The Family Man
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The Family Man

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  2,365 ratings  ·  529 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 305 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2009)
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Michele Lainof
I'd fallen in love with two of Elinor Lipman's books, The Inn at Lake Devine and Isabel's Bed, and read as many of her others as I could find, following those. I was a bit disappointed in the last two I'd read , My Latest Grievance and The Pursuit of Alice Thrift, so I was a bit hesitant to read The Family Man. I actually stayed up half the night reading because I was so drawn into the story and the characters. I loved the relationship development, especially between Thalia and Henry. One of the...more
Tara
Elinor Lipman's "The Family Man," set in contemporary Manhattan, is a witty celebration of engaging dialogue and the triumph of love. Wordy characters abound in this fast-paced domestic farce: Henry Archer, a successful, recently retired gay attorney; Denise, his histrionic ex-wife from the distant past; Todd, a middle aged sales clerk with his eye on Henry; Thalia, an aspiring actress who seeks to reunite with her stepfather Henry after twenty years of estrangement -- all of these characters ar...more
Janet
I've been in a reading funk lately. Haven't liked a thing I've picked up. On Saturday, I was looking through the new books on our library's shelves and since I was not recognizing many of the authors, I started just pulling them out and looking at the cover. (Who says you can't judge a book by its cover?) I liked the cover of this book and on closer inspection recognized Elinor Lipman as the author of Then She Found Me, a book that I read only because I was planning on seeing the movie once it c...more
Aeisele
This is the fourth Lipman novel I've read, so I think I can almost make a judgment on her writing. Long and short: she's excellent at dialogue and awkward characters (like Denise in this, Alice in the Pursuit of Alice Thrift, Bernice in "Then She Found Me," and Laura Lee in "My Latest Grievance"), but most of her characters are thin and unbelievable.

Her novels are billed as "screwball comedies," I'm assuming alluding to Cary Grant or Rosiland Russell films, or something like that. But Lipman gi...more
Judy
This was my first Elinor Lipman novel but it sure won't be the last. This novel is funny, bright, light, intelligent, and also touching, all in under 300 pages!
Henry Arhcer is the gay ex-husband of an exasperating woman named Denise, who has just lost hubby #3 to a heart attack. Henry sends a condolence note, which Denise latches on to as a way to get Henry back into her life as a pal and as a lawyer, since Denise's two stepsons have been left her husband's entire massive estate.

The story also i...more
Deyanne
I forgot that I had read this until I just saw it on a friend's review. I distinctly remember laughing out loud and thinking...clever, clever, clever. I an smiling remembering.
Alison
Dec 29, 2009 Alison rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alison by: Goodreads
Shelves: humor, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heather
I heard an interview with the author on NPR, she lives in Western Massachusetts, and the lead-in was "a modern-day Jane Austin", my interest was piqued.

While a fine family-relationship novel, it isn't exactly Austin-esque. I liked the characters and the setting of modern-day Manhattan, it lacked the humor that I find in many of Austin books. But, I loved the protagonist Henry, and his step-daughter Thalia, and the characters of Todd and Lillian.

My two quibbles with the book is that the "name dro...more
Sandie
Elinor Lipman is known for producing smartly written, amusing stories of modern day people facing modern day problems. In her latest outing, The Family Man, she introduces us to an array of unusual characters ranging from charming Henry Archer the single, retired and quietly gay attorney and his ex-wife the distraught, recently widowed an absolutely self-centered Denise Krouch to their aspiring actress daughter Thalia and her pretend boyfriend Leif, a quasi Hollywood star who is trying to jump s...more
Rebecca
This is the classic Manic Pixie Dream Girl with a twist--the uptight guy whose life she turns around is her gay ex-stepfather.

It's a charming bit of wish fulfillment that will keep you delightfully entertained as you roll along, and make little to no sense in retrospect. Wannabe actress Thalia, who flirts with everyone and wears her step-grandmother's clothes, is the kind of person who's deliciously fun in fiction and who you'd want to bash her head in with a brick after two days if you knew her...more
Sara
This book plodded along, going nowhere, mainly fueled by dialogue from characters I didn't care about, and I had to put it down before even making it halfway through. It wasn't horrendous or completely unreadable, but it's also not a book worth reading or finishing.

