Elinor Lipman

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On Turpentine Lane, a novel
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The Press and Media Drawer

February 2017

Michelle Wildgen has written a lovely review of On Turpentine Lane for The New York Times Book Review: "Light and tight, On Turpentine Lane is constructed with an almost scary mastery. Not a single thread dangles, not a single character is left without a place in Faith's world. The story folds out and back in as neatly as an origami flower, and Faith recounts it all with a raised eyebrow and plenty of cheek."

June 2013

"Living The Wry Life With Elinor Lipman," Bibliostar.TV

"Talking with Elinor Lipman conjures a feeling of stepping back into a classic 1940s screwball comedy. Crisp, witty, and a deft deliverer of the side-splitting ..."

June 2009

Read an interview with Elinor at Loaded Questions with Kelly Hewitt.

June 2007

My Latest Grievance won The Poetry Center's 2007 Paterson Fiction Prize "awarded annually for a novel or collection of short stories which the judges deem to be the strongest work of fiction published that year."

In May I received the 2007 NELINET (New England Library and Information Network) award "created to recognize the contributions of an individual associated with New England who has significantly advanced the arts and letters."

September 2006

Very nice words from British cooking star Nigella Lawson, bless her heart: Click here

More reviews and praise

The View from Penthouse B

"I'm certain that a palm reader would trace a long laugh line in Lipman's hand... The View From Penthouse B sparkles with wit.... as satisfying as a red velvet cupcake." Dominique Browning, for The New York Times Book Review

"It's all wonderful fun. Lipman sketches her characters' foibles with amused affection and moves the plot forward with practiced ease...The heart of her story is a touching portrait of sisterly devotion. Extravagant, excessive Margot and quiet Gwen couldn't be more different. They bluntly decry each other's mistakes, but they are fiercely loyal and protective. It's giving nothing away to say that both sisters get the happy ending they deserve because Lipman's fiction always honors an implicit contract to provide reader satisfaction." Wendy Smith, for The Washington Post

"In both her fiction and her nonfiction, Lipman's acuity as a social observer makes her voice seem to belong to a wise and funny friend...Lipman's milieu is gentle comedy, and her novels gravitate toward optimism: They're mischievous, sometimes wry, but hopeful of romance and redemption even in an emotionally messy world." Laura Collins-Hughes, for The Boston Globe

"Winning and often wildly funny..." Melinda Bargreen, for Seattle Times

I Can't Complain

"Her essays celebrate an uncommon virtue: common decency. Lipman is eloquent and loving about her childhood, growing up with good Irish neighbors who accepted the only Jewish family in their midst. In several essays, Lipman meditates on the large and small kindnesses that have shaped her outlook. Yes, Lipman is nice, sensitive, positive—and old-fashioned... She wears her heart on her sleeve. And, in the end, that has as much going for it in the way of profundity as anything a bitter, snarky postmodernist has to offer." Dominique Browning, for The New York Times Book Review

"Her good nature twinkles on virtually every page of I Can't Complain, a collection garnered from pieces written for magazines, Web sites and newspapers (including The Washington Post). As readers of her fiction know, Lipman is unfailingly funny, and comic flashes illuminate even her saddest essays." Wendy Smith, for The Washington Post

"A feast of bite-sized morsels of humor and wisdom." Kirkus Reviews

"Whether or not one is a Lipman fan before reading this collection, he or she most certainly will be by the time the final page is turned." Publishers Weekly

The Family Man

"Elinor Lipman's social satire is Larry David without the high-pitched whine. Her novels have the clean, airy lines of P.G. Wodehouse and E.F. Benson. Her irony is not mean, not at the expense of any particular race, creed or color. Things get messy, but the promise of resolution allows for a beautiful circulation in her writing—a reader doesn't feel indignant; body parts do not clench. No one is trying to manipulate you into feeling something. It's hard (even annoying) to have to put her novels, including this latest, 'The Family Man,' down." The Los Angeles Times

"A divorced gay man's vanquished paternalism returns when he reconnects with his long-lost stepdaughter in Lipman's hilarious and moving 10th novel. Set in New York, the book opens with Henry Archer phoning his ex-wife, Denise, to offer condolences over the death of her husband, the man Denise divorced then-closeted Henry for. Upon visiting Denise, Henry notices photos of now grown stepdaughter Thalia, a charming wannabe actress he recognizes from the hair salon in his neighborhood, and determines to reenter her life. What ensues is a heartwarming reconnection as Henry and Thalia relearn what it means to be a father and daughter, respectively. When Thalia is hired by a PR firm to play the role of real-life girlfriend to a struggling actor, Henry's fatherly instinct and legal background compel him to ask Thalia to move in with him and to serve as her attorney. During the process of managing Thalia's career, Henry also grows closer to Denise, meets a handsome man and rediscovers the joy of family. The plot alone will suck in readers, but Lipman's knack for creating lovable and multifaceted characters is the real draw." Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"So, divorced, gay Henry reunites with his stepkid, who's now an actress hired to pretend to date a C-list celeb, and she moves into Henry's house. How can that not be funny?" Entertainment Weekly (5/8/09) "Must List"

