Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Family Man, Elinor Lipman

Posted by lea at 3:59 PM
The Family Man is funny and charming and witty and sweet. What I love about Elinor Lipman is that her stories don't need to be dramatised or heightened to be interesting, and she doesn't dumb down the narrative for mass appeal. Her writing is just gorgeous, like dipping a big red luscious strawberry into melted Belgian chocolate and letting it set.

At the core of the story is Henry, a single recently-retired divorcee, who has since come to terms with his homosexuality. The catalyst is the funeral of his ex-wife's third husband, which in a roundabout way re-connects Henry with his long-lost but still beloved stepdaughter Thalia, embroiling him in her media-spun romance with a horror director, and the arrival of a new love interest. Sound convoluted? You'd think so, but it's not. Lipman makes everything sound like a natural string of events.

She's often compared to Jane Austen in a lot of her reviews: my two cents worth is that the similarities in the two authors are their wonderful wit, insight into human behaviour and gently mocking social commentary. Austen is a sparklier writer though - her dialogue zings, while Lipman shines more when it comes to internal monologue.

I closed the last page on this book with some wistfulness. I would've loved for it to last longer - I needed this dose of literary medication after reading the last dud.


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