by Elinor Lipman
finished July 14, 2010
This is more like it. The last Elinor Lipman book I read was The Ladies' Man, which was a pretty unpleasant book. The Family Man was delightful and fun to read. The characters were all enjoyable (unlike the other book). You can even sympathize with the character you're supposed to like the least.
The family man is Henry Archer who, at the beginning of the book, is not much of a family man at all. He did share his townhome with his mother, Williebelle, but that was the extent of his family.
It could have been different. He had been married to Denise. But they divorced because she left him for another man. He tried to have shared custody with Denise's young daughter Thalia, but the new stepfather would not allow it. He considered Henry's newly realized lifestyle (gay) to be unsuitable for Thalia.
Henry spent years dealing with his anger and dissapointment. So it's surprising when he decides to write to Denise after twenty four years. Her husband has just died and Henry, always doing the right and the kind thing, sends a note of condolence. Denise writes back and that's where this book begins.
Suddenly, Henry is a family man. He reconnects with Thalia, whom he has always considered to be his daughter. She is a delightful young woman who comes to adore Henry. She moves in to the maissonette (basement apartment) of Henry's townhome. Thanks to Denise, Henry also meets Todd who brings new life and joy to his life.
Thalia and Denise are estranged, but are so much alike. Their impulsivity drives the plot and makes for some wonderfuly funny situations.
I loved this book. It's funny and full of Elinor Lipman's great characters.