"In The Family Man, a sparkling, sprightly comedy—Elinor Lipman's 10th—dapper Manhattan attorney Henry Archer gets the shock of his life when he realizes the receptionist he's just tipped is none other than his stepdaughter, Thalia, whom he hasn't seen in 25 years. Before long, Thalia's back in his life (ensconced in his maisonette apartment, in fact), and Henry's got his hands full with her, his endlessly chatty ex-wife Denise, a new lover, and the countless others who wander in and out of his elegant Upper West Side brownstone. As always, the pleasure of a Lipman book is not so much the wispy plot but the original, funny, achingly human characters. Grade: A" Entertainment Weekly

"With all the requisite elements, including sparkling dialog, a clash of personalities, and delightfully flawed characters—not to mention unusual family situations and overbearing matriarchs—this book offers readers hints of Lipman's previous books, from Then She Found Me to The Dearly Departed. When the comfortably wealthy and homosexual Henry Archer's recently widowed ex-wife, Denise Krouch, reappears after 24 years, his ordered life is turned upside down... Evocative of both Jane Austen and Entertainment Weekly, this will be another hit with Lipman fans. Highly recommended." Library Journal

"Just because something is 'light' doesn't mean it's not masterful. Lipman's use of dialogue, for instance, is exquisite. ...Though I read this book twice, I see that I stopped taking notes both times halfway through. Lipman mesmerized me. She hypnotized me. I admit it freely: I fell victim to the Elinor Lipman Effect." Carolyn See, Washington Post [Read the full review]

"Her world view? Her enthusiasm, her effortless wit? Just a few of the reasons we love Elinor Lipman. Lipman's characters are keenly observant. What they observe is a harmony that feels almost subversive, that things not only can turn out well, that they probably will, that life can—at least at certain moments—indeed feel charmed." Jane Vandenburgh , The Boston Globe [Read the full review]

My Latest Grievance

"Elinor Lipman is a far more serious novelist than she pretends to be or is allowed to be by reviewers....Up there at the top is where this enchanting, infinitely witty yet serious, exceptionally intelligent, wholly original and Austen-like stylist belongs... " Fay Weldon, for Washington Post Bookworld [Read the full review]

"Lovable and psychologically astute...As Lipman's bittersweet farce unfolds, she uncovers a family romance of an usual kind...the dance separating parent, child and fascinating interloper." New York Times Book Review

"If Elinor Lipman were less smart (in the American sense), and if there were any justice in the world of books, her novels would be storming the bestseller lists. They are quirkily romantic, funny, beautifully plotted and written with the sort of painstaking craft that seems effortless....superb...an unalloyed delight." Sunday Times (London)

"[D]elightful.... Lipman's dialogue is consistently mirthful, her entire book filled with witty, quotable bons mots.... but with carefully timed reminders of her characters' painful reality, [Lipman] turns her comedy of manners into something a good deal more moving....[H]er marvelously funny stories take place in a world recognizably our own." The Boston Globe [Read the full review]

"Terrific...Lipman's wit and style are all her own. She is one of the best comic writers around, and the Hatch family is her most memorable creation yet." Sunday Telegraph (London)

"Somebody hand Elinor Lipman an award already. The Massachusetts writer consistently turns out witty, intelligent novels that seem to suffer from Barbara Pym syndrome: They're just so smoothly done, readers tend to undervalue them....Lipman unleashes the satire without ever losing her generosity toward her characters or her sense of comic timing." The Christian Science Monitor

"The snap and crackle of Lipman's dialogue sets a thrilling pace....Letting Lipman run with a character as precocious as Frederica is like handing Tiger a bucket of golf balls. They'll move in ways you never thought possible." Daily Hampshire Gazette

"No one balances seriousness and hilarity better than Elinor Lipman.... Add My Latest Grievance to the list of her excellent works: It's a heartfelt story filled with people you'll be thinking about long after you turn the last page. Frederica is the sort of refreshingly articulate young adult seldom found among the sullen, navel-gazing teens populating modern fiction. ... My Latest Grievance is joyfully witty; this is not-to-be-missed reading that'll leave you wishing you could enroll at Dewing College, if only to meet the Hatches." Bookpage

"Harkening back to her The Inn at Lake Devine (1998) days, Lipman—known for her wit, sharp societal observations, and lovely command of language—has created a novel of warmth, wisdom, love, and redemption that is funny and fun to read. Frederica Hatch narrates, and if Eloise, of Plaza Hotel fame, were older,kinder, and more outwardly directed, Frederica would be her soul mate. Lipman skillfully matches the cadence of Frederica's growing up with the developments of the story to create moments to cherish and characters to adore." Booklist

