Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Man or Mango?” as Want to Read:
Man or Mango?
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Man or Mango?

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  239 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Eloise is the sad, mad, and hermetic heroine at the center of Lucy Ellmann's hilarious new novel. A middle-aged ceilist who hides herself away in a tiny British cottage, she blames the world for its lack of love, and similarly despises it for its anger. Not until her beloved cello is stolen -- and her former lover, an American poet named George, returns -- does Eloise emer ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 1st 1999 by Picador USA (first published 1998)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Man or Mango?, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Man or Mango?

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  239 ratings  ·  35 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Man or Mango?
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5, rounded up.

The impetus for reading this, obvs., was the delight I took in Ellmann's magnum opus, Ducks, Newburyport - Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019, since I subsequently wanted to sample what her back catalogue might contain. If anything, this is both quirkier, and funnier, than that behemoth, and would be an excellent place to start for those who would like to see what all the fuss is about, but do NOT want to commit to 1020 pages to do so. I read this in under 24 hours (not only i
L.S. Popovich
Sep 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, 3-star
Man or Mango is my least favorite Ellmann novel. I have gotten through all of her novels aside from Doctors & Nurses and Ducks, Newburyport. This not to say that Man or Mango, a Lament, is not good. It is entertaining, like all of her work, though it lacks focus and subtlety in my opinion.

Ellmann, famously an expatriate, who looks down on America's excesses through the lenses of her biased characters. There were segments in this book of unfiltered feminist vituperation. She also takes occasional
MJ Nicholls
Eloise, with umlaut, is a self-hating woman of private means who loathes leaving the house. Speaking to the mailman causes her hours of trauma, as do basic phone or street interactions, particularly those with negative outcomes. She curls up with her cats making lists when she isn’t fretting about washing her hair. George, her ex, is an American poet composing an epic on ice hockey whose chauvinism is coming to an end with an acute case of writer’s block. After a hundred pages of existential cra ...more
Robert Wechsler
Ellmann is a very clever writer, but I was not taken with this novel. That’s the thing about humor: you go for it or you don’t, even when it’s very well done. The only part I really disliked was the lists. I made it to page 50.
Jun 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, if quirky novel about meaningfulness in human lives. What makes our lives worth living? Family and friends? Love? Work? A Zen-like appreciation for all the universe, of which we are just a tiny part? Or, according to this novel, not a damn thing, we are just as big a piece of shit as comes out our bums. We are no more important or insightful than the wrack whipping to and fro on a cold boulder somewhere on the sea shore right this moment. This could be my new xmas story.
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
From my 1999 notebook:
Not for me. Starts well, funny, journalistic, lists thrown in, the holocaust, life of bees etc., but it deteriorates - for me - when it all decamps to C? (Can't make out my writing) and there's an earthquake and a tidal wave but frankly I didn't care. Although I did read on to the end.
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book, in a way, is about losing faith in life, love and human beings in general. It is told in alternating narratives, each of which reveals an insight into the characters' lives and thoughts. My favorite, the main character, is Eloise, who "had watched her mother die lost, her father die angry, her old cat in her arms die all unknowing. And she had endured another loss that was like a death. She had seen how the body can let you down, she had no faith in it. Her own was an empty shell thro ...more
Lizzy Baldwin
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
I think we’ll take this review step by step, The book follows the life of Eloise an unmarried British woman, nursing a very fragile and broken heart. After inheriting her father’s estate, she creates a hermit style existence inside a quaint Tudor cottage where she decides to hide from the world. She avoids any interaction with others and has specific times of recovery for each interaction, innocent glance her way (ten minutes) verbal contact (hours) having that verbal contact rejected by a frien ...more
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
This was a quick read, I picked up on the street in Brighton outside someone's house (they'd left a load of books out with a 'help yourself' sign) and I didn't know what to expect. I'm not sure the 'hilarity' promised quite materialised. Super black humour maybe. Interesting and some parts of Eloise's rants were excellent. Very experimental in tone - some parts are from a student of creative writing's notebook, which was the impression the whole book gave.

Also, lots about bees, and each chapter
Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comic-fiction
The daughter, I believe, of the great critic Richard Ellmann (Joyce scholar). Funny stuff.
florence baxter
Feb 22, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
might have to try this another time but dnf'd this not sure if i hate the whole thing or it's just not my kind of book but anyway ...more
Mar 11, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I’m surprised I finished this book. I did so because it’s fairly short and because I did like a few things about this train wreck of a novel. I grew fond of misfit Eloise, enjoyed passages here and there, and both those things gave me false hope that the author would make it worth my while in the end. She did not.

References to Nazis and the lists of items they confiscated from Jews before extermination led me to expect more gravitas and reflection. Perhaps making lists, long lists, lots and lot
Bidisha Das
The writing is stellar, and I will read everything Lucy Ellmann writes, but I also got a bit lost, especially with that ending.
Aug 19, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark and strange; compelling inn form and style as any other Ellman novel.
Matthew Mansell
Apr 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5stars. Enjoyable, weird, disjointed, interesting, with an unpredictable ending. I'm glad it was short enough to read in one sitting because I think I would have lost track of it and given up if I had had to put it down. Recommended summer read. ...more
Heather Adkins
Nov 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have nothing but good things to say about Lucy Ellman. I read Dot In The Universe a while back and loved it, and this book did not let me down. Between British rambling nonsense and the mating habits of bees, this novel is so full of universal truths about the human condition. The heroine is completely neurotic, the hero self obsessed but hopelessly in love, and all the crazy interruptions by various nonsensical characters just adds to the f**ked up view on people.

