Elinor Lipman

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Ms. Demeanor, a novel

The View from Penthouse B

  • 2013 (Hardcover), 2014 (Paperback)
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Mariner Books
  • Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, iBook, Audio

Unexpectedly widowed Gwen-Laura Schmidt is still mourning her husband, Edwin, when her older sister Margot invites her to join forces as roommates in Margot's luxurious Village apartment.

For Margot, divorced amid scandal (hint: her husband was a fertility doctor) and then made Ponzi-poor, it's a chance to shake Gwen out of her grief and help make ends meet. To further this effort she enlists a third boarder, the handsome, cupcake-baking Anthony.

As the three swap money-making schemes and timid Gwen ventures back out into the dating world, the arrival of Margot's paroled ex in the efficiency apartment downstairs creates not just complications but the chance for all sorts of unexpected forgiveness. A sister story about love, loneliness, and new life in middle age, this is a cracklingly witty, deeply sweet novel from one of our finest comic writers.

Reviews and praise

"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