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Isabel's Bed

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,630 Ratings  ·  135 Reviews
In the tradition of the best of Susan Isaacs, Isabel's Bed takes a story right out of tabloids and transforms it, through the author's comic genius, into a saucy and suspenseful Delight. Life according to Isabel is a soap-opera extravaganza, an experience to be swallowed whole--and the attitude is catching.
Paperback, 400 pages
Published August 1st 1996 by Pocket Books (first published 1995)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,269)
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Antof9
A quote from Julia Glass (Chicago Tribune) from the back of the book: "If Jane Austen had been born about two centuries later, gone to Smith, then palled around with Fran Lebowitz, chances are she'd have written like Elinor Lipman. She is one of the last urbane romantics. As always, Lipman makes us laugh out loud."

well. . . . . she's no Jane Austen, I'll say that! This was mildly entertaining, but not quite the amazing book I expected after the back cover.

To start with, I found what the title *
...more
Georgina
May 14, 2007 Georgina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comedic-quirky
I wasn't sure how I felt about the protagonist initially but she grew on me, and overall I really enjoyed the book. Lippman created very authentic characters and was particularly successful at delving into the heart and mind of a recently scorned lover.
Gale Martin
Sep 06, 2014 Gale Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book second-hand at The Book Mill in Massachusetts and thoroughly enjoyed it. Fresh premise, wonderful execution. Ms. Lipman is a really a stunning writer--first-rate. As a writer, I'm learning a great deal from her. The story was unpredictably funny and quirky. Nothing ends the way you think it will, and yet, it was all wrapped in a very affirming way.

Lipman creates real people who are funny and flawed. Did it change my life, no? Are there innumerable lessons in it for people w
...more
Robin Wright Gunn
I love Elinor Lipman's novels. Her writing is light but always makes me laugh, makes me stay up way too late when I should have turned off the light, makes me "see" the characters by revealing one or two key traits or habits, and reveals their vulnerabilities.

If you are looking for War and Peace this aint it. If you are looking for smart fresh down to earth writing that is still mostly for entertainment, here you go.

Sort of a book version of the smarter date movies--e.g. Four Weddings and a Fu
...more
Kathleen
I am in the early stages of reading those Elinor Lipman novels that I may have irresponsibly missed along the way. I wasn't sure how I was doing with this one in the early pages, but in the end, I was more than satisfied. Her characters maintain a sense of self,honesty and integrity that made me want to cheer for them as they figured out their lives and sorted through some complicated pieces. Her writing is crisp, as always; her insights into the human spirit, funny yet respectful.
Linda S

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
...more
Linda
Nov 19, 2009 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mod-lit
When aspiring author Harriet Mahoney signs on to write the memoirs of Isabel Krug, whose lover was shot by his wife while they were in flagrante delicto, she's ready for a change, and that's exactly what she gets. Isabel has fled to Cape Cod to escape notoriety, and leads an unconventional life in an unconventional house, with her husband Kostas, a disgraced artist. After a few days, Isabel and Harriet warm to each other, becoming friends as well as collaborators.

What I liked:

A la the Seinfeld
...more
Kandice Newren
Dec 28, 2009 Kandice Newren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Isabel's Bed is another great story by Elinor Lipman. It is still light, funny, and engrossing. The funny thing about this book is it's pretty much all about sex, not in the detailed sense, but how it's a part of everybody's life. The writers in the story talk about how they don't want to write about sex in detail, but it's what everybody wants. Then there is one of the main characters whose life is pretty much about sex, and a book she's having written about a scandal she was a part of (yes, de ...more
Elizabeth
Jul 23, 2009 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun read about a 40 something woman, recently dumped by her jerk of a boyfriend, who is hired to ghostwrite the story of an infamous love-triangle murder by the mistress of the murdered man, and becomes drawn into a world very different (and a lot more interesting) than her own. Sometimes predictable (will she get together with the hunky handyman?), sometimes twisty (the murdering wife gets released from the mental hospital and comes for a visit), but always enjoyable. Lipman does a good job c ...more
Celia
A light and breezy tale that takes place on the Cape, so naturally, I had to read it. Harriet has just been jilted by her live-in boyfriend, and after giving him almost 10 of the best years of her life, she has to move on. She has been in a writing group in NYC, but still has nothing to show for it. A new situation arises, and Harriet heads to Truro in winter, to ghost-write a scandalous story of Isabel, who was in her lover's bed when he was shot dead by his wife. This is funny and cute, a good ...more
Jenn
Sep 25, 2011 Jenn rated it liked it
What to say about this? Definately not what I expected. Although I can't pinpoint what I was expecting either. A story of loss and gain (even if that sounds cheesy) but still a novel that leaves you saying: that's it? Not that I want to read more, I just kind of feel like I finished a book that told me...well...nothing.
At least it was a quick read.
Diane C.
Not one of Lipman's more engrossing books, at least the last half, which goes off track a bit. A great story but not well edited.

Recently dumped 40 something New Yorker and aspiring writer Harriet moves to Cape Cod to be high spirited Isabel's ghost writer. The story..........the wife of the man Isabel was having an affair with, caught them in flagrante delicto and shot said husband. Now she's writing a book about it, with Harriett's help. Isabel is the total opposite of Harriett, resulting in
...more
Katherine
Aug 24, 2014 Katherine rated it really liked it
I read it on vacation, and it was a fun read. I love Elinor Lipman; I'm working my way through all her books. Not a dud yet.
Sharon
Jan 19, 2013 Sharon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Isabel's Bed is the first novel I've read by Lippman. The book is fairly light. Characters resemble people I've met, particularly in the art world, easily visualized through Lippman deftly crafting individual attitudes, behaviors and weaving in wisps of human flaws leaving the reader with a good frame of reference.

