Harriet Mahoney is an aspiring writer with a boyfriend of 12 years and is a member of a writing group where she feels like an outsider. Forty one and lacking self esteem Harriet's life is in a rut.
Harriet soon finds her boyfriend has met someone else and wants to get married ASAP, so Harriet needs to find a place to live and fast. Responding to an ad in New York review of books she takes a job as a ghost writer for Isabel Krug and moves to Cape Cod.
Isabel Krug is quite a character. She was in bed with her lover when his wife came in and shot him to death. Nan VanVleet is found not guilty by reason of insanity and goes to a psychiatric hospital instead of jail. Isabel moves on with her life and moves to a mansion in Cape Cod to escape her notoriety. She has now decided she wants to tell her side of the story and that is where Harriet comes in. Isabel seems to love drama and mystery and lives in her avant garde home with her handy man and a mysterious man named Costas.
As Harriet begins to gather the notes and tapes Isabel has furnished about the night of the tragedy the more she learns about Isabel and the closer friends they become. It is apparent that these two women need each other's friendship. Together they become better people with the help of each others insights.
Lipman is the master of witty conversation and writes truly believable characters that you really care about, flaws and all. Isabel could have been a caricature but comes across as a believable person and Harriet's growth and learning what her true passion is was very convincing. The twist in the story towards the end was inventive and realistic. This was a charming book that made me smile, and even though you know some of what will happen almost from the start it is still fun getting to the final page.
A quick, quirky read. Wonderfully entertaining.
At forty-two, Harriet just got dumped by her bagel-baking boyfriend of twelve years and she's still a struggling novelist drudging away at a secretarial job. Then she answers an ad in the NYT for a ghost-writer---and is hired by Isobel, a beautiful and free-spirited woman with her own issues---among which is being involved in an adulterous love triangle that ends with one person dead and another committed to a mental institution. Moving out to Isabel's Cape Cod beach house, Harriet starts learning the truth about not only about how people see themselves as opposed to how they are, but her own truths and self-deceptions.
This wasn't a bad book, but about 2/3's the way thru, I was like let's get on with it. One of the blurbs on the book compare Lipman to Jane Austen---I think Miss Austen has the ability to move a story along at a much faster pace and create more charming, interesting characters. I felt like a lot of the characters in this book were boringly self-indulgent. But it wasn't too bad. This is my second Lipman novel I have read---I probably won't read another one.
Not Lipman's most compelling but still interesting people and fun read.
Great beach reading! Light, funny.