FOREIGN PARTS by Janice Galloway


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 From the much-praised Scottish author Galloway (The Trick Is to Keep Breathing, 1994, etc.), an intermittently amusing warts- and-all story of two unmarried Scotswomen on a dreary French holiday, told in brittle flakes of self-consciously modern writing. Rona and Cassie are both in their 30s. Rona can drive the rattling automobile, Cassie can't; Rona smilingly finds a solution to various problems, Cassie sulkily thinks negative-but-true thoughts: ``...they would drink the coffee in silence, warding off the impending tip question...Foreign countries jesus. An interminable two weeks of this to come.'' As the two zig and zag through a bleakly downcast vision of roadside attractions and detours, Cassie relives her past with old boyfriends in accounts starting back when Cassie was a lower-class tourist awed by the London Tube and ending on nudist beaches in Albaniathat are delightfully awful: ``Tom. Happy as a pig in shit. Rows of compact arses turning their cheeks up to the sun in the guinness-coloured ovals of his shades.'' The novel finds a vein of life in these scenes more dense and powerful than in most of Rona's and Cassie's present-time misadventures, even adding in Galloway's didactic lectures about men, life, and the futility of escape through love or tourism: or after sitting through an homage to Molly Bloom's Ulysses monologuein which Cassie expresses both her longing for men and her disgust of themby which time one will be drumming one's fingertips in impatience. Well-observed scenes of quotidian France and hilariously downbeat details of modern love can't overcome the book's end-reliance on a sentimental, simplistic teaserwill Cassie and Rona become a romantic couple?and leaving the question of love for the next holiday trip only further postpones the drama in this one. A Thelma and Louise without the guns, the adventure, or even the convertible.

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 1995
ISBN: 1-56478-082-1
Page count: 262pp
Publisher: Dalkey Archive
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1995


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