I love that you can seperate
Monica Akinyi Odhiambo
Feb 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
When i started reading this book, I actually thougt i wouldn't finish it. It had a lot of quotes, lists and titbits about bees in between the book, that I wondered how all that encapsulates the story about Eloise and George. Eloise is one frustated lady ,weird with hermit like tendancies that are beyond crazy. She hates men, human company, anything that would require her to care about anybody. At some point she had me thinking 'Is there really a time in a woman's life where every man seems attra ...more
Lane Pybas
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Man or Mango? follows the mishaps of a middle-aged misanthrope as she copes with the horrors of a social existence. Eloise, the heroine of this novel, spends her days calculating the time it will take her to mentally recover from encounters with the mailman and trying to forget her former lover George, a poet and pinball enthusiast. These characters and the novel’s weird obsessions (bees, hockey, and the Holocaust) would make this book flat out fun if it weren’t for Ellmann’s heartbreakingly acc ...more
ok, i read this book randomly years ago, and i don't remember it at all, except for the literary technique of lists, lots of lists. i remember the lists seeming so novel and clever, and using it in my own fledgling creative writing attempts. i also remember being flustered by random holocaust references in the midst of romantic musing. i think the book itself was pleasantly skitso. i think i might have to read this again. ...more
Apr 30, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ellman uses lists and pictures (which I love) and historical tidbits and caplital letters in this novel, and I felt some worked (I love the capitals) and some didn't (the historical facts felt out of place - why insert a quote from Thomas Hardy in the middle of your writing...?). I read that Ellman does not really expect anyone to identify with her characters, so I was alarmed to find much in common w/ Eloise! What's wrong w/ being a misantropist?! I will definitely read more from Ellman! ...more
Jessica Haider
Jun 07, 2007 rated it liked it
"Man or Mango" was nominated for the Orange Prize for Fiction.

This was a quirky, clever, little novel about some rather unique characters. The book is riddled with lists, letters, and poetry created by the characters. The author's black comedy made it an entertaining read, but it may not be for everyone.
Sep 27, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dot in the Universe is one of my favorite books ever so I've slowly been working my way through the rest of Ellmann's books but this one didn't really grab me. I'll keep trying. ...more
Olivier Lepetit
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good little book, very alive - although it can feel extremely disjointed with a story in the background, it is read very quickly and you find yourselves pondering the future of the main characters. Curiously engaging book.
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Lucy Ellmann is an author unlike any other I've ever read. Her style is completely her own and there isn't any way to explain what exactly this book is, but it is wonderful and if you're reading this review, you should definitely read it. ...more
Gi-Gi Downs
May 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
This was a fun little vacation read. Didn't require much attention or commitment but I remember enjoying it highly... along with a poncy poolside drink. ...more
May 23, 2007 marked it as to-read
another library find. i thought Dot in the Universe was hilarious, so i got pretty excited at discovering another book by lucy ellman.
An interesting read...I was a little lost at the beginning but I really enjoyed how it all came together at the end.
Jan 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This was such a fun and interesting book. It's a short, easy read that keeps your interest peeked by weaving multiple stories into one seamless ending. ...more
Nov 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1900s, american
Very quirky and weird read but I quite liked it :)
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World
  • In the Dream House
  • Wow, No Thank You.
  • The Topeka School
  • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
  • Corregidora
  • Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations
  • Intimations
  • Fake Accounts
  • The Road to Lichfield
  • Milk Fed
  • No One Is Talking About This
  • The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau (Georges Gorski #1)
  • The Butterfly Girl (Naomi Cottle, #2)
  • The Mercies
  • Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets
  • The Memory Police
  • The Truth About Lorin Jones
See similar books…
Lucy Ellmann was born in Evanston, Illinois, the daughter of biographer Richard Ellmann and writer Mary Ellmann (née Donahue). She moved to England at the age of 13 and was educated at Falmouth School of Art (Foundation degree, 1975), Essex University (BA, 1980), and the Courtauld Institute of Art (MA, 1981).

Her highly-praised autobiographical first novel, Sweet Desserts, was awarded the Guardian

News & Interviews

“I'm in a weird place because the book is about to come out. So I'm basically just walking around like a raw nerve and I'm not sure that I...
41 likes · 8 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“GENERAL STATEMENT FOR ALL CONCERNED: I do not wish you to be perturbed in any way by my current uncommunicative behaviour. I wish it to be known that I am not pursuing any friendships at the moment because I can not think of anything to say and I suspect I am bad for people. I am too egotistically involved in my own decay to focus on the troubles and triumphs of others...” 8 likes
“And they dare to rule the world! They have made it so ugly. Square houses! Their obsession with straight lines and right angles has ruined the earth! They consider all curves, all subtleties, all softness, all indefinites, female, and they shun them. They have poisoned and denatured everything they touch, and expect us to be grateful.” 5 likes
More quotes…