Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Lipman, Elinor (On Turpentine Lane)

This is a typical Elinor Lipman novel - chic, clipped sentences; descriptive, but not florid; contemporary, but not full of cultural references. Her tales are often amusing, and usually relevant to our lives. No one in these tales seems like a true realized person, though - they have lives but how they go about living them is always a bit fantastical.

Case in point, this tale involves, a woman who finds herself first in a terrible relationship and then in a good one. Neither seems typical. They're each far too much one way - the bad relationship is ridiculously stupid (obviously so) and the good one is utterly perfect (obviously ridiculous). As well, there is a wayward father, a tragic mother, and an understanding brother - all of these characters are par for the course in her novels.

The mystery at the end of the book doesn't have a lot of weight to it, also because it's intentionally ridiculous. The house is, of course, the central point of the novel - everything derives from it - so the reveal of the mystery feels like it should more directly impact the lives of the characters. In the end, it's only the window dressing.

Still, I always enjoy a Lipman novel. They're, at their core, no-nonsense and because they're not really based in reality, they're a delightful escape from it.

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