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My Latest Grievance: A Novelby Elinor Lipman
"It does not matter if I've told you how the book ends; the delights of the journey are everything. Elinor Lipman seems to find difficulty in taking herself seriously, but I think this is superstition — the better to turn away the wrath of the Gods of Literature, who might strike her down in envy if she catches their eye." Fay Weldon, The Washington Post Book World (read the entire Washington Post Book World review)
Synopses & Reviews
"Almost nobody writes serious entertainment with more panache than Elinor Lipman," wrote the Chicago Tribune. From her debut novel, Then She Found Me, which in the words of the Washington Post revived the art of screwball comedy for the newly dawned nineties," to her most recent, best-selling The Pursuit of Alice Thrift, which the Philadelphia Weekly hailed as "the most perfect piece of prose writing to come along in quite a while," Elinor Lipman has set the gold standard by which other comic novelists are judged.
Now her pitch-perfect new novel, set in 1978, introduces us to the beguiling Frederica Hatch. Born and raised in the dormitory of a small womens college, and chafing under the care of the most annoyingly evenhanded parental team in the history of civilization, Frederica is starting to feel that her life is stiflingly snug. "I had no intention of blending in. I wanted to be who I'd become, the Eloise of Dewing College, the full-time residential expert in an institution that others occupied only fleetingly."
Into this cozy world comes Miss Laura Lee French — a wannabe former Rockette and the new dorm mother at the college where Frederica's parents teach and live. Laura Lee proves to be the enthralling and glamorous antithesis of the Hatches, whose passion for liberal political causes is all-consuming — even Frederica's Barbie dolls have been anatomically corrected. As Frederica says, "The timing was excellent....Just as I was craving more attention, along came Laura Lee French, dorm mother without a day job, single, childless, and ultimately famous within our gates."
"Like an inspired alchemist" (New York Times Book Review), Lipman turns this seemingly routine faculty hire into a catalyst for havoc and hilarity. For it happens that Miss French — in the distant past — was married to none other than Frederica's earnest and distinctly unglamorous father.
As in her previous novels, Lipman writes "in a delicious style that is both funny and elegant" (USA Today), rendering serious subjects "through a lens of humor and hope" (Boston Globe). The results? Vintage Elinor Lipman — delightful, memorable, and touching.
"[A] novel of warmth, wisdom, love, and redemption that is funny and fun to read....Lipman skillfully matches the cadence of Frederica's growing up with the developments of the story to create moments to cherish and characters to adore." Booklist
"Completely irresistible. Expect high demand for this novel and renewed interest in Lipman's previous seven. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"May be Lipman's best work so far....
"Lipman's dialogue is consistently mirthful, her entire book filled with witty, quotable bons mots....Lipman is a fizzy writer, but her fizz is tempered with genuine emotion, and her marvelously funny stories take place in a world recognizably our own." Boston Globe
"Unfortunately, this literary soufflé fails to rise. Lipman makes every effort. But the ingredients do not blend together....There are the usual laugh-out-loud descriptions and clever moments, but this was the first Lipman novel I was relieved, not grieved, to close." USA Today
"Fans of Lipman's previous seven novels will recognize her remarkable facility with dialogue, her light-as-air prose and her breezy ability to land a good crack....While readers may well be entertained, they're not likely to be moved, which is a shame..." Chicago Tribune
My Latest Grievance stars the beguiling teenager Frederica Hatch, the "Eloise of Dewing College." Born and raised in the dormitory of this small women's college and chafing under the care of "the most annoyingly evenhanded parental team in the history of civilization," Frederica is starting to feel that her life is stiflingly snug. That all changes with the arrival on campus of a new dorm mother, the glamorous Laura Lee French, the frenetic center of her own universe.
About the Author
Elinor Lipman is the author of seven previous novels, including The Pursuit of Alice Thrift, The Inn at Lake Devine, Isabel's Bed, and Then She Found Me. Four of her novels have been optioned for film, and this fall production begins on Then She Found Me, written and directed by and starring Helen Hunt. Lipman is a columnist for the Boston Globe Magazine and has taught writing at Simmons, Hampshire, and Smith colleges. In 2001, she won the New England Booksellers Award for fiction.
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