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The Family Man Hardcover – May 5, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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. (May)
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From Bookmarks Magazine

Most of Elinor Lipman’s novels hinge on complicated wisps of plots, but their comedic lightness rarely detracts from their enjoyment. Reviewers agree that perhaps the best elements in a new Lipman novel are the characters—heartfelt, civilized, completely engaging, and never less than fully human. The Family Man, set in Manhattan rather than Lipman’s usual haunting grounds of New England, doesn’t disappoint in its portrayal of complex family relationships and use of exquisite language. Only the Boston Globe suggested that readers unwilling to suspend disbelief may find the book too fairy tale for their tastes. The Washington Post, however, summed up general sentiment: “Just because something is ‘light’ doesn’t mean it’s not masterful.”
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition (May 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618644660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618644667
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,428,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

She has a wonderful flow in her writing style.
Persis Ensor
Hilarious, sweet, and just plain fun to read, I didn't want to put this book down.
A Reynolds
Her secondary characters are written as brilliantly as her main characters.
Jill Meyer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Elinor Lipman's latest is another in a long line of great comedy-of-manner novels she's written. Maybe not quite as good as Lake Divine and Dearly Departed, but almost at that level.

There's something unique in Lipman's writing that I've tried to figure out in all ten of her novels. Her secondary characters are written as brilliantly as her main characters. I don't know how she does it - I guess that's why I'm a reader and not a writer - but maybe it's her wonderful dialogue. I'm left after reading her novels with the - unacted on, of course - urge to call her and ask her to write another novel, using the same characters, taking the storyline further. As all her novels are "stand-alones", it's clear she considers each one finished at the end.

She is a worthy successor to the late Laurie Colwin.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In Elinor Lipman's "The Family Man," Henry Archer is a recently retired and unattached attorney who happens to be gay. Henry has a shallow, self-centered, and grating ex-wife, Denise, whose third husband, Glenn Krouch, recently passed away at the age of seventy. All of a sudden, Denise tries to weasel her way back into Henry's good graces. She seeks free legal advice, since Krouch's two sons from a former marriage have inherited pretty much everything from their late father. Denise gets a monthly allowance, monitored by the older son and executor, Glenn Junior. It seems that her stepsons are holding her to a prenuptial agreement, "a hideously airtight legal document," that may even force her to leave her ten room apartment on Park Avenue in New York City.

Henry has no desire to become his ex-wife's buddy or knight in shining armor. When he visits Denise, however, he notices photos of Thalia, his stepdaughter whom he hasn't seen since she was a little girl. Much to his shock, he realizes that Thalia works in the salon where he has his hair cut. Henry decides to reacquaint himself with this now lovely twenty-nine year old woman, who is an aspiring actress and a delightful human being. They soon become fast friends, and Henry does his utmost to make up for the decades during which he and Thalia were separated.

Elinor Lipman is the undisputed queen of the contemporary comedy of manners, and once again, she serves up a frothy and witty soufflé with farcical overtones, a somewhat silly and lightweight plot, romantic entanglements, and amusing banter. The author never takes her subject matter too seriously. Instead, she has fun getting her offbeat cast of characters into and out of outlandish situations.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Lilly Flora VINE VOICE on December 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ever since my days of only reading books with pastel covers and subsequent introduction to Isabel's Bed I have been a die hard Elinor Lipman fan. I've read everything she's published, own them all and love them all. I can very safely say she's never written a book-much less a chapter-that I didn't like.

When I started "The Family Man" though I thought that was all about to change. Lipman's normal writing style is very descriptive-lots of explained body language written into the text and historical background on characters and tons of detail about clothing, food and architecture. When you add in her slightly soap opera-ish plots with all of their melodrama and black humor you get these perfect, fun books with fast paced plots that aren't too serious and oodles of characters to fall in love with.

But Lipman's latest book is different. For one thing, "The Family Man" is about ninety percent witty dialog (all well written) with very sparse descriptions of anything-including the characters emotions. And then there's the plot-the reuniting of retired gay lawyer Henry Archer with his once upon a time adopted daughter Thalia after her second adopted father's death 24 years after he gave up a custody battle that had him painted as unfit because of his sexuality-and the subsequent changes in his love life and general happiness and interest level afterward. I know it sounds complicated but it's really, really not. This is a very simple book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephen T. Hopkins VINE VOICE on June 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If Elinor Lipman's new novel, The Family Man, were a movie, you'd come out of the theater at the end with a smile on your face, and sated from an extra large tub of popcorn. Protagonist Henry Archer is a recently retired gay attorney living alone in a prime Manhattan townhouse. After Henry consoles his divorced wife Denise following the death of the man she left Henry to marry, he reconnects with his stepdaughter Thalia who has been out of his life for many years. The comedic exploits of these characters and a broad supporting cast made me care about them and what happened in their lives. That's perfect summer reading if you're looking to read a light-hearted novel. While life in Manhattan doesn't match the experience of an average American, the characters in The Family Man are recognizable in every community, the plot is playful, and most readers will find pleasure from reading this novel.

Rating: Three-star (Recommended)
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