THE FAMILY MAN by Elinor Lipman

Book Quote:

“Throughout his manicure—how foolish he feels to be seen having his nails buffed and cuticles discussed—he ponders how to reveal himself to be the John Henry Archer whose fatherhood dissolved with a divorce.  He hates deception and is not good at it.  But is Thalia’s workplace the proper setting to announce a fact that would most certainly startle her?”

Book Review:

Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky (MAY 07, 2009)

In Elinor Lipman’s The Family Man, Henry Archer is a recently retired and unattached attorney who happens to be gay. Henry has a shallow, self-centered, and grating ex-wife, Denise, whose third husband, Glenn Krouch, recently passed away at the age of seventy. All of a sudden, Denise tries to weasel her way back into Henry’s good graces. She seeks free legal advice, since Krouch’s two sons from a former marriage have inherited pretty much everything from their late father. Denise gets a monthly allowance, monitored by the older son and executor, Glenn Junior. It seems that her stepsons are holding her to a prenuptial agreement, “a hideously airtight legal document,” that may even force her to leave her ten room apartment on Park Avenue in New York City.

Henry has no desire to become his ex-wife’s buddy or knight in shining armor. When he visits Denise, however, he notices photos of Thalia, his stepdaughter whom he hasn’t seen since she was a little girl. Much to his shock, he realizes that Thalia works in the salon where he has his hair cut. Henry decides to reacquaint himself with this now lovely twenty-nine year old woman, who is an aspiring actress and a delightful human being. They soon become fast friends, and Henry does his utmost to make up for the decades during which he and Thalia were separated.

Elinor Lipman is the undisputed queen of the contemporary comedy of manners, and once again, she serves up a frothy and witty soufflé with farcical overtones, a somewhat silly and lightweight plot, romantic entanglements, and amusing banter. The author never takes her subject matter too seriously. Instead, she has fun getting her offbeat cast of characters into and out of outlandish situations. Her theme is the importance of relationships between parents and children, husbands and wives, and any other configuration that works. During the course of this warm and witty novel, Henry  lets go of the past and embraces the future with renewed optimism and joy. He finally experiences the great satisfaction of loving someone special and being loved in return.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 70 reviewers
PUBLISHER: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (May 5, 2009)
REVIEWER: Eleanor Bukowsky
EXTRAS: Excerpt



May 7, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, Humorous

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