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Host Family [Hardcover]

Mameve Medwed
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Hardcover CDN $26.46  
Hardcover, Aug. 3 2000 --  
Paperback CDN $22.39  

Book Description

Aug. 3 2000
Daisy and Henry Lewis have been married for twenty years. They live near Harvard University where they have long served as a host family for its International students. With the departure of their son for college (less than a mile away) the empty nest turns into a gaping hole. Henry starts calling himself Henri, spattering his conversations with au contraires and mais ouis. She should have seen "it" coming. On the night they win the Host Family award, Henry tells Daisy over sushi that their marriage is finis. Daisy tries to pick up the pieces by falling in love with a parasitologist named Truman Wolff who finds extraordinary similarities between the behaviour of tapeworms and humans. But just as life is regaining some equilibrium, the arrival of a devastatingly good-looking Italian student shakes up the symbiotic combinations and challenges everything Daisy and Henry believe about the meaning of family and the meaning of love. In Host Family, Mameve Medwed, author of the wickedly funny Mail, delivers an irresistibly witty and heartwarming chronicle of the way we live now.

Product Details


Product Description

From Amazon

Mameve Medwed's second novel follows the breezy Cambridge formula of her popular debut, Mail. Daisy Lewis is a warmly practical, solidly attractive supermarket ombudswoman whose 20-year marriage to Henry, a computer-virus expert, is comfortable and familiar, though no longer exciting. If Daisy grits her teeth a bit at Henry's pretentious passion for all things Français, she's still happy enough, and the Lewises enjoy playing "host family" to a series of slightly forlorn international students. Even when Henry is led astray by a très belle mademoiselle and announces to Daisy that he's writing finis to their marriage, Daisy is more surprised than devastated: "If her marriage ends, the toilet will never get replaced, she supposes. As soon as she thinks this, she is amazed. Her world as she has known it for twenty years is falling apart, and she focuses only on the most inconsequential domestic details. The loss of a power flush rather than the loss of a husband. But it makes sense. She can wrap her mind around a toilet. Marriage, husband, love, life are territories too vast to get a purchase on."

