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The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman
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The Inn at Lake Devine (1998)

by Elinor Lipman

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7072813,366 (3.79)57
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Amazon: “It’s 1962 and all across America barriers are collapsing. But when Natalie Marx’s mother inquires about summer accommodations in Vermont, she gets the following reply: ‘The Inn at Lake Devine is a family-owned resort, which has been in continuous operation since 1922. Our guests who feel most comfortable here, and return year after year, are Gentiles’

For twelve-year-old Natalie, who has a stubborn sense of justice, the words are not a rebuff but an infuriating, irresistible challenge.”

My first Lipman. It’s very ‘pretty’ but a little too predictable.

3½ stars ( )
  ParadisePorch | Jan 6, 2017 |
recommended by a survey of experts/celebrity authors/whatever undertaken by Real Simple; mixed reviews on GR
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
The book was enjoyable enough in the beginning, in following the protagonist as a feisty, spirited child on a mission. But soon enough, the story leapt forward to her adulthood years, approaching racism in a more adult-like approach.
This book read like 2 entirely different stories. The earlier story, set in the 50's and 60's was a great deal of fun to read. America, in those decades, was a wonderful place to be, and ripe with adventures and memories of a time when the country was, itself, going thru changes, much like that of a child going thru adolescence and into adulthood.
The 2nd story takes place in the adult years and is much less satisfying a read. Same characters, 15 years older, and much less interesting and engaging.
I was excited, reading the first few chapters, but soon lost interest, found myself skipping through quickly to ensure that I didnt miss anything that I hadnt already guessed, and simply finishing the book to say I finished it.
I do like the author, and will find a way to pick up more of her books, just to see if she is able or willing to explore that childlike side to her stories again. ( )
  pife43 | Jul 23, 2014 |
http://tinyurl.com/k6yvj8j

I figured I'd simply skim this in preparation for book club, having already read it for an entirely different long-ago book club. It doesn't require skimming - it's light and fluffy enough to read in (literally) two days time. I am glad I read the whole thing through because it affected me differently this time around.

Lipman needs no introduction as the mother (grandmother?) of chick-lit. Her stories have just enough depth to be intriguing, always well speckled with a collection of strange and endearing characters, and requiring less than 30% of your brainpower to consume. They are, in essence, the perfect beach read. I think this book may be the most emblematic of her entire oeuvre. The depth is there - the perennial issue of the treatment of Jews in America - as are the collection of characters - the bigoted mother! the lackadaisical dad (both of them)! the French chef! the kooky crazy so-very-60s Catskills heiress! Lipman's forte is conversation - among all characters, the more the merrier - that isn't stilted so much as direct. Saying she uses simple sentences to get her point across is being too generous. Since she peppers all these conversations with clever witticisms, this is by no means a bad thing altogether.

What is in fact irritating are her quick plot shifts. Shifts that start ridiculously and end by placing her story precisely where she wanted it to be. This has the unfortunate side effect of unveiling her plot structure to be nothing more than a contrivance. And that's a pity, especially with a story clearly coming from a personal remembrance of what would have been a traumatic event for any 13-year-old Jewish girl. It's still a good beach read, but this time around I wanted it to be more than that. ( )
  khage | Jul 29, 2013 |
I liked the booki, but it was missing something and I can't quite put my finger on what. ( )
  EllenH | Jul 14, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Elinor Lipman waltzes fearlessly though a minefield of identity politics. Anti-Semitism, intermarriage, ethnic cuisine and Anne Frank are some of the unlikely, loaded subjects of this witty romantic comedy. Perhaps the glum rabbis who skewered Philip Roth as a self-hating Jew might enjoy Lipman's wry, understated humor. Her touch is light and breezy, more benign stand-up comedy than meanspirited satire.
 
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For my sister, Deborah Lipman Slobodnik,

and in remembrance of William Austin and vacations past
First words
It was not complicated, and, as my mother pointed out, not even personal: They had a hotel; they didn't want Jews; we were Jews.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 037570485X, Paperback)

In the early 1960s, a Massachusetts family suffers a polite awakening. Inquiring about summer openings at a Vermont inn, the Marxes receive a killingly civil response, which ends, "Our guests who feel most comfortable here, and return year after year, are Gentiles." Apparently the Marxes are not quite as ideally average as they thought, at least on the basis of their surname. So begins The Inn at Lake Devine, Elinor Lipman's disarming and very funny exploration of the power of pride and place. Natalie, the youngest Marx daughter, will literally spend years responding to this rebuff. At first she taunts the innkeeper, Ingrid Berry, by phone and mail, stressing by exaggeration that a system which welcomes WASP wife-murderers but not famed convert Elizabeth Taylor is both unfair and inane. In 1964, our Anne Frank adept even goes so far as to send off a copy of the newly minted Civil Rights Act: "Who knew if I'd ever exchange another letter with a documented anti-Semite?" she asks. "Just in case no one ever insulted me again--in this land of religious freedom and ironclad civil rights--I employed the big gun I was saving for future transgressors: 'P.S.,' I typed and underlined: 'In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.'"

The next summer Natalie manages to engineer an invite to Lake Devine, coming in on the coattails of Robin Fife, a good-natured, none-too-swift fellow camper whose family are regulars: "We all wanted to cross the threshold as guests and not visitors, and maybe I, in my early-teen disguise, was best suited to be a spy in the house of Devine. It was our duty to show that we--with the blood of Moses, Queen Esther, Leonard Bernstein, and Sid Caesar coursing through our veins--were the equal of any clientele." But by the end of her stay, Natalie is fed up with the Fifes' relentless good will and Mrs. Berry's covert ill will. All in all, she is relieved to return to firm social ground, and doesn't devote much thought to her "Gentile ambitions" for the next 10 years. A letter about a Camp Minnehaha reunion, however, brings Robin back into the picture, and Natalie is again invited to Lake Devine--this time for her campmate's marriage to the eldest Berry son.

But enough plot summary. The Inn at Lake Devine is full of sweet and sharp surprises that would be churlish to reveal. Lipman offers up sparkling scenes of serious social mischief, explorations of identity, delicious food (though a deadly mushroom lasagna momentarily clouds the picture), and a wedding party or two. All this and a pair of the menschiest WASP brothers in literary history--not to mention phrases such as shnook, shmendrick, and shmegege--make The Inn at Lake Devine the perfect, provocative comedy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:38 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"It's the early 1960s and Natalie Marx is stunned when her mother inquires about vacation accommodations in Vermont and receives a response that says, 'The Inn at Lake Devine is a family-owned resort ... Our guests who feel most comfortable here ... are Gentiles.' ... When Natalie finagles an invitation to join a friend on vacation there, she sets herself upon a path that will inextricably link her adult life to this particular family and their once-restricted hotel"--Front flap.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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