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My Latest Grievance Paperback – May 8, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (May 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618872353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618872350
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,494,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Frederica Hatch—the articulate, curious, and naïve narrator of Lipman's eighth novel—proves the perfect vehicle for this satiric yet compassionate family portrait. It's 1976, and psych professors David and Aviva Hatch are honest with their daughter to the point of anatomically correcting Frederica's Barbie dolls. In all their years as a dorm family at a small women's college outside Boston, though, no one mentioned Laura Lee French, David's first wife (and distant cousin). Frederica, now 15 and ready for rebellion, delights in Laura's arrival on campus as a new dorm mother; David and Aviva look on nervously as the two become fast friends. In contrast with Frederica's right-thinking, '60s radical parents, Laura Lee becomes the delicious embodiment of all the moral and psychological complexities of a flawed world beyond campus. Meanwhile, campus itself looks very little like an ivory tower as major scandal brews amid petty gossip. 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. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Elinor Lipman's eighth novel (after The Pursuit of Alice Thrift, **** Sept/Oct 2003) exhibits her trademark social satire, facility with dialogue, and humor. Like her other novels, it addresses themes close to the heart: the bonds between parents and children and between fiction and reality. Covering a few decades, the novel offers a smart, funny protagonist and outlandish, if highly realistic, situations. Yet while the Seattle Times called the novel Lipman's "best work so far" and the Washington Post couldn't praise the author enough, the Chicago Tribune felt that Lipman's wit masked genuine emotion. Only USA Today thought the novel descended into poorly plotted melodrama. The general consensus, however, is that My Latest Grievance is worth a reader's every second.<BR>Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Elinor Lipman is the author of "Tweet Land of Liberty: Irreverent Rhymes from the Political Circus" (Beacon Press, 2012). She is the author of nine novels, including The Inn at Lake Devine, Then She Found Me, and, most recently, The Family Man.

Follow her on Twitter: @elinorlipman.

Photo Copyright Photographer Name: Michael Lionstar, 2012.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Richard L. Goldfarb on July 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was reluctant to write this review, because I'm a huge fan of Lipman's novels and, as I have written elsewhere, think "The Inn at Lake Devine" was one of the best novels of the last decade of the 20th century. Furthermore, I was excited about the premise of this novel, the "Eloise of a women's college" idea.

The plot is thin. Frederica is the child of the Marshalsea (an obvious allusion Lipman misses) for a women's college in Brookline, Mass. Her parents are faculty members who have served as house parents since before she was born; they have no car, and fight the school administration as union activists. Into their lives comes Laura Lee French, who turns out to be David Hatch's ex-wife and cousin, of whose existence Frederica was entirely unaware. Then Laura Lee becomes a house mother on campus, and seduces the new president of the college, causing his wife to attempt suicide and become an invalid. During the great snow of 1978, the plot resolves.

There are good things here. The character of Frederica herself is interesting and charming. The conflict between her labor agitator parents and the anachronistic women's college (formerly a secretarial school) in the late 70's, rings true. So too are the glimpses we see of Frederica's social life, such as it was, at Brookline High School, and the obvious limitations caused by living on a college campus and having parents who don't own a car. The best part of the book was the allegedly democratic way in which Frederica is raised, which is a transparent means by which her parents, and her mother in particular, manipulate her.

The main problem I had with the book was with the engine for the plot, her father's ex-wife and cousin Laura Lee French.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lilly Flora VINE VOICE on April 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a devoted fan of the divine Ms. Elinor Lipman I was a little disappointed with this novel-at first. In the early chapters, which are all background and setting information I thought there was no plot. And in fact, through much of the book, I still thought there was no plot. But then I remembered what I liked about Elinor Lipman.

She tells stories. Real stories like someone would tell to a friend about this crazy/amazing/totally ordinary thing that happened in their life. My first read of hers was Isabel's Bed-which basically has no plot. It's a story-and stories don't need a real plot. They just tell what happens.

So she takes these stories and twists them with an often hilarious narrative point of view. This author does not deserve to be classified as a beach read-she writes real novels. Why is it that ever enjoyable book is stigmatized in some way? I love what Ms. Lipman writes-and no matter what others think I think she deserves awards for it.

The title of the book is not what it seems. Grievance in this setting means a complaint to a union about contractual obligations. In 1978 Frederica Hatch is the 16 year old daughter of two union rabble rising professors-and she's lived her whole life as the campus darling in a dorm apartment. Then, along comes Laura Lee, her father's first, dancing non union, wife-and everything gets stirred up.

This book is a little like a diamond in the rough-it needs some polishing. There are too many chapters that don't advance the story and too many assumptions on behalf of the narrator, some parts are even boring. But other than that this is what Lipman does best-a first person narrative of something that happened to them-told as it would be to a friend.

Four point five stars.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sinead NiC on April 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thought this novel was excellent, keeping me up way too late on several nights that I really shouldn't have stayed up! The story unfolded in a believable way and the characters reminded me of people I know and universities where I lived and studied. Lipman's quick mind shows itself in the things she DOESN'T spell out. In this respect, the dialogue is particularly entertaining. Really wonderful - I hope you like it, too!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kristen VINE VOICE on December 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As someone who has read ALL of Elinor Lipman books, let me just tell the "first timers" out there that you are in for a treat. All of Lipman's books are literary gems, and My Latest Grievance is no exception. Frederica Hatch and her politically correct "before it was cool" parents will delight and entertain even the most jaded readers- perhaps those most of all. Lipman has a real knack for capturing the idiosyncrasies of academia, and this provides limitless opportunities for brilliant satire.

The complications surrounding the Professors Hatch, an ex-wife, and a precocious daughter are a pleasure to read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bearette24 VINE VOICE on September 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book a lot. It's about a precocious, sometimes obnoxious, usually funny 16-year-old girl named Frederica, who's been raised by sensible, union-friendly parents on the campus of fictitious, all-female Dewing College in Massachusetts. Frederica lives in the dorm where her parents are "houseparents" and secretly longs for a more exciting existence.

This wish is granted when Frederica's father's first wife takes a post as houseparent at Dewey. The first wife, an aspiring dancer and fantasist named Laura Lee, immediately stirs things up on campus by holding hands with a priest (the story takes place in 1978) and later, embarking on an affair with the college president. This affair ends up shaking the college to its very foundations.

As usual, Lipman's dialogue is snappy and refreshing, and sometimes takes exertion to follow (like watching the ball at a high-speed tennis match). Sometimes the characters used words most people wouldn't use in everyday conversation (even the characters flagged as low-brow). But that was okay.

My only complaint with the novel was the almost-lightness with which it treated brain damage. I found this a little offensive. Otherwise, I would say this is Elinor Lipman's best book.
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