Sally Jay Gorce is 21, she is in 1950’s Paris and she is intent on having a good time. She gets drunk, she loses things and people, she gets drunk on Champagne cocktails , she has pink hair and she swans around Paris during the day in an evening gown.
“I thought if I wore this red leather belt with it people wouldn’t actually notice. Especially since it’ such a warm day. I mean these teintueries make it so difficult for you to get your laundry to them in the first place, don’t they, closing up like that from noon till three? I mean, my gosh, it’s the only time I’m up and around over here – don’t you think?”
This novel is almost Gatsby-esque in its collection of careless, selfish characters oozing decadence and immersed in selfish indulgence. The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite novels so maybe that accounts for some of the appeal The Dud Avocado has for me.
There is something immensely likeable about Sally Jay. She is Bridgette Jones and Carrie Bradshaw rolled into one. She is misguided and naive, but maintains a mostly cheerful outlook throughout. This is a coming of age novel. We see Sally Jay morph from dizzy immaturity to a young woman who by the end shows signs of perception and even wisdom. I would love to know what happened to Sally Jay Gorce next.
l loved Elaine Dundy’s poetic way with words. She produces such beautiful prose, woven cleverly around the haphazard way in which Sally conducts her days. One of the most perfect descriptions for me is this:
“Spring was budding around town, bursting and budding and blooming. It was one of those nights when the air is blood-temperture and it’s impossible to tell where you leave off and it begins”
This is a fun read and a book I can imagine coming back to regularly (as I do The Great Gatsby) It’s a comfort read which could easily have you reaching for a dry martini as you book your eurostar passage to Paris (one way of course).
image: Changing pages