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Extended Audio Sample Foreign Bodies Audiobook, by Cynthia Ozick Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.00250941028858 out of 53.00250941028858 out of 53.00250941028858 out of 53.00250941028858 out of 53.00250941028858 out of 5 3.00 (797 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Cynthia Ozick Narrator: Tandy Cronyn Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2010 ISBN: 9781449866617
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Cynthia Ozick is a literary treasure. In her sixth novel, she retraces Henry James’ The Ambassadors and delivers a brilliant, utterly new American classic.

At the center of the story is Bea Nightingale, a divorced schoolteacher whose life has been on hold during the many years since her brief marriage. When her estranged, difficult brother asks her to travel to Europe to retrieve a nephew she barely knows, she becomes entangled in the lives of his family. 

Over the course of a few months she travels from New York to Paris to Hollywood, aiding and abetting her nephew and niece while waging a war of letters with her brother—and finally facing her ex-husband to shake off his lingering sneers from decades past. As she inadvertently wreaks havoc in their lives, every one of them is irrevocably changed.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Ozick’s dramatic inquiry into the malignance of betrayal; exile literal and emotional; the many tentacles of anti-Semitism; and the balm and aberrance of artistic obsession is brilliantly nuanced and profoundly disquieting.”

    Booklist

  • “An extraordinary novel, loosely based on The Ambassadors—but Ozick manages to out-James the master himself…This is superb, dazzling fiction. Ozick richly observes and lovingly crafts each character, and every sentence is a tribute to her masterful command of language.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Ozick has achieved another success. Henry James—the master—would not be displeased.”

    Miami Herald

  • “This is vintage Ozick; she is, perhaps, our most classical contemporary novelist, with a strong sense of literary heritage.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “What makes this novel such an absorbing achievement is not so much its slanted replications of the story line of The Ambassadors…but the witty, fierce way in which it goes about upending the whole theme and meaning and stylistic manner of its revered precurser…Foreign Bodies is a nimble, entertaining literary homage, but it is also, chillingly, what James would have called ‘the real thing.’”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Raucous, funny, ferocious, and tragic. A literary master, as James was, Ozick makes all those qualities fit together seamlessly, and with heartbreaking effect.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • A 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Fiction
  • An Indie Next Notable Title, November 2010
  • One of the 2012 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction
  • Shortlisted for the 2012 Orange Prize

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kc | 2/18/2014

    " The one thing this book did for me was make me want to read Henry James' The Ambassadors. Otherwise I found it kind of tedious. The main character keeps making these absurd decisions that deeply affect the people around her. The people around her have interesting moments but I couldn't find them very sympathetic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shelley | 2/16/2014

    " Beautifully written book, like poetry. What a writer! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tish | 2/16/2014

    " This book had a familiar ring to it when I began reading it... but I soon found out that is was a variation of Henry James "The Ambassadors" "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jamie | 2/15/2014

    " Every single character is extremely annoying. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cindy | 2/8/2014

    " Engrossing and powerful book. Read it in 3 days because I could not put it down for long. I found all of the characters moving, slightly painful and very real. Loved it all! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kate | 2/8/2014

    " Eccentric, insightful, beautifully written, angry, or filled with angry characters, and oddly the angriest characters were those who enjoyed the most "success" in mid-twentieth century America. The most sympathetic characters had the least control over their destiny. And, of course, there's a teacher in the story, and teaching is portrayed as a dead-end activity, one that doesn't fulfill any of the potential of a human being for art or spirit or connection. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John | 1/30/2014

    " "Foreign Bodies", Cynthia Ozick's latest novel, is a brilliant twist on Henry James's "The Ambassadors". Set nearly three-quarters of century after James's novel, immediately after World War II, "Foreign Bodies" can be seen as the former's mirror image. However, that would be a most simplistic - if not derivative - means of describing it, especially when Ozick has created one of the most memorable characters I have encountered in recent contemporary fiction; Bea Nightingale. Simultaneously irascible and likeable, Nightingale is a veritable force of nature, whose presence disrupts the lives of those around her. She's sent on an errand by her estranged brother to look after his son, her ne'er-do-well nephew, in postwar Paris. There she meets not only her nephew, but his lover, an Eastern European refugee. How she becomes involved with her nephew and his lover is one I'll keep a secret, but it is a secret well worth uncovering via Ozick's elegant ear for dialogue and sparse, but lyrical, descriptive prose. Hers is definitely among the most remarkable literary achievements I have read within recent years. Without question, Ozick has written a modern American literary classic that pays ample homage to its predecessor in spirit, if not in its literary style and content, and yet it is a classic that demonstrates her own unique, quite captivating, literary voice. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 K2 ----- | 1/19/2014