Henry's a middle-aged gay man whose ex-wife calls him hysterically one day because her new husband has died without naming her the primary beneficiary of his estate. Meanwhile, Henry recognizes his ex-wife's daughter (Henry's ex-step...more
Judy
Henry Archer is retired, lonely, gay, wealthy, and living in a fabulous townhouse on the Upper West Side of New York City. His ex-wife, that's right ex-wife, calls him hysterical after the funeral of her husband. Apparently her behavior at the funeral is the talk of the town. Henry has had a complicated relationship with Denise over the years. When they married, he adopted her young daughter, Thalia, and adored the little girl. But, thinking of Thalia's long-term emotional health, he allowed Den...more
Beverly
Frothy light and entertaining comedy of manners. A buttoned-up formerly married gay man meets up with his former step-daughter, Thalia, an aspiring actress, and falls in love, in a familial way. Along the way he meets the true love of his life (Todd) and reconnects with his wacky ex, Thalia's mother Denise. The main plot is about Thalia's adventures as the fake fiance of a D-list actor who is trying to improve his image.

I classified this as chick lit because one of the main characters is a young...more
John
I don't believe in leaving a review of books I didn't finish, but this one's an exception.
Initially, we meet Henry's ex-wife, whom he hasn't heard from in 25 years, bitching about her long-ago pre-nup being enforced by her stepson: she was to get everything should her third husband (Henry was second) die after their 25th anniversary; he only made it to #24. So, she's now reduced to "penury" as a result (an allowance that would still put her in the top 1% or so of U. S. households). Ugh!
Henry rea...more
Susan Oleksiw
Henry Archer has been divorced from Denise for 25 years when she is widowed and he writes her a note of condolence. The divorce from Denise was a happy occurrence for Henry because he knew he was gay and wanted out of the marriage, but Denise was cheating on him, which added an unpleasant tone. His sympathy for her as a widow, however, leads to her invasion of his life looking for sympathy and support when her pre-nup kicks in and she is left with almost nothing. That's "nothing" in the terms of...more
Margaret
Good, but...I kept thinking there was going to be more, I don't know plot? Which sounds strange, because a lot of stuff happens in this book (Man sends condolence card to his ex-wife, who is recently widowed, is reunited with his long-lost daughter, and finds a new love) but it all seemed very passive somehow. Like the plot was just sort of flowing by while Lipman made wry comments about it, insetad of being actively engaged in what was going on.
Kyla
I loved this book for the first 10 chapters or so - so delicious and non-threatening and clipping along at a good pace. I was thrilled to find such a good non-guilty pleasure author. But then the plot went off the wheels, the character we were meant to love irked me and the ending - someone explain the ending to me, will you? Disappointing because it started so strong and light and sweet...
Lil
Delightful little book about a lonely, recently retired New Yorker who reconnects with a long lost stepdaughter. Henry Archer's life gets a lot more full and more fun. This book is light and a little screwball, but the writing is exquisite. I'll definitely be reading more Elinor Lipman.
Robert Blumenthal
One reads books for all sorts of reasons: to be moved, to be creeped out and kept up at night, to be taught something, etc. The adjective that comes to mind when reading Elinor Lipman is delightful. She creates wonderful characters and tells a charming and sparkling story around them. She is the modern day New York City version of Oscar Wilde. In this lovely tale, divorced and gay Henry gets back in touch with recently widowed ex-wife and. subsequently, gets back in touch with her daughter from...more
Peggy Parsons
What fun!!! Please consider reading this only in private as your constant bursts of laughter is bound to irritate those around you.
Mary Hawley
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book for the second time. I liked it well enough before, but I suspect that at the time I'd read too many books in a row about New Yorkers, which for a Midwesterner can be like a long, noisy subway ride. So this time I really enjoyed Denise Krouch as a comic character who annoys and offends everyone while propelling the action forward and even making things better for a few people. The rekindled father/daughter relationship between Henry and his adopted daughter...more
Nick
Funny, silly, tender, touching. Lipman does it all!
Elizabeth Quinn
I was annoyed when I finished my last book by Lipman, but this one won me back bigtime! I was absolutely charmed by Henry Archer, the gay 50-something recently-retired Manhattan lawyer who is The Family Man. Henry retired young because his father died young -- in his 50s -- but it's Celeste, a kindergarten teacher who is his best friend, who dies young of cancer. That's why he sends a note of condolence when he hears of the unexpected death of the 50-something husband of his ex-wife, who left hi...more
Marie-Jo Fortis
Henry is a retired lawyer, gay, divorced, and still resentful of his ex-wife Denise who was unfaithful during their marriage. Still, when Denise, now widowed from her third or fourth rich husband, sends a phone SOS of sorts to Henry, he comes to the rescue. She is about to be ruined by her stepsons, and she needs a serious legal defense, so she can keep the pension she feels entitled to after 20 + years of marriage. Henry's hard feelings are somewhat mellowed when he discovers that his hairstyli...more
Kassie
The book jacket describes this book as a modern day Jane Austen story, which is what originally drew me to it. While I didn't think the story line was particularly Austen-esque, there was a lot of humor and witty dialogue, so I guess that's where the comparison comes in. The story is about a man named Henry who divorced his wife after she cheated on him. He then lost contact with his step-daughter, who was about two at the time. The story actually starts twenty-five years after that divorce: his...more
Wallace
Type: {Weekend Read: a book to curl up on the couch with}
Rating: {I’m Lovin’ It: Very entertaining!}

