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The Way Men Act by Elinor Lipman

The Way Men Act (1992)

by Elinor Lipman

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Lipman is a little bit like a modern Austen. On the surface it looks like chick-lit but when you look deeper there are all sorts of social messages, constructs that play a huge role, etc. Her writing is much more impressive than in your typical boy-meets-girl novel; it has a strong literary quality and all of her books that I've read have been a great read. ( )
  GraceZ | Sep 6, 2014 |
This is one of Lipman's first novels, and (quite reasonably) not her best. It's follows the course of one 30-year-old woman's dating efforts after returning to her home town. She's smart, in-your-face, and defensive about never going to college.
You know how in the typical romance or comedy sitcom plot, much of the action is based on a simple misunderstanding, and if a few characters would just TALK to each other, it would all be worked out in no time? She actually has someone grab two people by their ears and make that happen in this book, and I quite loved her for it.
  mulliner | Sep 26, 2010 |
I don't read so-called "chick lit". The name of the genre is in itself insulting to me. It seems to say: "this book is so sappy, so full of unrealistic romantic crap and so devoid of substance that only women - or, to be more accurate, 'chicks' - could buy into it." I just hate this picture in my head of otherwise intelligent women across the world sitting in beds, on benches, or on buses reading fluff after fluff after fluff - like they're not capable of reading anything more challenging than a romance, and if it doesn't have a happy-ending they will stay far away from it. That's the snobbish me, the one who wrote that scathing review of Twilight a month ago. Then, on the other hand, I've been also known to watch Grey's Anatomy sometimes - and I figured surely even the worst chick lit cannot compete in awfulness with this season of GA. So I decided to give it a try. I picked "The Way Men Act" because the blurbs made Lipman out to be something more than just a Danielle Steel or another Stephenie Meyer. They said things like "The confidence of Elinor Lipman's writing, her humour and her brilliant ear for dialogue put her in a different league." or "Part of the joy of this wise and charming novel is in the writing. The rest is in the thinking - smart, offbeat, funny." or even "Like a particularly good episode of Friends crossed with the ER, but the elegance of her prose and her wisdom concerning the human heart elevate it to serious literature." It turns out, the blurbs were not that far away from the truth. Certainly this was a book made of real people: people that you've met at some point in your life, that you will easily recognize and, not least, that you will be glad to see ridiculed. A book where conversations sound natural, words of advice ring true, monologues are insightful and often funny - delivered though they are by a somewhat-annoying protagonist. (Melinda: something of a loser and your typical "cheerleader" type who is very popular but insecure deep down. Though she is sure she can sleep with anyone in town she never even suspects that the man she loves has feelings for her blah blah blah we've heard it all before) Yes, the ending is predictable and I probably won't even remember reading this book two years from now but, hey, I finished it in two sittings and I got some good one-liners out of it. That has to count for something, right?

Quote: "I had this boyfriend, Seth, for four years in California. He supposedly loved me, and his friends thought I was a breath of fresh air, which is what the graduate-level educated (cell biology, U.C. San Diego) say about the high-school educated if the latter is pretty and the former wish they were sleeping with her, too." ( )
2 vote girlunderglass | May 13, 2009 |
I have just re-read this book from Elinor Lipman, as a previous reviewer mentions it is not her best book, I think this is Inn at Lake Devine, but I also love The Ladies Man and Isabels Bed.

The book, written from Melinda's point of view traces her new life back in her hometown Harrow after living in California. Melinda works as a florist at her cousins shop and her friends Libby and Dennis own the shops either side of her.

It traces her love life with men that she is attracted too and stories about her ex-boyfriends. I think the problem is that I'm not sure that the author really likes Melinda, (I don't think I did either) and I don't think she is very clear as a character. The first 150 pages seem sluggish and things only really get going when her Mother is brought into the plot.

I wouldn't start wit this book as it might put you off a great author who has written some great books. Start with the others and read this as if you want to complete all her books. ( )
  withwill | Mar 23, 2009 |
This is an early work by prolific writer Lipman, and those who have read more of her books say that even though it’s fine, it’s not her best. That would be The Inn at Lake Devine, or The Pursuit of Alice Thrift depending on whom you’re talking to. Nonetheless, The Way Men Act is still an entertaining look at relationships, friendship, and small town life, with a little racial and sexual tension thrown in for good measure. This story of an underachieving thirty-something woman who returns to her home town (her mother’s house in fact) to design flower arrangements for her petty and untalented cousin and his compulsive wife, doesn’t actually cover new relationship territory, but, perhaps Lipman’s biggest achievement is creating dialog that sound so natural and unaffected and describing action that never seems contrived as Melinda works hard to get out of her own way when it comes to relationships. What was once easy and uncomplicated for Melinda when she was the cheerleading queen of the prom -- meeting, greeting and sleeping with men with no detrimental aftereffects – isn’t so easy anymore. As Melinda tries to figure out the difference between love and attraction, friendship and jealousy, she bumps up against Denis and Libby, old high school acquaintances; Martha and Iris, professors at the town’s snooty college; Conrad, the too-cool-for-words revolving one night stand musician; and she even becomes a catalyst for her mother’s turn at examining her own stilted relationship. There’s a bit of humor, some unexpected scenes and some interested psychology in this relationship novel. ( )
1 vote stonelaura | Jul 5, 2008 |
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For my mother
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The shops stand three across: mine in the middle, Dennis Vaughan's to my left and Libby Getchel's to my right, fronting on Main Street in Harrow, Massachusetts.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0671748416, Paperback)

After trying out her adult wings in California, Melinda LeBlanc has come home to work for her cousin arranging flowers. Out of place and outdated, she befriends Libby, who designs strange dresses in the shop next door, and Dennis Vaughan, a native son and very attractive black man who owns the hip Brookhoppers, a fly fisherman's paradise. Libby aims to marry Dennis. Melinda tries to keep her dignity as an un-degreed lonely woman in a college town. And Dennis wants--what? Lipman is a modern-day Jane Austen and her characters crackle with wit and intelligence.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:40 -0400)

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One-time popular and eye-catching Melinda LeBlanc finds her world as a successful florist is not enough.

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