Andrea Lee   Interesting Women  
Andrea Lee  
Read an Interview with Andrea Lee

Read an Excerpt from Interesting Women


Let's face it, great writers have a certain mystique. It's easy to fantasize about their lives that must be more glamorous than our own. Images of tortured writers hunched over manual Smith Corona typewriters, ashtrays overflowing from working through the night, writers hanging out in the company of other writers having lively debates over poets we've never even heard of and you can almost hear the ice clinking in their gin and tonics.

But of course we never really know what their days are like, and in some ways I'm sure we don't want to hear that what really goes behind closed doors is that they haven't showered for days, are sitting around in their pajamas in the late afternoon and are procrastinating by reading the cartoons in their most recent issue of The New Yorker while watching TLC's "Trading Spaces". Sometimes, it's better to fantasize, right?

Now, let's take the glamorous image of a writer and take it up about ten notches—picture an attractive well educated American woman named Andrea Lee whose first book, Russian Journal, was nominated for the National Book Award (in her early twenties, of course!) and then let's throw in a fabulous Hollywood twist, like her falling in love with an Italian count (I kid you not) and her running off to live with him in Italy and is now living as an ex-pat and raising their seven year old son in a castle (okay, the castle part I'm sort of making up... but I'm pretty sure that wherever she lives is basically a castle compared to anywhere you and I are living at the moment). Talk about food for thought.

Well the next best thing to living her life is reading the short stories in her first short story collection, Interesting Women. These thirteen gorgeous stories take you away from the mundane and brings you to Milan, Madagascar, Torino, and Hondorus (Andrea Lee even makes North Carolina sound cool) where you meet "interesting" women (who, more often then not, happen to be American women living abroad) who are giving their husband a night with two high-class call girls for his birthday present, in search of the perfect cappuccino bar, dealing with disgruntled relatives and a past that is another continent away, and receiving a visit from your husband's beautiful and chic ex-wife.

Lee's book has been heralded by the New York Times Book Review as the Sex and the City for the international set, and the book delivers just that as you'll be delighted and intrigued by women named Ariel, Beba, Merope, and Josephina that you'll find in the pages. This is the perfect book to spend an afternoon with an air-conditioned coffee shop (though by all means pretend you're at an Italian café). As for Andrea Lee herself? Well, she may be one of the only writers whose actual life might be more interesting than the fictional ones she creates for her characters... it's something to think about.

-- Jenny Lee
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  Photo credit: Filippo Gallino

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