Elinor Lipman

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Ms. Demeanor, a novel

Ms. Demeanor

  • December 27, 2022
  • Harper
  • Hardcover, Kindle, iBook, Audio

Available now at bookstores and online

Jane Morgan is a valued member of her law firm—or was, until a prudish neighbor, binoculars poised, observes her having sex on the roof of her NYC apartment building.

Police are summoned, and a punishing judge sentences her to six months of home confinement. With Jane now jobless and rootless, trapped at home, life looks bleak. Yes, her twin sister provides support and advice, but mostly of the unwelcome kind. When a doorman lets slip that Jane isn't the only resident wearing an ankle monitor, she strikes up a friendship with fellow white-collar felon Perry Salisbury. As she tries to adapt to life within her apartment walls, she discovers she hasn't heard the end of that tattletale neighbor—whose past isn’t as decorous as her 9-1-1 snitching would suggest. Why are police knocking on Jane's door again? Can her house arrest have a silver lining? Can two wrongs make a right? In the hands of "an inspired alchemist who converts serious subject into humor" (New York Times Book Review)—yes, delightfully.

Reviews and praise

"Readers of Elinor Lipman's fiction have come to expect charm and clever high jinks... Ms. Demeanor carries on this tradition while adding a potent dose of wry social commentary. It's not every day that a reader gets to root for an unrepentant middle-aged woman. Lipman makes this envelope-pushing feel like a joyride – but don't be fooled by all the fun. Barriers are being broken. ... Satire trumps suspense in making Ms. Demeanor a page turner. ... As much a clap back to sexism as a celebration of guiltless pleasure." The New York Times

"Ms. Demeanor is a complete and utter delight. Of course it is. What Elinor Lipman novel isn't?" Richard Russo

"Who knew house arrest could be sexy and fun? Not me, at least not until I read Ms. Demeanor. Written with Elinor Lipman's signature wit and charm, this breezy, engrossing novel tells the story of two people who make the most of their shared confinement." Tom Perrotta, author of Election, The Leftovers, and Tracy Flick Can't Win

"Elinor Lipman, she of the lightest touch and quickest wit, has written a novel to delight even the weariest, wariest soul of our times. Art, food, real estate—New York City rises enthusiastically to embrace the reader. And the characters rise to embrace each other. Lockdowns morph into charming English villages, and love, as it must, wins out. An enchantment I, for one, really needed." Cathleen Schine, author of The Three Weissmanns of Westport and The Grammarians

"Elinor Lipman's Ms. Demeanor features a wry and resourceful heroine who reinvents herself as a Tik Tok chef after her career as an attorney is sidelined because of a public indiscretion. Lipman, a master chef of literary romantic comedy, cooks up a deliciously entertaining story whose ingredients include wit, sass, sex, and social satire. Ms. Demeanor is Lipman's fourteenth novel and one of her best" Wally Lamb, author of She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True

"When a neighbor's complaint about consensual al fresco sex turns into house arrest and a suspended legal license, Jane's recipe for survival involves cooking for another home-arrested tenant (could this be a match made in confinement?) while trying to figure out the whys and hows of her mysterious accuser. Filled with food, family, romance and intrigue, Lipman's novel cooks up a bounty of delights as sparkling as prosecco and as deeply satisfying and delicious as a five-star meal." Caroline Leavitt, author of Cruel Beautiful World and With or Without You