Why You’re Reading It:

You are a fan of Elinor Lipman
You want a good introduction to mainstream GLBT literature
Quirky family stories are enjoyable for you
You like anything with New York as a setting (and somewhat of a character)

What I Thought:

The Family Man by Elinor Lipman is about Henry Archer, a distinguished gentleman who lives in New York, is a lawyer, and is lonely. Henry is gay, but was once...more
Sherri
Henry Archer is divorced and is gay. For the most part he is happy, but he feels that there is something missing in his life.

Henry's ex-wife Denise had a girl from a previous marriage who Henry adopted when he was married to Denise. But soon the philandering Denise moved on to another man - Glen. Henry let Glen adopt the girl and he stayed out of her life.

But at the very beginning of the story, Glen dies and it is some 10+ years later. Henry finds his long lost adopted daughter Thalia and they...more
Linda
I enjoy Elinor Lipman’s books, they are generally very amusing with characters you can like right away or learn to like by the end of the book, so I was expecting to enjoy The Family Man and I did- just not quite as much as usual.

The plot starts out well, Henry Archer newly retired attorney, gay, unattached and lonely reconnects with his former step-daughter, the child of his first (and only) wife. When Denise left Henry he gave up his rights as adoptive parent in order to avoid a nasty custody...more
Dorothy
It's a measure of how much I like this book that I was able to overlook its tense. I LOATHE BOOKS WRITTEN IN PRESENT TENSE. OK, so I'm old-fashioned, but I can't help it. I assume the present tense is meant to give a sense of immediacy, and/or make the narration seem more intimate - but to me it just sounds illiterate (I hear a whiney schoolgirl saying, "Well, then we go to Maccas and I says to Charlene, I says, you can't do that, and she goes, yeah...")

So as I said, the fact that I enjoyed this...more
Brendan
After reading a couple of grim mysteries, this was just what I needed. Lipman fills her novel with chatty and funny people who move through life with the best intentions and wrestle with universal questions like getting the freshest bagels at Zabar's and figuring out a life plan now that you've scored a rent-free maisonette in the Upper West Side. That sounds like I didn't like it, but I did: all of the characters are big hearted, and if they are overly self-absorbed, it's made up by their kindn...more
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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
More about Elinor Lipman...
The Inn at Lake Devine Then She Found Me The View from Penthouse B Isabel's Bed My Latest Grievance

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