The Life Of The Party by Maureen Freely. New York. 1985. Simon & Schuster. 416 pages. Jacket design by Fred Marcellino. 0671506145.


A novel of American expatriate life in Istanbul that is by turns funny and tragic, from the translator of Nobel Prize winner, Orhan Pamuk.




   Hector Cabot was known to e the life of every party he attended in Istanbul: a famous rascal, an incorrigible womanizer, a good-for-nothing charmer, a loser of geese. That last attribute was commemorated each year on 'Hector Cabot Goosebuying Day' in honor of the famous binge in 1962 when he went downtown to buy a goose for Christmas dinner and returned three days later completely naked except for a Turkish flag. Hector taught at Woodrow College perched above the Bosphorus. Other members of the expatriate circle, though not quite as flamboyant as Hector, were avid spectators of, if not participants in, the decadence: Meredith Lacey, who stalked married men like wild game; her husband, Leslie, melancholy in his repressed homosexuality; Stella Ashe, lover of Hector and mother of his child; Stella's husband, Thomas, the quarry of Meredith Lacey. Those also featured in Maureen Freely's astonishing cast include Hector's demonic Greek mother, Aspasia, whose life is devoted to taunting her daughter-in-law, Amy, the long-suffering victim of Hector's philandering and hijinks; Emin Bey, the elegant and educated Turk who is friend and admirer of Hector; and his nephew Ismet, a secret policeman whose ambition leads him to invent dark secrets about the crowd of fast-living Westerners. Maureen Freely superbly portrays the expatriate party dwindling to its end against the backdrop of Turkeys own internal tensions. This is a marvelous, rich, funny book--full of life--peopled with engaging, sharply drawn characters, offering a sensitive portrait of the clash of cultures. Maureen Freely's vitality and precision as a writer, her ability to capture the niceties of social comedy and tragedy, make THE LIFE OF THE PARTY a novel of breathtaking assurance, wholly fulfilling the promise of her wickedly amusing first novel, MOTHER'S HELPER.



Freely MaureenMaureen Freely was born in the US but grew up in Turkey, where her family still lives. She was educated at Radcliffe College (Harvard University) and has made her home in England for the past 22 years. She is the author of three works of non-fiction: PANDORA'S CLOCK (1993,) WHAT ABOUT US? (1995) AND THE PARENT TRAP (2000); AND SEVEN NOVELS: MOTHER'S HELPER (1979), THE LIFE OF THE PARTY (1985), THE STORK CLUB (1992), UNDER THE VULCANIA (1994), THE OTHER REBECCA (1996) and ENLIGHTENMENT (2007), which is set in Istanbul. She has been a regular contributor to The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent and The Sunday Times for two decades, writing on feminism, family and social policy, Turkish culture and politics, and contemporary writing. For the past ten years she has been the Deputy Director of the Writing Programme at the University of Warwick. She is perhaps best known for her translations of SNOW (2003), ISTANBUL: MEMORIES OF A CITY (2004) and THE BLACK BOOK (2005), by the Turkish novelist and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, and for her campaigning journalism after Pamuk and an estimated 80 other writers were prosecuted (and in the case of Hrant Dink, assassinated) for insulting Turkishness, state institutions, or the memory of Ataturk.






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