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Isabel's Bed by Elinor Lipman
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Isabel's Bed (edition 1998)

by Elinor Lipman (Author)

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5091134,730 (3.54)28
A budding writer, Harriet Mahoney, is hired by a socialite to ghost write her biography. The socialite, Isabel Krug, was in bed with her lover when his wife appeared, gun in hand. Now Isabel wants the world to know her side of the story. Harriet moves into Isabel's huge mansion and the novel chronicles their amusing relationship. By the author of The Way Men Act.… (more)
Member:hanina2
Title:Isabel's Bed
Authors:Elinor Lipman (Author)
Info:Washington Square Press (1998), Edition: Reprint, 400 pages
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Isabel's Bed by Elinor Lipman

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
"Isabel's Bed" is a gentle, amusing, charter-driven read, filled with kindness and comedy that lifted my spirits. It deals honestly but sympathetically with story of Harriet Mahone, a wannabe writer running for cover from a recently failed twelve year relationship with a man she now sees has always been a jerk.

Although the story is told from Harriet's point of view, she is one of the most ordinary and most passive characters in a novel which is dominated by colourful, larger than life people. Yet Harriet does not fade into the background or become just a cypher for observing more interesting people. In a way, the whole book is about her building a more solid understanding of herself and acting upon it-

Harriet takes refuge with Isabel, a woman who's notoriety Harriet is unaware of when she agrees to ghost write her autobiography in exchange for living in Isabel's house for a year.

Isabel is funny and smart and totally overwhelming. The dialogue in the scenes she's in sparkles. I found her extraordinary and yet completely convincing. She is a woman who takes charge of her life and lives by her own rules. She is Harriet's opposite and so finds Harriet novel and intriguing. The friendship that builds between the two woman is drawn with a light touch that gives it credibility and emotional value.

Hattie has a a low simmer, never quite getting to the boil, relationship with Isabel's handy-man/driver which manages to avoid rom-com clichés and serves mostly to help Harriet understand what had been missing in her previous twelve-year-too-long relationship.

I enjoyed the sideways glance into writers and writing that the novel provides. Harriet writes to escape from her life. Being a writer is a transformational fantasy for her. We see that it is not the writing itself that motivates Harriet but the opportunity to been seen as a writer in her local writers' group which sustains her dream by listening with attention and providing encouraging feedback.

Harriet is competent rather than talented at writing. Her first draft of the autobiography is so bland and dull and so NOT Isabel, the Isabel has a go at re-writing the piece "to make it sound more like me". Isabel is a natural raconteur and produces an opening to the the autobiography that is witty, energetic and gives a strong sense of her personality. The contrast between the two pieces is the start of Harriet coming to understand that writing might not be her route to personal fulfillment

The ending of the novel made me smile. It was unexpected yet realistic. One of those things that makes everything click into place so that you say, "that's so true and obvious. How did I not see that coming?" ( )
  MikeFinnFiction | May 16, 2020 |
Harriet Mahoney gave twelve years of her life to a man who just left her to marry a woman he's only known for a few months. Adding insult to injury, he kicks Harriet out of the house she has shared with him as his common law wife for all those years. Dejected but determined to land on her feet, (without her parents's help...she is over forty, after all) Harriet takes a job in the seaside town of Truro, Cape Cod to ghost write Isabel Krug's tabloid story. Everyone knows Isabel was the femme fatale using a vibrator in a married man's bed when the guy's wife stormed in and shot him dead. The trial was a sensation but Isabel wants the world to know her side of the story and because she isn't shy, so much more. Harriet is in for the ride of her life working with feisty Isabel...until the not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity widow comes knocking. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Oct 23, 2019 |
After being dumped by her boyfriend of 12 years, Harriet finds a job as a ghostwriter for Isabel Krug, former New York socialite living in Cape Cod after her lover's husband kills him. She plans a "tell all" and has Harriet come work and live with her, but perhaps more than a ghostwriter she really wants a friend. Meanwhile, Harriet wants to get started in a career as a writer and sees this as a stepping stone, hoping to have the time to work on her novel as well.

I enjoy Elinor Lipman's quirky characters and sense of humor, and this book was a great example of both. It took me a little while to warm up to both Isabel and Harriet, though the side characters are great - the ex-boyfriend is the type you love to hate, for example. The whole situation is completely over-the-top and unbelievable, but I enjoyed the ride all the same. ( )
  bell7 | Jul 15, 2015 |
Interesting read. Harriet has been working on her novel - and now her boyfriend of 12 years has broken up with her AND tossed her out of their apartment. She replies to an ad for a ghostwriter and the fun begins.
  wareagle78 | Apr 3, 2014 |
In this book Isabel, was in the wrong place at the wrong time and has decided to write a book about it. Not knowing the first thing about writing she hires a ghost writer. The lives of all of the charterers intertwine in a weird set of events that lead everyone to find themselves a different place in their lives then where they started out. If you are the kind of person who reads the first ten pages of a book to see if they will like it or not then this book is defiantly not for you. The first chapter or two of this book are very boring and poorly written but like in the book itself the author finds their grove and it is well worth the read. I love the interaction between the characters and the personal growth that they all go through. I would recommend this book if you like, Chick Lit, romance or a bit of fun read when you have nothing better to do. I found this book in the trash. ( )
  sallyawolf | Feb 25, 2013 |
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Epigraph
How much better it seems now/than when it is finally written. --Dana Gioia, "The Next Poem"
Dedication
This book is dedicated to my first editor, Stacy Schiff--enduring reader and remarkable friend.
First words
Winter before last, a tea-leaf reader at a psychic fair looked into my cup and said she saw me living in a house with many beds and a big-mouth blonde.
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A budding writer, Harriet Mahoney, is hired by a socialite to ghost write her biography. The socialite, Isabel Krug, was in bed with her lover when his wife appeared, gun in hand. Now Isabel wants the world to know her side of the story. Harriet moves into Isabel's huge mansion and the novel chronicles their amusing relationship. By the author of The Way Men Act.

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