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The Dearly Departed

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3.56  ·  Rating details ·  993 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
Everyone in King George, New Hampshire, loved Margaret Batten, part-time amateur actress, full-time wallflower, and single mother to a now-distant daughter, Sunny. But accidents happen. The death of Margaret, side by side with her putative fiance, brings Sunny back to the scene of her unhappy adolescence, to the community that remembers her solely, nervously, as "the girl ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published July 17th 2001 by Random House (first published July 1st 2001)
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Raina
Jan 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Elinor Lipman's books. Her writing style is light and insightful and funny and deft, however, this one seemed to fall short of her usual mark as it was a bit too predictable. I loved the characters and loved that it's a nice, easy read...but I find that I really preferred her other books more.

That said, let me defend The Dearly Departed. Her story has a great premise - the daughter of a single mother and the son of a single father learn that their parents have died at the same time (from
...more
Peggy Parsons
Apr 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
Sunny returns to her hometown to bury her mother. She finds she may have a half-brother and a different father than the one she thought. While dealing with her unhappy past life in the town and her mothers newly-learned past, Sunny finds a future that's not all that bad.

A smoothy written book full of colorful characters.
Nancy Wilson
I don't usually read books like this and can't really figure out how it got on my list. People died but not through murder. This was simply a tale of family. But it was a nice story and while I didn't feel urgently I had to finish it it was pleasant and I liked how it ended.
Rebecca
Another book that I have been working on, oh, since August. I found this book when I still worked at KZLA and it looked like something I could resell, so I took it. But of course, I have to read it first.

Sunny returns to the small town in NH that she grew up in after the sudden death of her single mother and her "gentleman friend". A freak gas leak accident that also brings the gentleman friend's son to the town as well. They figure out that the man who died is also Sunny's father, though she di
...more
Amy Wilder
Aug 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like Elinor Lipman - the NYT reviewer called her the Nora Ephron of authors (so of course I bought the book!) and I have to agree, she's light and insightful and funny and deft.

Her story has a great premise - the daughter of a single mother and the son of a single father learn that their parents have died at the same time (from a gas leak, no apparent foul play). The strange thing is that, arriving to the double funeral, they find they look uncannily alike (they both have wispy, premat
...more
Bayneeta
Picked this up as a "backup" audio for a vacation trip. Thought I probably had read it before; I had. In this light, slight tale, Lipman created three of the more annoying, unpleasant characters I can recall: Sunny's half-brother, the political candidate he works for, and the doctor's shrewish wife. Some first rate dialogue and fond memories of other Lipman books carried me through. Jen Taylor reads the audio version.
Amy
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elinor Lipman Rocks! This may not have even been my favorite of her books, but her witty, incisive writing, and knack for the hilarious, and yet deeply moving all at once, has compelled me to read everything she's ever written. I have two left, and wonder if she's working on something now. I wrote to her and she wrote me back. She's quite lovely. She said I am her ideal reader, and I think she appreciated my reach out.

Now totally riveted by the DoveKeepers, by Alice Hoffman. Wow! Never want it
...more
DeAnna
Sep 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Elinor Lipman but this book fell short.
The characters and story line were great but it seems like the story ended 100 pages (or more) too soon.
It was building up to be something really good but suddenly it ended with hastily tied-up relationships and several stories unfinished.
What happened with Dr. Quimet and his horrible wife?
Why was Fran Pope such a hypocrite and why was the lady who owned the local motel SO hateful?

This book had lots of potential...it just ended too soon.
Anna
Sep 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just read this again duing a rapid week of back to back books during some sleepless nights :)

Really enjoy Lipman's characters, have a totaly crusj on Joey the cop.

Also loved the girls v. boys tension around Sunny's golfing, very cute.

Reminded me a lot of my old favorite Anne Tyler, since Lipman does the chapter by chapter switch in narrative -- Carrie, I'm *sure* there's a word for this, inform me!

