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The Great Husband Hunt    by Laurie Graham order for
Great Husband Hunt
by Laurie Graham
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2003)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I enjoyed Laurie Graham's Great Husband Hunt even more than I did her Future Homemakers of America. It reads like a cross between Auntie Mame and Forrest Gump. Mustard heiress, strong-willed Poppy Minkel, attaches and discards husbands just like Mame (even meeting the first in a department store, while the second belongs to an aristocratic hunting family), and she shares an adult naiveté (though not his simplemindedness) with Gump.

Poppy is somewhat of a Jewish American Princess (though the family's degree of Jewishness blows in the winds of social acceptance) who feels in turn harrassed and neglected by her mother and Aunt Fish. The story opens as her father, Abraham Minkel, is lost with the Titanic, on which he sailed with his Irish 'cutie', Nellie (he went back for her muff). We follow Poppy's perspective on a journey through a life that encompasses World Wars I and II, New York life, Parisian soireées and the English aristocracy. All her good deeds (like saving French Jews during the Holocaust) appear accidental, and her faults are many. We wonder whether she is simply shallow and selfish, or a damaged child who never grew up properly.

But whatever she does, 'Hot Stuff' Poppy is hilarious and her relationship with half-brother Murray is endearing (I love his silly haikus). Poppy relates to him because she knows 'the kind of plans and ideas that can run unchecked in the mind of a lonely, longing child' and he remains a constant (though often a very critical one) in her long life. The ending is charming and entirely satisfying. I recommend The Great Husband Hunt to you as a delightful romp through the twentieth century.

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