Isabel Walker, a young, not-so-innocent, American abroad, arrives in Paris to find that her sister's French husband ("the frog prince") has just walked out. While Isabel embarks on her own sentimental education - seduced by gourmet food, antiques, existentialism and an older man - her sister's marriage disintegrates into bitter Franco-American wrangles over money, titles and a mysterious painting.
With a sharp tongue and an ironic eye for the foibles of the Parisian bourgeoisie, the French art world and American ex-patriots, Isabel is a collector of experience, even those she can't control.
A charming comedy given a darker tone by a sub-plot involving criminal activity in the art world and a "crime passionnel", this is an exploration of the clash of cultures that arises when Americans are transplanted in Europe.
Shortlisted for the 1997 National Book Award.