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Jaylia3

Reflections

Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.

The Foreigners

The Foreigners - Maxine Swann I had never read anything set in Argentina which is what drew me to this book initially and in the beginning I was completely fascinated with the background and caught up in the story. First person narrator Daisy has gotten a grant to study the public waterworks of Buenos Aires--a field she knows nothing about--as a way to move on after her divorce and I felt like I had jumped into that adventure with her for a wild, try anything kind of ride. I loved the way the author laced the narration with enriching bits of history, culture, geography and even science, like the Cambrian explosion of animals, a sudden surge of biodiversity that Daisy felt she was experiencing in a personal way, and facts about invasive species, which the author uses as a metaphor for the foreigners who've come to settle in Argentina. Daisy first meets Leonarda, or Leo, who is always creating a crazy scene, like stealing a cop's hat so she and Daisy suddenly have to break into a run and escape by cab, or kissing Daisy in a bar and then dragging her off just as they've attracted the undivided attention of every man in the place. But Leo gets more and more manipulative, even cruel, and it becomes very hard to understand why Daisy still feels the world is a bright interesting place only when Leo is around. In general, especially considering that Daisy is the first person narrator, I found her motivations unusually difficult to fathom as the book went on and she began intentionally cultivating Leo's ugliest, predator-minded traits in herself as a way of "breaking free."Daisy next meets Isolde, an Austrian trying to parlay her European background and blond good looks to enter the cocktail partying, elite upper echelons of Argentinean society, though she is almost penniless and in Austria her position and accomplishments were nothing special. Isolde is the third women in the story and less important than the other two, but though not always admirable she at least remains a sympathetic character.I'm sure there will be readers who love The Foreigners, and who "get" it in a way that I don't. For me, while the writing was often beautiful and I found the book initially engaging, even exhilarating, my final impression was marred by the baffled distaste I felt in the later sections.