In Diane Johnson’s L’Affaire, Amy Hawkins, a smart, pretty Palo Alto girl who made herself a dot-com fortune, goes to France to get a sheen of sophistication and, perhaps, to have an affair that will ruffle her all-too-steady heart. Amy starts her quest in the French Alps in the town of Valméri, amid an assortment of aristocrats and ski enthusiasts.
When two of the hotel’s guests, esteemed English publisher Adrian Venn and his much younger American wife, Kerry, are swept away by an avalanche, Adrian’s children—young, old, legitimate, illegitimate—assemble in Valméri to protect their interests.
Amy, already suspect because she is American, steps in to assist, and unintentionally sets in motion a series of events that spotlight ancient national differences, customs, and laws. Filled with love, sex, death, and travel, L’Affaire is Diane Johnson at her very best in a comedy of contemporary manners played out between the sexes as they stumble over cultural barriers and slam into cultural stereotypes.