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Elaine Dundy’s semi-autobiographical comic novel follows the misadventures of an American girl who impulsively quits college and heads off to conquer Paris in the 1950s.
Sally Jay Gorce sets out to become an actress, but what she really wants to do is experience the wide world, and to “make her wits so sharp she’s always able to guess right.” Thus she embarks on an educational program that includes an affair with a married man (which fizzles out when she realizes that he’s single–and seems to want to marry her); many nights in cafés, cabarets, and jazz clubs in the company of aspiring artists and other assorted “citizens of the world”; a nightmarish trip to the Riviera; an entanglement with a charming psychopath; and a bit part in a film financed by a famous matador.
An education like this doesn’t come cheap. And just when it starts to look like our heroine will be forced back to the States to fulfill her destiny as a librarian, she meets a dashing photographer who is her perfect, eccentric match.
“I had to tell someone how much I enjoyed The Dud Avocado. It made me laugh, scream, and guffaw (which, incidentally, is a great name for a law firm).” –Groucho Marx
"[The Dud Avocado] is one of the best novels about growing up fast..." -The Guardian
"The gayest and most cheerful novel about Americans in Paris I have read...a dazzling performance--as light as a champagne bubble, as continuously attention-getting as a juggler keeping seven swords in the air at the same time." --The New York Times
"Take one zippy, curious, 21-year-old American named Sally Jay, just out of college. Drop her in the middle of Paris' Left Bank. Add an Italian diplomat, an American theatrical director , a couple of painters and a white slave trader. Mix until all bubbles. The result: a delightful few hours of sparkling reading entertainment. Summing up: Froth and frolic." --Newsweek
"Delightful...her portrait of the Left Bank expatriates is caustically funny." --Time
"A champagne cockail...rich, invigorating, and deceptively simple to the taste...One falls for Sally Jay from a great height from the first sentence." --The Observer
"A first-rate reporter, [Dundy] has made The Dud Avocado into a Baedeker of neo-Bohemiahe...the atmosphere of a French student café; the folkways of hobohemia; the accents of the International Set-all these Miss Dundy has captured with sill and a degree of wit." --The New York Times Book Review
"A cheerfully uninhibited...variation on the theme of the Innocents Abroad...Miss Dundy comes up with fresh and spirited comedy...Her novel is enormous fun-sparklingly written, genuinely youthful in spirit, and exquisitely gay." --The Atlantic
"Elaine Dundy writes a sprightly novel to bring us up to date on the American girl from across the street who goes to Paris looking for Life and Love. Her book is sad and tender, bubbling with fun, spiced with insight...The Dud Avocado is satiric, mostly true, and decidedly sexy...The writing is sharp." --New York Herald Tribune
"[W]itticisms that crackle from every page." --Indianapolis Star
"One of the funniest books I've ever read; it should be subtitled Daisy Miller's Revenge." --Gore Vidal