Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Ladies' Man

by Elinor Lipman
Finished June 2010

Here's an Elinor Lipman book that I didn't like that much. Lipman's worst book is still a good book, but compared to the rest, this one wasn't nearly as enjoyable. It must have been the characters, none of which were particularly likeable to me. The title character, instead of being one of the charmingly exasperating characters she does so well, is exasperatingly irritating. He's a despicable cad and a boor, the kind of man people call a "ladies' man" only to be polite.

His name is Nash Harvey. When he was a younger man and known by his original name, Harvey Nash, he left town while his intented was waiting for him to arrive at their engagment party. She - Adele Dobbin - never forgave him and never entered into a relationship again. Suddenly, after twenty some odd years he shows back up on her doorstep after abruptly leaving another relationship in California. What he finds is Adele and her two unmarried sisters sharing an apartment. Adele's brother serves as mediator between Adele and Harvey (uh, Nash). Adele's middle sister, Lois, thinks that Nash (Harvey?) has returned for her. Kathleen, the youngest and most likeable character, has fallen for the nice doorman in the apartment where she owns a lingerie shop called "The Other Woman."

Everyone in this book seems to be dealing with a life of dissapointment. They are searching for happiness and struggling with the notion that simply settling for a life without unhappiness is the best they can hope for.

The title of this book refers specifically to Nash Harvey, but in a broader way could refer to each of the male characters. Each one relates to women in a different way - fearful, indifferent, shy, bold. Each wants a different thing - love, companionship, a place to live, a fling.

I think this was a good book and could generate a lot of thought for the reader. It might be a good book for a discussion group. But it left me unsatisfied. Luckily, I've moved on to a delightful Elinor Lipman book which I'll write about soon.

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