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
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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.
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