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The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
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The Dud Avocado (1958)

by Elaine Dundy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
996278,597 (3.45)162
Recently added bykathiallen, private library, SubrbnMom, jdtchicago, mandarella, Civitella, democritusjrjr
Legacy LibrariesErnest Hemingway
  1. 20
    Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan (carlym)
    carlym: Similar theme--young girl in France becoming an adult.
  2. 00
    Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (cafepithecus)
  3. 00
    Mr. Skeffington by Elizabeth von Arnim (noveltea)
    noveltea: Follow a frivolous heroine through a comic gem that proves to be anything but shallow
  4. 00
    A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (carlym)
    carlym: A Moveable Feast gives a different perspective on the Paris art/literary scene (and Hemingway mentions one of the bars Sally Jay goes to).
  5. 00
    The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (cafepithecus)
  6. 00
    Sex and the Single Girl by Helen Gurley Brown (cafepithecus)
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» See also 162 mentions

English (26)  German (1)  All (27)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
The book jacket promises “the romantic and comedic adventures of a young American who heads overseas to conquer Paris in the last 1950s. [Other authors] wrote about the American girl abroad, but it was Dundy’s Sally Jay Gorce who told us what she was really thinking. Charming, sexy, and hilarious…”

That’ll teach me to believe a book jacket or publisher’s blurb.

In fairness, I think the whole concept would be considered romantic and comedic in the late 1950s (originally published in 1958). But I don’t think it really translates well today, when readers have been entertained by Sex and the City and the reality TV (and internet) escapades of Paris Hilton and the Kardashians. It’s not bold enough, or shocking enough, or entertaining enough.

Sally is an ingenue, and somewhat naïve, but she is full of life and eager to experience all of it. Bankrolled by a wealthy uncle, she has two years of freedom in Paris to do whatever she wants and she rushes headlong into whatever strikes her fancy – mistress to an Italian diplomat, acting in a play, posing for photographers, playing an extra in a movie, drinking champagne and dancing the flamenco. She seems never to have the right outfit for the occasion, but that doesn’t stop her. She stumbled from one mess to another, but manages always to land on her feet. She falls in love with one wrong man after another, but escapes unscathed (and apparently not learning her lesson very quickly, either).

