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The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy

The Dud Avocado

Part of the Virago Modern Classics Series
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A young girl in the 1950’s leaves her home of the States and sets off to Paris in search of adventure. Firmly turning he back on all things conventional Sally Jay embarks on adventures and a swift education in growing up. A great coming of age book.

July 2010 Guest Editor Louise Candlish on Elaine Dundy...

This has always been my favourite rite-of-passage book. I much prefer Sally Jay Gorce to Holden Caulfield and the others. She is charm itself. No other book makes me want to time-travel so much, to go to Paris in the ’50s and drift about being frivolous and spontaneous and generally intoxicated by the very idea of love.


The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy

THE DUD AVOCADO gained instant cult status on first publication and remains a timeless portrait of a woman hellbent on living. It is, as the GUARDIAN observes, 'one of the best novels about growing up fast'. Sally Jay Gorce is a woman with a mission. It's the 1950s, she's young, and she's in Paris. Having dyed her hair pink, she wears evening dresses in the daytime and vows to go native in a way not even the natives can manage. Embarking on an educational programme that includes an affair with a married man (which fizzles out when she realises he's single and wants to marry her); nights in cabarets and jazz clubs in the company of assorted citizens of the world ; an entanglement with a charming psychopath; and a bit part in a film financed by a famous matador. But an education like this doesn't come cheap. Will our heroine be forced back to the States to fulfill her destiny as a librarian, or can she keep up her whirlwind Parisian existence?


'A champagne cocktail ... Rich, invigorating, and deceptively simple to the taste ... One falls for Sally Jay Gorce from a great height from the first sentence'

'A carbonated first novel that will set male readers to thinking sheepishly of plain wrappers'

'As delightful and delicate an examination of how it is to be twenty and in love and in Paris as I've ever read'

'Scandalous and entertaining ... Both funny and true'

A young American loose in Paris in 1958 is caught up in a heady whirl of affairs, champagne cocktails, outrageous evening frocks and, before she knows it, a plot of sinister implications. As a funny-sad rites-of-passage story, this is up there with Catcher in the Rye, and in Sally Jay Gorce, Dundy gave the 20th century one of its most memorable heroines. (Kirkus UK)

About the Author

Elaine Dundy

Elaine Dundy was born in New York. As an actress she worked in Paris and London and then became a writer. She has written plays, biographies and novels including the bestselling THE DUD AVOCADO, her first novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

6th February 1997


Elaine Dundy

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Virago Press Ltd an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group


336 pages


Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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