Book Review ~ Lulu In Marrakech by Diane Johnson

Summary ~ Lulu In Marrakech:   Lulu Sawyer, the heroine of Diane Johnson’s captivating new novel, arrives in Marrakech, Morocco, hoping to rekindle her romance with a worldly Englishman, Ian Drumm. It’s the perfect cover for her assignment with the American CIA: tracing the flow of money from well-heeled donors to radical Islamic groups. While spending her days poolside among Europeans, in villas staffed by local maids in abayas, and her nights at lively dinner parties, Lulu observes the fragile coexistence of two cultures which, if not yet clashing, have begun to show signs of fracture. Beneath the surface of this polite expatriate community lies a more sinister world laced not only with double standards, but with double agents.

As she navigates the complex interface of Islam and the West, Lulu stumbles into unforeseen intrigues: A young Muslim girl, Suma, is hiding from a brother intent on an honor killing; and a beautiful Saudi woman, Gazi, who is vying for Ian’s love, leaves her husband in a desperate bid to escape her repressive society. The more Lulu immerses herself in the workings of Marrakech, the more questions emerge; and when bombs explode, the danger is palpable.

Lulu’s mission ultimately has tragic consequences, but along the way readers will fall in love with this endearing young woman as she improvises her way through the souk, her love life, and her profession. As in her previous novels, Diane Johnson weaves a dazzling tale in the great tradition of works about naive Americans abroad and the laws of unintended consequence, with a new, fascinating assortment of characters, as well as witty, trenchant observations on the manners and morals of a complicated moment in history.

Lulu in Marrakech

Lulu In Marrakech is a post-911 look at foreign counter intelligence in Morocco.  The novel, by award winning, bestselling author of Le Divorce author, Diane Johnson, stars Lulu, a CIA agent assigned to build a case in Marrakech.  She has conveniently met and fallen into bed/love with an English businessman named Ian.  Now, Ian may or not be who he says he is and has the potential to be involved in some shady business deals with radical Islamic groups.  With a cast of interchanging characters going in and out the revolving door that is Ian’s dessert oasis, things are never too dull for a CIA agent who isn’t always sure where her assignment will lead. 

Lulu In Marrakech was a bit slow, as is the work of an embedded Foreign Counter Intelligence CIA agent in a foreign land.  The characters and scenarios that Lulu is faced with in Lulu in Marrakech may lend for an intriguing read for some, but I lost interest fairly early in the story and never recovered my interest in Lulu and her unfocused story. 

{Rating ~ 1 out of 5}

It seems that I am not the only one who didn’t care for Diane Johnson’s latest penned release.  The New York Times just published their review of Lulu In Marrakech and though they were much harsher than I was with their review, I completely agree with the reviewer.  You can check it out HERE.

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