And Lipman is SOOOO good about her choices for when to drop the f-bomb, it's so effective. Ther
...more
Carolyn Crocker
Aug 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
With her characteristically light touch, Elinor Lipman plumbs the mystery that parents pose for their children, when Sunny's mother and Finn's father die together in a freak accident. Carbon monoxide poisoning seems like just the first in a chain of freak accidents that bring people together and drive them apart-- and who can know why? Humor and a happy ending in small-town NH do not preclude wit and wisdom.
Jeri
Sep 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that it's hard to describe to people. A young woman at a turning point in her life returns to her home town when her mother dies and learns she has a brother, finds her true love, and resolves past issues. It's much, much better than that description makes it sound. Often light and amusing, but (mostly) true to life as well -- I enjoyed it (although I thought the character who shot the cop got off much too lightly).
Maggie Holmes
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-s-fiction
This audio was delightful. The characters -- except for maybe Joey -- are flawed people who are just trying to get through life. Almost all of them are narcissistic which makes for funny conversations. Not a whole lot of plot, but wonderful characters. I was thinking of this for a book discussion -- I've had requests for humor -- but I'm not sure what we'd talk about. I wish we had found out what happened with the doctor.
Nancy (essayist)
Aug 18, 2009 rated it liked it
I'd never read anything by Elinor Lipman before and this didn't encourage me to seek her out again. The writing was engaging enough, but I didn't feel very connected to this story about two people who meet for the first time when their aging parents are found dead. I kept waiting for something more dramatic to happen, but the characters just sort of meandered along. I enjoyed some of the characters and appreciated some of the humor, but there wasn't enough of a story here for me.
Adele Goetz
I sometimes have this fantasy of living in a small town full of quirky, yet erudite people - basically "Northern Exposure" but not in Alaska because I just can't deal with wearing fleece. I know in reality that I would hate living in a small town because I don't like people knowing my business, so instead I read books like this one.
Nell
Dec 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have liked others by Elinor Lipman better--The Inn at Lake Devine, Then She Found Me, and The Ladies' Man--but a novel by Lipman is always a good read. The stories keep you reading to find out what happens, the characters are believable, and Lipman isn't afraid to be a bit snarky.
Laura
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was such a lovely surprise, put on my radar by someone who knows me well and thought I might enjoy it. With crisp dialogue and stream-lined prose every page felt simply enjoyable and pleasant despite the complexity of the subject matter. Most importantly for me, though, humor filled most every page with the author's light touch.
Giovanna
Sep 13, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Lipman's books look as if they must be 'guilty pleasure' books, but I swear they're good--Lipman has a singular voice and dry sense of humor. They're in a class of books that is hard to come by--maybe not 'literary fiction' but fun: well-written keen studies of people. Though I and others might argue that they are 'literary fiction'! If only the covers didn't scream 'chick lit'...
Jgknobler
Fun and breezy, but not as good as some of her others. This is about a woman who, at her mother's funeral, comes to realize she has a half-brother and that her father is someone other than who she's been told. This theme of mysterious parentage is explored in other Lipman novels as well, if I recall correctly.
Jill Gilbert
Not much happens in this breezy book by Elinor Lipman. I would have given it 2 1/2 stars if half stars were available. I did like its portrayal of life in a very small town, and the main character, Sunny Batten, is likeable. So, a pleasant, if uneventful, portrayal of a young woman who returns to her small town to attend her mother's funeral and decides to stay for a while.
Mel
May 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sunny Batten is an unusual heroine, we meet her returning to her mother's cabin in the small town where she was the only female golfer on her high school team and had to hold her own to stay in the game. Lipman writes witty commentary so appropriate for small town politics. I was surprised at how easy to read this book was.
Gerry
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
Described by one reviewer as Peyton Place meets Grover’s Corners. Sunny Batten returns to the small town where she grew up feeling poor and isolated, living alone with her “widowed” mother, who had actually been deserted by her husband when he discovered her infidelity.
Skyler
Dec 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three stars means it was a pleasant enough read. However, a three star rating from me is not a recommendation that others should read it. It was not a waste of my time. Inn at Lake Devine and Family Man and View from Penthouse B were the best of my Lipman reading binge. I loved those!
Mimi
Aug 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit
A pleasant, no stress read. Wasn't as engaging as View from Penthouse B, but non-the-less, an enjoyable, light read. Interesting characters, I especially enjoyed the character of Margaret Batten. I will certainly read more of Lipman's books.
Susan
Aug 24, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun read with witty dialoge and descriptions. However, I'm not sure I liked it well enough to seek out more books by the author without a recommendation. Something, perhaps a little suspense or more tension, was missing.
Emily
May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Elinor Lipman's writing style. This book was no exception with an engaging story and relatable characters. The only character that I never really "got" was Fletcher, perhaps he was too much of an exaggerated stereotype. An otherwise great read for a plane ride or a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Rachel
Jul 19, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining but almost a rather basic story that I felt had the opportunity to be very dramatic and interesting. The author chose a more middle of the line path which I guess is a nice change of pace from melodramas but I just kept expecting something more to happen.
Nicholas
My least favorite of Lipman's oeuvre, but even that doesn't mean it's bad.
Jana
ebook 1-58836-013-x
iPod Touch, eReader Pro
copyright 2001
Jeannine Blunden
Witty, great fun to read.
Jeanne O'donnell
Great read I happened to find in some older books. Characters are terrific, including the town which creates a very small world. Interesting plot too and humor.
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Elinor Lipman is the author of 11 humorous novels about contemporary American society; essay and short story collections, and a book of rhyming political tweets.. Born and raised in Lowell, Massachusetts, she graduated from Simmons College where she studied journalism. She lives in Manhattan, and received the New England Book award for fiction in 2001. Her first novel, "Then She Found Me," was ada ...more
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