetic and the writing uneven, I was still drawn into the narrative.

DJK May 22, 2012

Short-listed for Booker and finalist for Orange

May 10, 2012

Shortlisted for the 2012 Orange Prize. Author created some very memorable characters, I just didn't enjoy it very much.

Apr 28, 2012

Shortlisted for the 2012 Orange fiction prize.

debwalker Dec 08, 2010

Included in the White House Library presented to President Obama on January 20, 2011, by the American Booksellers Association.

A taut retelling of “The Ambassadors.”

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