Happily, Rebound City is just around the corner. Henry's laid low by food poisoning that same night, and on a visit to the hospital Daisy meets Truman Wolff, a parasitologist whose ex-wife ran away with a French pastry chef. Drawn together by a series of such small coincidences and serendipities--including the fact that her son and Truman's daughter are madly in love--the two begin living together, though Daisy refuses the doctor's frequent proposals of marriage. When they agree to host an Italian student named Andrea, all hell breaks loose in some very funny--and very uncomfortable--ways. Will Daisy and Truman find their way back to the relationship they're clearly meant to have? Yes, of course, and there are a few other surprising reconciliations along the way. Host Family gives a warm and funny, if not entirely new, twist to the idea of symbiosis. --Barrie Trinkle --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Cambridge and the outskirts of Harvard life are again the settings of Medwed's (Mail) new novel, a cuttingly funny yet heartwarming tale full of hilarious twists and practical wisdom. Henry and Daisy Lewis, who have been serving as host family to international Harvard students for the past 20 years, find themselves at a crisis in their marriage. It seems that the series of visitors from the Third World has exhausted Henry's patience. In reaction, he becomes a voracious Francophile and falls for their latest exchange student, a French beauty named Giselle. The breakup of the Lewis's marriage coincides with the departure of the couple's cherished son, Sammy, to college (Harvard, of course), but 42-year-old Daisy, a community relations manager for a grocery chain, learns that change can be a good thing when she fatefully meets Truman Wolff, a parasitologist whose studies of "virus-host relationships" seem particularly apt. In this novel of comic connections, Daisy's son and Truman's teenage daughter, Phoebe, fall in love. For a couple of years, the two pairs sustain their respective relationships, though marriage-wary Daisy remains unwilling to spoil a good thing by accepting Truman's proposals. The introduction of another foreign body--this time a handsome young Italian man--threatens this stability when the studly student and Phoebe fall in love, causing Daisy to reject Truman in a fit of allegiance over Sammy's broken heart. But tables continue to turn; characters forgive, forget and move on; and Daisy finally realizes that it's time to go after a love "every bit as identifiable and tenacious as one of Truman's parasites." Medwed balances broadly drawn characters, such as the ludicrously pompous Henry, who sports a beret and calls himself "Henr!," with Daisy's perspicuous insights on the nature and possibility of lasting romantic commitment, expertly combining here the larger-than-life and the true-to-life. Agent, Lisa Bankoff. 4-city author tour. (Feb.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Jan. 7 2002
Format:Paperback
I had finished all the books I had brought with me on our vacation and a woman lent me this book to read. I was pleasantly surprised never having read Medwed before. This book is warm and funny and intelligent. I found it a good light read that made me laugh as well as giving some insights into family life today
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5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking, Witty, and Gratifying March 4 2000
Format:Hardcover
Ms. Medwed, first in Mail and now Host Family, is the sort of high risk author who will take on unfamiar themes--the subleties of social class, the hilarious but quite convincing linkage between relationships and parasitology--with a voice as sly and funny as Melissa Roth or Elinor Lipman, but a quite disarming dig under the surface of things that is quite thrilling to discover and very much her own.She succeeded in charming this male reader fond of high-tech thrillers, and I believe theat anyone who believes that the two surviving virtues of our time are truth and humor will be swept up the same way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nice Dose of Home Oct. 19 2001
Format:Paperback
As a Bostonian living overseas, I enjoyed this book for two reasons. The first is for all the reasons the others have said. It's funny, witty and moves along at a nice clip. I read a variety of things and this book is entertaining without being completely potboiled. It's a refreshing bit of spritzer on a warm day.
The other reason I love this book is that I am far from home and her sense of place, of Cambridge and Harvard as characters in the book brought the city home to me. It was pleasant to wander about Harvard Square once again if only through the pages of her book. Sigh.
Thanks to Ms. Medwed and we eagerly await your next book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nice Dose of Home Oct. 19 2001
Format:Paperback
As a Bostonian living overseas, I enjoyed this book for two reasons. The first is for all the reasons the others have said. It's funny, witty and moves along at a nice clip. I read a variety of things and this book is entertaining without being completely potboiled. It's a refreshing bit of spritzer on a warm day.
The other reason I love this book is that I am far from home and her sense of place, of Cambridge and Harvard as characters in the book brought the city home to me. It was pleasant to wander about Harvard Square once again if only through the pages of her book. Sigh.
Thanks to Ms. Medwed and we eagerly await your next book!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Way Too Much Symbiosis Aug. 13 2001
Format:Paperback
"Host Family" has a good plot line about the intersecting relationships of a Harvard family, its various members and the international students to which they have played "host family" for 20 years. But by the time I was halfway through the book, I was feeling too bombarded by both the very obvious analogies and symbiotic references to parasites and the somewhat ridiculous generalization of the French people as a whole. But the time I was three-quarters of the way through I was literally scratching from reading about head lice (our heroine has by now left her husband and is living with a parasitologist who, along with many other characters, is totally one-dimensional and has no conversational skills outside the realm of bugs) and by the final chapters I found myself speed-reading in order to get it over and done with.
This could have been a good book but for me the author's style was somewhat stiff and uncomfortable.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enticing Read June 27 2001
Format:Paperback
This is a book that grabs your interest from the beginning and keeps you reading until you finish and then you want a sequel with the same great, quirky characters. Medwed manages to connect the idea of a foreign host family with a parasitical host with humor that edges on reality. You see yourself in her characters. She brings understanding and and insight to love and family in an unconventional setting and different way. Her attention to details are impressive as well.
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Format:Paperback
"Need a laugh and a little help putting your head lice experience into perspective? Check out this hilarious new novel by Mameve Medwed about a woman whose husband deserts her and when she starts dating again, it's with a parasitologist . Guess what little gift he brings home to share with the entire extended family? You guessed it... We spent days reading exerpts out loud and howling with laughter. Give yourself a break...you deserve it!"
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fab View of Cantab July 21 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Medwed cuts out a slice of Americana, life in Cambridge, MA, and serves it up perfectly. Tasty morsels of information about local sights and customs blend well with narrative substance -- a middle-aged woman's entanglements with the men in her life. Read it, you'll eat it up.
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