    " Read a favorable review of the book, had never read Ozick, and was NOT impressed. I completed it as I kept thinking I must have been missing something that was going to turn it around. I found the book to be wholly unsatisfactory and am puzzled by all the three, four and five star reviews here. I didn't find any of the characters to be believable or fleshed out enough to relate to. Disappointing indeed on a long weekend I could have been reading other things I had standing by. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kb | 1/12/2014

    " It was beautifully written and captures the sorrows of Europe after WWII. However, I think I missed a whole couple of layers of meaning because I had never read Henry James' The Ambassadors. Oops. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth | 12/27/2013

    " Not as good as The Ambassadors, but interesing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Margot | 12/14/2013

    " I think one would really have to like The Ambassadors to like this one. Had some high points but a lot of the writing was cluttered and exhausting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marilyn | 12/13/2013

    " This was tough going, but worth it. Extremely well-written. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Frank | 12/4/2013

    " I don't get it... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donna | 8/20/2013

    " I liked that most of the characters infuriated me; this usually means that I am involved in the story. Moody and well-written. I never read James's The Ambassadors so I could not compare. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Darlene | 7/24/2013

    " It's 1952 in NYC, Paris and LA. Estranged, middle-aged siblings reconnect as brother entreats sister to help abort the wanderings of his rebelling children. A fascinating deconstruction of love's many overtures. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Gillian | 7/21/2012

    " I only read about 50 pages...didn't really like it. Perhaps because written in an old fashioned way. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Richard R | 6/8/2012

    " Very trite and uninteresting. Dull and overused plot and characters forced me to put it down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Noreen | 12/17/2011

    " Such exquisite sentences, such energy, such a sly and subtle sense of humor! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Damson | 12/15/2011

    " I always felt a distance from the ensemble cast in this novel, perhaps because of the period, more likely because of their demeanours. And yet, at times, I identified closely too, to these selfish beings. I can't say more than that without spoiling it. Great book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynn | 9/19/2011

    " Wonderful writing: dense, image-rich and detailed prose. A really big story for only 255 pages. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Raghu | 7/20/2011

    " A book from our time retelling a tale from another time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Phyllis | 7/7/2011

    " This is an intriguing and almost mystical story, of a middle aged woman suspended in her past who is changed by the demands of an annoying brother. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 hagar | 6/8/2011

    " A little hard to connect with the characters given the florid language and the emotional reticence of everyone. But still powerful somehow. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 AnnieBebop | 5/28/2011

    " Enjoyed it. Very well written. But an unsatisfying ending. Not the first author with that kind of problem. Now to find Henry Jame's "The Ambassadors" on which this book is based. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judy | 3/25/2011

    " Cynthia Ozick can make you feel the most transient, complex feeling with just a few words. I can't honestly say I understood the whole novel, but I feel like that's because I just haven't lived long enough yet. I also enjoyed the phantom 1950's that appeared here and there. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ellen | 3/20/2011

    " Wonderful...update on Henry James' The Ambassadors "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Catherine | 2/26/2011

    " Hmmm. What to say here? The writing is beautiful, the character development is interesting. Not sure why I didn't love it more...timing, maybe? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tish | 2/16/2011

    " This book had a familiar ring to it when I began reading it... but I soon found out that is was a variation of Henry James "The Ambassadors" "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 1/19/2011

    " I've never read Ozick. Lordy. What a literary talent! The story was interesting but the characters were either mean or ineffective. I wanted to root for Bea, but I didn't understand why she did the things she did or her reactions to other characters. I will read more of Ozick. "

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About the Author
Author Cynthia Ozick

Cynthia Ozick is the author of numerous acclaimed works. She is a recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Man Booker International Prize. Her stories have won four O. Henry first prizes.

About the Narrator

Tandy Cronyn was born in Los Angeles in 1945. She has appeared in many plays both on and off Broadway, and has also made several film and television appearances, including Twisted and Law & Order: Cruel and Unusual.