My Latest Grievance
By Elinor Lipman
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618644650, 256pp.)
Publication Date: April 2006
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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 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. 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.
ELINOR LIPMAN is the author of eight previous novels, including The Inn at Lake Devine, and My Latest Grievance, winner of the Paterson Fiction Prize. In 2001 she won the New England Book Award for Fiction. The film Then She Found Me, directed by and starring Helen Hunt, is based on her first novel.
- The book is narrated by the adult Frederica Hatch as she looks back at a tumultuous teenage year. Does the author make the combined sensibility — age sixteen viewed through the eyes of the narrator's present self — work?
Completely irresistible. Expect high demand for this novel and renewed interest in Lipman's previous seven. Highly recommended.
Library Journal Starred
A novel of warmth, wisdom, love, and redemption that is funny and fun to read.
Up there at the top is where this enchanting, infinitely witty yet serious, exceptionally intelligent, wholly original and Austen-like stylist belongs.
The Washington Post
Lovable, psychologically intricate... Bittersweet farce.
The New York Times Book Review
May be Lipman's best work so far... Every page offers laugh-out-loud dialogue...So entertaining you're sorry to see it end.
The Seattle Times
This is not-to-be-missed reading.