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THE FOREIGNERS by Maxine Swann


by Maxine Swann

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59448-830-6
Publisher: Riverhead

The exotic (and erotic) aura of Buenos Aires leads Daisy, the narrator, into some murky personal and sexual encounters.

Thirty-five and at the end of a nine-year marriage, Daisy is looking for escape from her aimless life. When a friend helps her get a grant to do a waterworks study project in Argentina, Daisy leaps at the opportunity provided—even though she has no technical knowledge about or understanding of hydraulics. Instead, she uses the money to rent a seedy apartment and finds herself neighbors with a handsome gay gigolo. Daisy also desultorily puts up an ad offering English-speaking lessons and through this offer makes contact with Leonarda, a charismatic and domineering woman who quickly takes Daisy under her wing. (Leonarda doesn’t even need English lessons but likes to consort with foreigners.) Also entering the volatile mix is Isolde, who’s come to Buenos Aires from Austria and who hopes to make it in the tony art circles of the city. Leonarda loves to play mind games and has developed a scheme—or rather a kind of living theatre production—she calls the Master Plan. This includes crashing parties, thrusting herself into both high and low society and seductively incorporating Daisy into her manipulation of men and sexual relationships. In about equal measure, Daisy finds herself sexually attracted to and morally repelled by Leonarda. When a threesome begins to spin out of control, Daisy takes some time off to go to Uruguay and reflect on...well, how things are spinning out of control. She eventually reaches an equilibrium rather than an understanding of the force of nature that is Leonarda.

Beautifully written, sensual and seductive.