When Amy Hawkins, a young dot-com executive from California who has made her fortune at the top of NASDAQ, overhears a pair of elderly and thus much wiser socialites decry the new generation for their incompetence in all things worldly, she sets off for Europe to find culture, her roots, and maybe a cause to devote her considerable fortune to. Amy starts her quest at one of the finest small hotels in the French Alps (a hotel noted for skiing and its famous cooking lessons) in the town of Valmeri.A few days into her trip, Amy is nearly swept away by an avalanche (started, some say, by low-American warplanes). Two of the hotel's guests, esteemed English publisher Adrian Venn and his much younger American wife, Kerry, were not as fortunate as Amy. Both lie comatose in a nearby hospital. Learning that French and English law dictate a very different division of money depending on where Adrian dies, Adrian's children (young, old, legitimate, and illegitimate) assemble in Valmeri to protect their interests should he not pull through. Amy, already suspect as an American, finds that her nationality freezes the social climate as she steps in to assist the family. In her innocence, Amy sets in motion a series of events in France and England that spotlight ancient national differences, customs, and laws. Add one or two small affairs that may topple carefully balanced alliances, and soon it is as the French say, a situation. Hailed as witty, delicious, nuanced and fresh by book critics across the country, Diane Johnson has composed her most amusing and insightful character to date in young Amy Hawkins. A contemporary masterpiece sure to entertain, L'Affaire is a perfectly drawn comedy of manners abroad.
© 2003 Diane Johnson; (P) 2003 Books on Tape, Inc.