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The View from Penthouse B Hardcover – April 16, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When meek and mousy middle sister ­Gwen-Laura is suddenly widowed and left with an empty, expensive New York City apartment, her baby sister, Betsy, suggests a win-win solution: move in with their older sister, Margot, freshly and scandalously divorced and burdened with a luxury penthouse she can no longer afford, thanks to Bernie Madoff. As different as chalk and cheese, Gwen and Margot nonetheless become compatible roommates, their differences mitigated by the addition of a third tenant, a cupcake-baking, Lehman Brothers–layoff victim: twentysomething Anthony. As Margot takes to cyberspace to rant about her reversal of fortune in a blog, Gwen reluctantly also turns to the web in an effort to get back into a dating game that has changed dramatically in the 30-plus years she’s been out of circulation. Loosely inspired by events in the author’s own life (I Can’t Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays) popular comedic novelist Lipman’s (The Family Man, 2009) latest evokes the lonely world of the mature, newly single woman with a sweet and comforting touch. --Carol Haggas

Review

"More delicious than my cup of steaming cocoa…tender, funny…The View from Penthouse B sparkles with wit." —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…Lipman's fiction always honors an implicit contract to provide reader satisfaction." —Washington Post

"Sophisticated…Lipman dramatizes Gwen-Laura's dating with her usual tact and dry humor." —Wall Street Journal

"[A] shabby-chic fantasia…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." —The Boston Globe

"A sly comedy of modern manners." —The Miami Herald

"Winning and often wildly funny…This novel, in fact, disappears faster than a red-velvet cupcake, even when you try to read more slowly because the diminishing number of pages means you're unfortunately getting closer to the acknowledgments." —The Seattle Times

"The View from Penthouse B mixes sisters, online dating, and Bernie Madoff's victims into a witty confection." —Parade

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition (April 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547576218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547576213
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #675,353 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
From the first book by Elinor Lipman I read, I was hooked. It's hard to exactly explain why I like her writing so much. At a few points during this book, I was thinking "I can't give this 5 stars like I want to. It's got too many flaws. The plot is meandering, there are too many characters brought in and not fully developed, there isn't enough of a story to merit the length of the book..." and then, upon finishing, I decided that the most important part of a novel is how much you enjoy reading it, and the hours I spent reading this book were happy, content hours.

The basic story---Margot and Gwen-Laura are sisters, who find themselves both alone for very different reasons. Margot's doctor husband is in prison after a scandal, and Gwen was suddenly widowed. They move in together to save money, and take in a third roommate, the affable Anthony. Slowly, they both move to new starts, to figuring out life and romance in the 21st century. There isn't much more plot than that.

But the point of Lipman's book, and others of hers I have read, isn't plot. It's humor and character. The characters are deeply real. They have something most book characters don't have, and I wish I could put my fingers on it a little more. It's a humility, a lack of superhero-ness. They seem to think like I would think, not in the know-it-all way that many book characters seem to think. They are nervous about dating, about intimacy. They have actual money problems. They like to eat out and to talk about the meals. They laugh at themselves. And they are generally just plain likable people. Even the "bad" guys in her books are human, are good at the core. Reading her books makes me feel a little better about the world. I am able to believe that Margot and Gwen and Anthony are actually out there someplace, that I could meet them and I would like to do so. And so, I enjoyed this book immensely.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Susan Johnson VINE VOICE on March 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
3.5 stars
It's hard to start over anytime but it can be quite tricky in your 50's. This is what the two sisters, Margot and Gwen, must do when their lives take a major downturn. They do it with humor, love and mutual self-support. Margot divorces her husband, a doctor, after he is embroiled in a major sex scandal that sends him to prison. To add insult to injury, she loses most of hr money to the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scam. Gwen's husband dies unexpectedly and she can't seem to move on.

Although Margot holds on to her penthouse apartment, the sisters are cash poor and unemployed. They take in a room-mate, Anthony, who brings youth (he's in his 20's), cupcakes and sage male advice. They get into each other's business and are cheerleaders when they all start to take baby steps to rebuilding their lives.

It's wonderful to read about women who are not obsessed with their looks, have a sense of of humor and want something more in life. It drags a little in the middle but is very heart warming too. It's a nice, light read.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jill I. Shtulman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The one thing about picking up an Elinor Lipman novel is, you can be pretty sure what to expect from the get-go.

You know the writing will be confident, breezy, and compulsively readable. You know her characters will be good-hearted, a little on the socially awkward style, and ready for some self-growth. And you know you're going to get absorbed in the narrative and the wit, and really get emotionally invested in the eventual turnout.

So if you're an Elinor Lipman fan, this book is another reason to rejoice. The book centers on Gwen-Laura, a widow of a certain age who has been unable to move on since her husband's unexpected death two years ago. She ends up moving in with her sister Margot, is a victim twice: her husband, an infertility doctor, was sent to the Big House after the discovery that he was "doing the horizontal dance" with his patients...and she also lost most of her savings to Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi scheme.

Add in a few other characters: their third boarder Anthony, a young, gay unemployed charmer who makes to-die-for cupcakes, his sister Olivia, a nanny who has fallen in love with her employer, and a third sister Betsy who dispenses advice from the wings, and there are some great twists and turns ahead.

Far be it from me to spoil any of them! Suffice to say that the novel is surprisingly touching, with much to say about moving forward through grief and bad times, experiencing forgiveness, getting in touch with one's authentic self, and discovering that "family" can mean more than just next-of-kin. And, for anyone who has been through the online dating wars, there are hilarious "tales from the front."

For those who are seeking deeper insights into the characters, you won't find a whole lot of that here. But for those who want a lighthearted story that's deliciously put together and will keep you interested and entertained, this is a book you can sink your teeth into. Definitely recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jane D. Anderson on May 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an easy read. The situations are interesting, the characters amusing, even though it's all predictable. Still, it's fun to sit back and read something that has some easy laughs and isn't very demanding. I would recommend this book if you are over-stressed by your own situations in life and you need to kick back and smile.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Elinor Lipman's "The View from Penthouse B" is a witty and lighthearted story about New Yorkers struggling with romantic, financial, and emotional issues. Margot is a divorcée whose sleazy former husband, Charles, went to prison after inseminating his fertility patients the old-fashioned way. Making matters worse, Margot invested her life savings with Bernie Madoff, leaving her nearly destitute. Still, she lives in the luxurious Batavia, "an Art Deco apartment building on beautiful West Tenth Street in Greenwich Village."

Sharing the apartment with Margot is her sister, Gwen-Laura, a widow whose husband, Edwin, failed to wake up one morning, a month before turning fifty. The duo is joined by a gay and unemployed boarder named Anthony, a handy person to have around, since he bakes, acts as a computer consultant, and dispenses useful all-around advice. To economize, Margot clips coupons, prepares inexpensive dinners, and looks for free sources of entertainment.

The author casts her sympathetic eye on Margot and Gwen-Laura, both of whom are in a rut. Margot remains bitter towards her treacherous ex and, and more than two years after Edwin's death, Gwen-Laura is still in deep mourning, unable to take even a few baby steps forward. Neither woman works outside the home. Margot has a blog with a pathetically small number of visitors. Gwen-Laura comes up with an idea for a group called "Chaste Dates," for men and women "who desired nothing more than companionship." Unsurprisingly, her concept fails to take off.

This occasionally poignant novel offers belly laughs but little genuine insight into the characters' psyches.
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