Kate Caroline recommends The Dud Avocado, and explains why we should read beyond the storyline to find its inner spirit.
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy is, on the surface, perhaps not a very original plot line. It is the story of an American’s adventures in Paris. However, digging beyond the surface and looking at the book’s finer details, The Dud Avocado is the unique tale of one woman’s exploits and experiences in 1950s Paris.
I picked up this book purely by chance at a lovely little bookstore in Washington, D.C. The title intrigued me, and the book was on sale, so I bought it. As it turns out, it was a great purchase. The Dud Avocado is one of my favorite books.
The book opens with Sally Jay Gorce, the main character and narrator of The Dud Avocado, wearing an evening gown walking down a Parisian Boulevard in the middle of the day. She goes to a cafe with an actor friend, where she sees her Italian diplomat lover, and the story tumbles along from there.
Sally Jay is a vivacious young American woman who has impulsively left to live in Paris and dyed her hair red, as part of her new ‘Parisian look’. Throughout the story Sally Jay throws herself into life, moving about between nightclubs, cafes, and even jail at one point, and wandering the streets of Paris amidst it all.
Reading The Dud Avocado, you want to have Sally Jay’s life: carefree, uninhibited life that is never dull for one second. Sally Jay strives only to not be bored; she can’t stand sitting around with nothing to do, and so she creates things to do if she has to.
Elaine Dundy’s own experiences
Dundy based her first novel to some extent on her own experiences in Paris, and wrote that, “Of the various things that happen to Sally Jay, some had also happened to me. I must add, however, that often when I got stuck I would say to myself, ‘What would I not do?’ And then have Sally Jay do it; and I would be off again.”
The success of The Dud Avocado
The Dud Avocado was an immediate huge success, climbing to the tops of bestseller lists. Dundy received a letter from Groucho Marx that said:
“Dear [Ms. Dundy], […] I had to tell someone (and it might as well be you since you’re the author) how much I enjoyed The Dud Avocado. It made me laugh, scream and guffaw (which incidentally is a great name for a law firm). If this was actually your life, I don’t know how on earth you got through it. Sincerely, Groucho Marx.”
The Dud Avocado is a must read book for the person with an adventurous spirit, or someone looking to live vicariously through someone else’s adventures.
What did you think of The Dud Avocado? Let us know in the comments below.