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The Family Man by Elinor Lipman

The Family Man (2009)

by Elinor Lipman

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4704122,028 (3.65)23

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Delicious, but not enough Denise. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Please indulge me by allowing me to write this review as if it was the delightful film I so wish it could be.

Single gay bachelor Henry Archer (George Clooney – channeling a mix of legal eagle Michael Clayton and the hapless cuckold of “The Descendants”) is embarking on a quiet retirement from his law career when he receives a desperate phone call from his self-absorbed ex-wife Denise (Patti Lupone – chewing the scenery) asking for legal advice. You see, before Henry came out to himself and the world, he was a happily married man and a loving stepfather to Denise’s four year old daughter, Thalia. It seems the sons of Denise’s late third husband (the one she dumped Henry for) are trying to squeeze her out of his will because their marriage didn’t last past the 25 year pre-nup. Even though Henry is still bitter that she cheated on him and took away custody of Thalia, she’s extremely needy and exceptionally nervy, so he agrees to help her out.

Reconnecting with Denise ultimately leads Henry back to Thalia (unfiltered screwball Jennifer Lawrence), now a 20-something struggling actress whom he invites to move into the basement apartment in his brownstone. To further her career, and against Henry’s advice, Thalia agrees to pose as the girlfriend of a 40 year-old horror film star (Lukas Haas, equal parts weirdo and wounded puppy) whose PR people believe engagement to an attractive young starlet will change his public image and help him achieve mainstream success. While Henry is thrilled to have Thalia back in his life, both she and Denise turn his ordered existence into a constant state of pandemonium. Adding to all this, Denise fixes him up with Todd Weinreb (menschy Mark Feuerstein) who dives headlong, and with unbridled enthusiasm, into both Thalia’s PR drama and Henry’s heart.

I enjoyed this story way more than I expected to. The characterizations were so vivid and everyone, even the obnoxious Denise, was so loveable and fun. The plot moves in a few unexpected directions and is never a downer. The entire thing sparkles like champagne. I honestly wish this could be made into the movie I imagined. Hopefully some producer is reading it right now.

And if J-Law isn’t available for Thalia, they could always cast one of Clooney’s previous co-stars like Anna Kendrick or Shailene Woodley.

Read this. ( )
  blakefraina | Aug 22, 2015 |
Nice to have a modern novel with an old fashioned feel. Great characters. Sweet story. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
A perfect, easy-to-read, airplane book full of good humor and warmth. ( )
  eachurch | Jun 26, 2013 |
A cast of mostly very likable characters, typical rom-com/chick-lit storyline, but a less than stellar end . Henry's estranged ex-wife and step-daughter come back into his life, he finds love with Todd and general satisfaction with life. The story is a lighthearted romp, but while the reader expects-and gets- a happy ending, this ending is a mediocre and unlikely summing up of events. Lipman has other, better works but if you're looking for a light beach read, it's fine. ( )
  quirkylibrarian | May 21, 2013 |
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Mameve Medwed

Stacy Schiff

Anita Shreve
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Henry Archer did not attend his ex-wife's husband's funeral, but he did send a note of condolence.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618644660, Hardcover)

Elinor Lipman's trenchant and witty novel about a father and daughter reunited.


A hysterical phone call from his ex-wife and a familiar face in a photograph upend Henry Archer's life. Henry is a lawyer, an old-fashioned man, gay, successful, and lonely. Thalia, his stepdaughter from a misbegotten marriage, is now twenty-nine, an actress, hopeful and estranged from her newly widowed crackpot mother. Hoping it will lead to better things for her career, Thalia poses as the girlfriend of a former sitcom star and current horror-movie luminary who is down on his romantic luck. When Thalia and her complicated social life move into the basement of Henry’s Upper West Side townhouse, she finds a champion in her long-lost father, and he finds new life—and maybe even new love—in the commotion.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:33 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A hysterical phone call from his ex-wife and a familiar face in a photograph upend gay lawyer Henry Archer's wellordered life and bring him back into contact with the child he adored, a short-term stepdaughter from a misbegotten marriage long ago in this humorous domestic tale from the Upper West Side.… (more)

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Average: (3.65)
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