THE FAMILY MAN by Elinor Lipman


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Lipman (My Latest Grievance, 2006, etc.) returns with the story of a retired, gay New York lawyer who finds himself happily embroiled with his ex-wife’s now adult daughter.

Back when he was still in the closet, Henry married Denise and adopted her daughter Thalia from her first marriage. He adored Thalia, but after two years, when Denise left Henry for another man, Henry lost parental rights. Twenty-four years later Denise’s third husband has died and his sons from a previous marriage are getting almost everything, so Denise turns to Henry for legal help. At Denise’s apartment Henry sees a picture of Thalia, from whom Denise is currently estranged—a little brouhaha at the funeral—and realizes Thalia works as a receptionist at his barbershop. Soon they are lunching and bonding to make up for lost years. Before long Thalia moves into his brownstone’s basement apartment. An aspiring actress, Thalia takes a job pretending to be horror-movie actor Leif Dumont’s girlfriend to make him more palatable to the public as romantic lead material, and Henry helps her negotiate her contract despite misgivings over the risks and ramifications entailed. Thalia and Leif’s phony romance proceeds, although Thalia is seeing at least one other guy and Leif claims he is secretly involved with the president of the Beverly Hills High School abstinence club. Meanwhile, Denise, who is overbearing but almost likable for her lack of pretension, sets Henry up on a blind date with Todd. It is love at first sight, but Todd lives with his mother and has not told her he is gay. Along the way, Henry helps Denise’s stepsons see the light and Thalia reveals big news.

Another romantic comedy from the always clever Lipman.

Pub Date: May 5th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-618-64466-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2009


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