There are some scenes where Dundy really captures my attention – the way she describes a perfect cocktail, or the guests at a dinner party, for example – but I was bored with most of it. Sally has no real purpose and I just didn’t care what happened to her or her “friends.” ( )
  BookConcierge | Aug 20, 2017 |
Set in 1950s Paris, France. Sally Jay Gorce is an American girl on her own in Paris. In her formative years Sally Jay frequently ran away from home. Her rich Uncle Roger made a deal with her just before her 13th birthday. Stop running away, graduate high school and college and he would pay for her to go anywhere she wants for two years. It is Sally's greatest desire to be on her own with no one to answer to, stay out all night, eat and drink what she likes and have sex. Along the way she falls in love with all the wrong people, does some acting, aways dresses inappropriately for the occasion, and unknowingly gets involved with a stolen passport/ prostitution scheme.
The book was funny in places. The last half of the book was a quick read as there was more going on. While the book was good it never really pulled me into it's world. I didn't really like Sally Jay. She's scatter brained, always losing things and making bad decisions, but I got the feeling that the reader is supposed to think that she's intelligent.
About the title: " His avocado arrived and he looked at it lovingly. "The Typical American Girl." he said addressing it. " A hard center with the tender meat all wrapped up in a shiny casing." He began eating it. "How I love them" he murmured greedily. "So green - so eternally green". Sally Jay declares herself a dud. ( )
  VioletBramble | Feb 1, 2017 |
This is a fun-romp of a read. All kinds of misspent youth- and schemes to suck the marrow out of life- with all endeavors failing miserably. The greatest strength of this work is the voice of Sally Jay. The plot is rather unbelievable and cartoonish. But the leading lady is fresh and uninhibited. Great for a lazy afternoon read- with just the right amount of spice and humor. ( )
  Alidawn | Jan 14, 2016 |
The Dud Avocado was okay, but I prefer guacamole. ( )
1 vote EnriqueFreeque | Nov 22, 2015 |
I think I would have liked to have known Elaine Dundy. Loosely based on her own life, Dud Avocado is a delicious romp through Paris, France in the 1950s. Dundy or rather Sally Jay Gorce, storms her way through the night clubs and Parisian society. Here's the skinny on the plot: when Sally Jay Gorce was thirteen years old her uncle made her a deal: stop running away (now) and graduate from college (eventually). If she did all that he would pay for her to go anywhere for two years. No strings attached. He wouldn't even try to contact her. After two years she could come home and tell him all about it...When we first meet Sally she is in Paris, France and it has been eight years since she made that deal. At the moment she is trying to win the favors of actor Larry Keevil, a fellow American with shiny auburn hair and gray-green eyes. She is in love. The only problem is this: Sally is currently involved with a "three-timing" man who already has a wife (1), mistress (2) and Sally (3). Sally gets mixed up in a bunch of relationships but she always keeps coming back to Larry. Only, he's not the man she thinks he is. And she isn't the girl she thought she was. Turns out she really did want to be a librarian. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Feb 2, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elaine Dundyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Teachout, TerryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"I want you to meet Miss Gorce, she's in the embalming game."
- James Thurber (Men, Women and Dogs)
Dedication
First words
It was a hot, peaceful, optimistic sort of day in September.
Quotations
And this was odd because two Americans re-encountering each other after a certain time in a foreign land are supposed to clamber up their nearest lampposts and wait tremblingly for it all to blow over. Especially me. I'd made a vow when I got over here never to speak to anyone I'd ever known before. Yet here we were, two Americans who hadn't really seen each other for years; here was someone from "home" who knew me when, if you like, and, instead of shambling back into the bushes like a startled rhino, I was absolutely thrilled at the whole idea.
I began floating down those Elysian Fields three inches off the ground, as easily as a Cocteau character floats through Hell.
Whereas I was hell-bent for living, she was content, at least for the time being, to leave all that to others. Just as long as she could hear all about it. She really was funny about this. Folded every which way on the floor, looking like Bambi - all eyes and legs and no chin - she would listen for ages and ages with rapt attention to absolutely any drivel that you happened to be talking. It was unbelievable
(People really do say You Americans, by the way.)
There was quite a large group around him that evening; many of the Hard Core and, to get really technical - all the Inner Hard Core.
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Book description
From the back cover -
The Dud Avocado follows the romantic and comedic adventures of a young American who heads overseas to conquer Paris in the late 1950s. Edith Wharton and Henry James wrote about the American girl abroad, but it was Elaine Dundy's Sally Jay Gorce who told us what she was really thinking.
Charming, sexy, and hilarious, The Dud Avocado gained instant cult status when it was first published and remains a timeless portrait of a woman hell-bent on living.

VIRAGO EDITION:
Free for the first time to be the mistress of her own fate, the young American Sally Jay Gorce is in the avant garde Paris of the 1950s. Neither sophisticated nor naive, she is alight with curiosity, sweeping through France with high spirits and endless energy. On her round of exhilarating escapades Sally Jay becomes entangled in a spectacular array of both comic and romantic adventures. But her love and trust are betrayed and she is forced to reconsider her priorities. In doing so Sally Jay finds herself on the threshold of an even more exhilarating adventure - that of true love. The Dud Avocado is the story of her rite of passage, encapsulating the experiences of all young women who leave home for fresher fields, only to discover that 'they are very young and the world is very wide'.
With a heroine as tough as she is sweet, as formidable as she is alluring, The Dud Avocado instantly became a cult novel and remains as popular and engaging as when it was first published in 1958.
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The Dud Avocado follows the romantic and comedic adventures of a young American who heads overseas to conquer Paris in the late 1950s. Edith Wharton and Henry James wrote about the American girl abroad, but it was Elaine Dundy's Sally Jay Gorce who told us what she was really thinking. Charming, sexy, and hilarious, The Dud Avocado gained instant cult status when it was first published and it remains a timeless portrait of a woman hell-bent on living.… (more)

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