In her sixth novel, Cynthia Ozick retells the story of
Henry James's The Ambassadors as a photographic negative,
retaining the plot but reversing the meaning.
Foreign Bodies transforms Henry James's prototype into
a brilliant, utterly original, new American classic. At the core of
the story is Bea Nightingale, a fiftyish divorced schoolteacher
whose life has been on hold during the many years since her brief
marriage. When her estranged, difficult brother asks her to leave
New York for Paris to retrieve a nephew she barely knows, she
becomes entangled in the lives of her brother's family and even,
after so long, her ex-husband. Every one of them is irrevocably
changed by the events of just a few months in that fateful year.
Traveling from New York to Paris to Hollywood, aiding and abetting
her nephew and niece while waging a war of letters with her
brother, facing her ex-husband and finally shaking off his
lingering sneers from decades past, Bea Nightingale is a newly
liberated divorcee who inadvertently wreaks havoc on the very
people she tries to help.