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The Dearly Departed (2001)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375724583, Paperback)When amateur actress Margaret Batten and her lover Miles Finn are found dead in Margaret's ramshackle gray bungalow, all of King George, New Hampshire, is abuzz. Is it foul play? (No, carbon monoxide poisoning.) Were they engaged? (Yes, if you believe the cleaning lady.) And why do Margaret's daughter Sunny and Miles's son Fletcher have the same kind of wispy, shiny, prematurely gray hair? (They're brother and sister, or so suggests Fletcher, annoyingly and at length.) Meeting one's possible half brother for the first time is jolting enough. But for Sunny Batten, the shock is compounded by finding out that her shy, sweet-faced mother was evidently not the "little mouse"--or even the "late bloomer"--Sunny had always assumed her to be. In other words, when the eulogists praise Margaret's vaunted generosity and her "open door," they aren't necessarily talking about the time she asked the Girl Scouts in for lemonade.
But then King George is full of surprises. Home for the first time since high school, Sunny finds herself reassessing the place. She has ample reason to regret her teenage years--she was poor, had no father, was the only girl on the golf team, found a dead carp in her golf bag one time. But how far can a grudge take you in life? Can we ever really know the truth about our parents? What state of mind does it take to shoot par? Lipman addresses such questions with her customary lighthearted touch, sketching out her ensemble cast with rapid and comical strokes. Witness, for example, anorexic congressional candidate Emily Ann Grandjean's most characteristic tic: "constant sips from a large bottle of brand-name water, then the ceremonial screwing of its cap back on once, twice, full-body twists as if volatile and poisonous gases would escape without her intervention." In the end, all loose ends are neatly tied up and all single characters are suitably paired--in other words, the author once again produces the kind of visceral satisfaction readers associate with her work. It's hard not to devour an Elinor Lipman novel in one sitting; put this one away for a time when you won't have to put it down. --Mary Park
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:37 -0400)
A woman returns to her home town for her mother's funeral, only to discover a lost brother.
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