"In the late 1970s, Frederica Hatch is the enchantingly outspoken daughter of brilliant college professors at a minor all-girls college in Massachusetts. ...Lipman creates that rare blend of no-nonsense compassion and believable, offbeat innocence that is completely irresistible. ...Highly recommended." Beth E. Anderson, Ann Arbor District Library, for Library Journal (Starred Review)

"Frederica Hatch—the articulate, curious, and naïve narrator of Lipman's eighth novel—proves the perfect vehicle for this satiric yet compassionate family portrait. As in previous novels, Lipman addresses sensitive issues (anti-Semitism, adultery, dementia) with delicacy and acerbity. She also nails the shifts and moods of an angry teenager, a grandmother in denial, a philanderer in hiding and a campus in shock. By the end, a smart young girl learns compassion for a world that can be grotesquely, hilariously, disturbingly unfair." Publishers' Weekly

The Pursuit of Alice Thrift

"The most perfect piece of prose writing to come along in quite a while." Philadelphia Weekly

"Snappy wit, a clever plot and the sheer fun of a book you can?t put down await readers of Lipman's eighth novel, surely her best to date. Though miserably unequipped with self-esteem, Alice is an intelligent, well-brought-up offspring of upper-middle-class parents. Why, then, does she fall prey to the romantic blandishments of Ray Russo, a vulgar loudmouth and con artist...That Lipman can make this story plausible, and tell it with humor, psychological insight and rising suspense, is a triumph." Publisher's Weekly

"Like Jane Austen, the past master of the genre, Lipman isn't only out for laughs. She serves up social satire, too, that's all the more trenchant for being deftly drawn." Book Magazine

"Lipman is the diva of dialogue; her repartée flashes like Zorro's sword." People

The Dearly Departed

"Nothing short of brilliant...A story so funny and so pleasurable that the reader can only wish it did not have to end." Booklist

"Witty and wry...this is summer reading at its best." The Atlantic Monthly

"Pitch perfectly hilarious...Almost nobody writes serious entertainment with more panache." Chicago Tribune

"The Dearly Departed contains a core of dark and mordant wit that distinguishes it, in delightful ways, from the norm." Washington Post Book World

The Ladies' Man

"I loved every page of this very funny, insightful, sophisticated yet good-natured book." Anita Gates, for The New York Times Book Review

"Delightful...Once you start reading this book, you won't want to do anything else." Newsday

"Lipman has been referred to as 'master of the art of screwball comedy,' but 'screwball' doesn't do justice to her fiction, which renders serious subjects through a lens of humor and hope." The Boston Globe

The Inn at Lake Devine

"A tale of delicious revenge."USA Today

"A funny, knowing novel about how love really does conquer all....Thanks to Lipman's deft touch, the novel rivals her own best work for its understanding of the way smart, opinionated people stumble toward happiness."Glamour

"An author who was born with an auto-immune system already primed against clichés and an ear for dialogue sharper than an electronic listening system."The Times (London)

Isabel's Bed

"If Jane Austen had been born about two centuries later, gone to Smith, then palled around with Fran Lebowitz, chances are she'd have written like Elinor Lipman. She is one of the last urbane romantics....As always, Lipman makes us laugh out loud..."Julia Glass, for the Chicago Tribune

"You can keep your revenge tragedies; for my money there's nothing more delectable than a good revenge comedy. The modern standard has been set by Fay Weldon's The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, but in Isabel's Bed Elinor Lipman has written something at least in the same league: a winsome, even sweet tale of a women spurned and self-redeemed."Los Angeles Times Book Review

"What is so engaging about Isabel's Bed is its droll, deadpan tone. Practically every paragraph contains something that makes you smile or laugh... It is a gift, as well as a skill, to be able to write a well-turned-out phrase that elicits a faint smile, and Elinor Lipman appears to do it effortlessly, page after page."Lisa Alther, for the Boston Globe

The Way Men Act

"With The Way Men Act, Elinor Lipman emerges as a full-fledge talent, a witty, compassionate chronicler of modern sensibility, wise without beating the reader over the head with her insights...Written in spare, sparkling prose, with not a flat or dragging millisecond."Michael Dorris, for The Boston Globe

"Elinor Lipman's language is so superb that to paraphrase would be murder. Part of the joy of this wise and charming novel is in the writing. The rest is in the thinking—smart, offbeat, funny. What a pleasure."Cosmopolitan

"In a league with Jane Austen...Elinor Lipman's eye for social geography instantly infatuates, just as the screwball plot charms with its basic tenet of successful courtship: location, location, location."Glamour

Then She Found Me

"An enchanting tale of love in assorted forms....full of charm, humor and unsentimental wisdom....Raising laughter and ears with acutely observed characterizations and dry, affectionate wit, she also keeps dealing out the surprises, leaving readers smiling long after the last page is turned."Publishers' Weekly

"First-rate...stylish, original....delightful...Then She Found Me is a little, big-hearted book with the capacity to stir surprisingly deep feelings."Boston Globe

"A first novel of vast charm...will pierce the heart as well as the funny bone."New York Daily News

Now Featuring

On Turpentine Lane, a novel