The Family Man
By Elinor Lipman
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618644667, 320pp.)
Publication Date: May 2009
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A hysterical phone call from Henry Archer’s ex-wife and a familiar face in a photograph upend his well-ordered life and bring him back into contact with the child he adored, a short-term stepdaughter from a misbegotten marriage long ago. Henry is a lawyer, an old-fashioned man, gay, successful, lonely. Thalia is now 28, an actress-hopeful, estranged from her newly widowed crackpot mother -- Denise, Henry’s ex. Hoping it will lead to better things for her career, Thalia agrees to pose as the girlfriend of a former child star and current horror-movie luminary who is down on his romantic luck. When Thalia and her complicated social life move into the basement of Henry’s Upper West Side townhouse, she finds a champion in her long-lost father, and he finds new life -- and maybe even new love -- in the commotion.
ELINOR LIPMAN is the author of ten 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.
- Consider the novel’s title. What does it take to be a good family man? Is DNA irrelevant in parenting? What makes Henry and Thalia an ideal father-daughter team?