Isabel, former mistress of a murdered philanderer hires Harriet to write her story, culminating with an abrupt & public ending to the affair, caught in a sexual romp by the wife wh
...more
Amy Friedman
How I love Elinor Lipman! I just laughed the whole way through. I have read and loved and devoured every one of her novels, just recently, the view from Penthouse B. Then I contacted her to tell her so. For like the second time. She is an exceptionally talented and funny writer, and one of my absolute favorite novelists! Perhaps my favorite of hers, you ask? The Inn at Lake Devine? My Latest Grievance? Perchance even, View from Penthouse B!
Sally Wolf
In this book Isabel, was in the wrong place at the wrong time and has decided to write a book about it. Not knowing the first thing about writing she hires a ghost writer. The lives of all of the charterers intertwine in a weird set of events that lead everyone to find themselves a different place in their lives then where they started out. If you are the kind of person who reads the first ten pages of a book to see if they will like it or not then this book is defiantly not for you. The first c ...more
Lynn Pribus
Dec 23, 2013 Lynn Pribus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book just tickled me. Great narrator. Amusing plot. What I especially liked was the way she handled two scenes simultaneously. Hard to explain, but here's just one example

The son of Nan, the woman who has killed her husband (in a moment of temporary insanity, so she is now out of the mental hospital), is a star on a soap opera.

Nan; Isabel, the woman who was in bed with said husband at the time he was murdered; Isabel's sometimes estranged husband, Kostas; the handyman Peter; and Harriet, t
...more
Tara
Jul 28, 2014 Tara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Elinor Lipman, a local author's, light, quirky, and swimmingly-written books. The perfect summer read with well-developed characters who one cannot help but love. I've got to meet this woman as I've read so many of her books. Almost done with another, thank you Meekins Library!
Ann Moriarty
This was one of Elinor's earlier books and was a second read for me. It was just a romp from bed to bed on Cape Cod. There were some serious moments too, but you really have to search for them.
Gail Kirkpatrick
Aug 13, 2014 Gail Kirkpatrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Someone said, 'fresh and funny,'I agree. Also sharp dialogue, moving pace, great characters. Perfect for my summer reads.
Paulette
Jul 31, 2014 Paulette marked it as stopped-reading  ·  review of another edition
I really liked And Then She Found Me so I checked out a couple other books by this author. No go. Too many dumb characters.
Catherine
Jun 10, 2008 Catherine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not really sure why I finished reading this book. Curiosity?


The satirical ideas were there, but the execution was off. It was mildly entertaining and I think any synopsis/recap of the book and its storylines would make you think it was funnier than it actually was.

Except for the fictional and charming D-list celebrity, I never felt any attachment for the characters.

But apparently people love this author's work, so I'll caveat this review by saying that I read Isabel's Bed on the heels of
...more
Anne
Mar 28, 2016 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable chick lit, held up well for a 20 year old book. Funny Donald Trump references.
Sharon
Sep 04, 2014 Sharon rated it liked it
Most entertaining, loved the characters, the book flowed right along. A good read.
Andrea
Sep 25, 2010 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
What a great book! This was so unexpected from what I was thinking about when I kept avoiding in on my TBR pile. I love that the setting was mostly Cape Cod, Mass, and NYC. I also love how the main characters came to the realization that you can get stuck because your not great at being what you think you want to be. I guess I feel into my career in a similar way so I could relate a lot to her near misses and finding her way after all. I really got a kick out of how the author wove in the soap o ...more
Nicole
Jan 24, 2016 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-listened
It was an interesting, and at times, funny book with several quirky characters.
Traci
Jan 06, 2013 Traci rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I would probably try another book by this author because the writing is satisfactory, but this one didn't do it for me. I think in general, I just wasn't that invested in the characters.

Synopsis: A forty-something aspiring author is dumped by her long-term boyfriend and takes on the job of ghost writer for a B-list celebrity whose claim to fame is essentially being in bed with her lover when his wife shoots him. This is the story of her getting over her boyfriend, coming to terms with her writin
...more
Sandy
Mar 25, 2015 Sandy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not bad, but not as enjoyable as The View from Penthouse B.
Jennifer
Jan 06, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy Elinor Lipman's stories. this one in particular could be for anyone who sometimes feels like a supporting character in their own story. Harriet finds herself alone at 42 & floundering with her life path. determined to write, she takes a position as a ghostwriter for a larger than life tabloid star & learns that you can't always get what you want, but sometimes, you might find, you get what you need. that is probably an imperfect song lyric quote :)
Sarah
Jun 27, 2008 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I would have liked this book a lot better if Harriet wasn't such a sad sack. Flawed protagonists are fine, but she was kind of pathetic. I know it took place in the mid-1990s, but stirrup pants? Come on, Harriet. I didn't mind the fact that the plot was predictable (except for the epilogue, which came a bit out of nowhere). It just made Harriet seem that much more dense. Still, it was a quick read on a hot day. I'll probably pass it on to my mom.
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Elinor Lipman is the author of eight novels about contemporary American society and a collection of short stories. Born and raised in Lowell, Massachusetts, Lipman graduated from Simmons College where she studied journalism. She lives in Western Massachusetts and Manhattan, and received the New England Book award for fiction in 2001. Her novels Then She Found Me, The Ladies' Man, and The Pursuit o ...more
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