Thursday, May 16, 2013

The View from Penthouse B by Elinor Lipman

The blurb:
Unexpectedly widowed Gwen-Laura Consadine is still mourning her husband Edwin when her older sister Margot invites her to join forces as roommates in Margot's luxurious Village apartment.  For Margot, divorced amid scandal (hint: her husband was a fertility doctor), and then made Ponzi-poor, it's a chance to shake Gwen out of her grief and help make ends meet.  To further the effort she enlists a third boarder, the handsome, cupcake-baking Anthony.

As the three swap money-making schemes and a timid Gwen ventures back out into the dating world, the arrival of Margot's paroled ex in the efficiency apartment downstairs creates not just complications but the chance for all sorts of unexpected forgiveness.  A sister story about love, lonelness, and a new life in middle age, this is a cracklingly witty, deeply sweet novel from one of our finest comedic writers.

I received The View from Penthouse B through the Amazon Vine Reviewers program. I hadn't read any of Elinor Lipman's earlier books and hadn't realized just how funny her writing can be.  I started the book a few days ago, read it while traveling to Boston for a work emergency, and throughout the night once I got to Boston.  I mention this just to emphasize that it drew me in and provided a wonderful escape!

I loved the voice of the main character, the middle sister, Gwen-Laura Comadine.  She's the newly widowed sister who had married a high school teacher and is unable/unwilling to move on.  Her entrepreneurial idea is a platonic dating service.  

Her older sister Margot is another lovable character. The divorced wife of the disgraced fertility doctor invested her divorce settlement with Madoff.  Margot's project is a website dedicated to Madoff victims that serves as a place to vent about the abuses of white collar thieves.  Margot is defined by her strong emotions, sense of humor and charm.  She opens up her home and heart - not just to her sister but to Anthony, a helpful and witty young gay man.  

The book is memorable because of the characters. The View from Penthouse B is witty, lighthearted, and fun. I highly recommend it!

ISBN-10: 0547576218- Hardcover $26
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 16, 2013), 272 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Reviewers Program.

About the Author:
Elinor Lipman is the author of ten novels, including The Inn at Lake Devine, and two works of nonfiction,  I Can't Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays and Tweet Land of Liberty: Irreverent Rhymes from the Political Circus.  She lives in New York City.

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