Elinor Lipman is the author of The Dearly Departed, The Ladies' Man, The Inn at Lake Devine, Isabel's Bed, The Way Men Act, Then She Found Me, and Into Love and Out Again. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, Gourmet, Salon, Self, More, and Yankee Magazine. She has taught writing at Simmons, Hampshire, and Smith colleges, and won the 2001 New England Book Award for fiction. She lives in Massachusetts.
Snappy wit, a clever plot and the sheer fun of a book you can't put down await readers of Lipman's (The Inn at Lake Divine) eighth novel, surely her best to date. The eponymous Alice is a sleep-deprived surgical intern at a Boston hospital. A graduate of MIT and Harvard and a congenital workaholic, she's also devoid of social skills, a sense of humor or elementary tact. Though miserably unequipped with self-esteem, Alice is an intelligent, well-brought-up offspring of upper-middle-class parents. Why, then, does she fall prey to the romantic blandishments of Ray Russo, a vulgar loudmouth and con artist who-it turns out-lies every time he opens his mouth? That Lipman can make this story plausible, and tell it with humor, psychological insight and rising suspense, is a triumph. Despite her roommate Leo's description of Ray as " a slimeball who won't take no for an answer," Alice fails to see through her conniving beau because she's achingly lonely and because he remains devoted when she's put on probation for falling asleep while assisting in the OR. It's easy for her to dismiss the concern of family and friends as simple snobbery-which, in some cases, it is. Lipman's knowledge of hospital routine, especially the bone-weary lives of interns and residents, is a major reason that the plot moves along as smoothly as if on ball bearings. The dozen or so supporting characters, from Alice's horrified parents to her good friends and fellow residents, are vividly three-dimensional. Lipman's eye for social pretense has never been so keen-or so cruel. There's a dark moral here-that class differences cannot be breached-but readers will appreciate the candor. Agent, Virginia Barber. Author tour. (June) Forecast: If ever a novel can be lifted intact from page to silver screen, this is one. From the leads to the character parts, there are juicy roles for Hollywood's best. Look for a PW interview in the spring. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Surgical intern Alice Thrift is, by her own admission, a wallflower. Her mother prefers to think of her as socially autistic. But no man-or woman-is an island, and before Alice knows it, her male roommate, a neighbor, and a kindly doctor begin to drag her from her lifelong, self-inflicted emotional exile. Although this social misfit starts to bond with her new friends, her courtship by a traveling fudge salesman leaves her completely bewildered. At first, Alice comes off as an unsympathetic character, but the more she tries to deal with the world as a detached, clinical observer (and the more she fails), the more sympathetic she becomes. Told in the first person, Lipman's seventh novel (after The Dearly Departed) is both funny and poignant, and it is appropriate for most fiction collections in libraries of all sizes. Lipman fans and readers who enjoy the television series Scrubs will go for this similarly offbeat novel about the quirkiness of the medical world. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/03.]-Shelley Mosley, Glendale P.L., AZ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"Simply, wonderfully, memorably human and therefore complicated and
compelling. . . . A total treat." -USA Today
"A witty, satirical novel rich in wry, observant narrative reminiscent of Jane Austen's deceptively benign satiric genius." -San Francisco Chronicle
"The most perfect piece of prose writing to come along in quite a while." -Philadelphia Weekly
"The literary equivalent of lemon souffle, light, tart and delicious." -Detroit Free Press