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The Family Man

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  3,185 Ratings  ·  637 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
Hardcover, 305 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Houghton Mifflin (first published January 1st 2009)
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Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Right before listening to this, I finished Elinor Lipman's latest, On Turpentine Lane and knew that I needed to read more books by her. Thanks to a recommendation by my GR friend Debbie, I immediately found The Family Man on audio, and I think it's even better than Turpentine Lane. (Ironically, turpentine gets a mention in this book too -- the paint remover, not the road).

This is intelligent, progressive, and very, very funny. We have Henry Asher, a retired lawyer, divorced gay man, whose heart
Carolyn F.
What a very good, happy book. Just loved it. I had read another book by this author and thought I'd start working through her other works. So glad I did.

It reads current but then you get the MySpace reference and the father saying gay older men don't text. That had me immediately looking up the publication date. Wonderful book.
Helen Dunn
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: four-stars
I'm not sure how this book found its way into my kindle but I'm glad it did! The easiest way to describe this for me is a romantic comedy movie in book form.

Fast paced, sweet, funny, sappy. All the best things with just enough plot to keeps things chugging along.

Perfect easy reading. I'll pick up more of her books for sure.
Jul 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Michele Lainof
Aug 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Jami Collier
Oct 21, 2016 rated it liked it
more of a 3.5
Blake Fraina
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Please indulge me by allowing me to write this review as if it was the delightful film I so wish it could be.

Single gay bachelor Henry Archer (George Clooney – channeling a mix of legal eagle Michael Clayton and the hapless cuckold of “The Descendants”) is embarking on a quiet retirement from his law career when he receives a desperate phone call from his self-absorbed ex-wife Denise (Patti Lupone – chewing the scenery) asking for legal advice. You see, before Henry came out to himself and the w
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
May 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
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
Nov 08, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Jul 14, 2009 rated it liked it
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...
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book when it was first published, and am now on a quest to listen to any Elinor Lipman novels that are available through my public library's download collection.

While I'd describe the author as a comic novel writer, this one isn't so much laugh out loud funny as genial and good natured.

Henry is a middle-aged, gay, retired lawyer who was once married to a flighty woman who cheated on him. In the divorce he also lost contact with his ex's daughter from a previous marriage.

Twenty-five y
Dec 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Alison by: Goodreads
Shelves: humor, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 07, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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
Apr 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
May 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: chick-lit
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
Jul 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: funny, contemporary
This was a cute, fun book, and different from what I've been reading lately. It was a nice change of pace.

The cast of characters here are really what the book is all about, and it's a kooky bunch, to be sure. I did love Henry, though I found his choices questionable at times. Okay, most of the time. Your crazy, fairly deceitful ex-wife? Why talk to her?! And then the whole Thalia thing--I have to admit, I totally expected that to come back around to bite him. And their reunion started out so st
Jun 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2009
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
Aug 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book despite randomly picking it up at the local library. I want to be Henry Archer's long lost step-daughter! The writing was immaculate yet welcoming, similar to how I picture Henry's apartment. At some points along the way, I forgot this book was written by a female author. At times the book seemed a little slow, but that pace didn't bother me because it meant there was still time for more kitchen coffee conversations between Henry and Thalia. I would consider reading mo ...more
Debbie R
Jun 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is not great literature but it is a charming and delightful story. Sometimes you just have to read a happy book. The story gives a twinkle of hope to the reader who might feel his/her life is on auto-pilot. The great thing is that one's life can suddenly change as the result of a random act (in this case reaching out to a former spouse who recently lost her current husband). The Family Man is a good little book that leaves you smiling.
Aug 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
She pulls another one out. Just when you think she'll never be able to pull another book off- how many likable interesting strong characters in complicated situations can there possibly be? You gotta love how she loves her characters. In mary Annes rating system, this was a day and a half with my sister visiting. ( I had to finish it so she could take it on vacation with her- is that rationalizing?)A truly good read.
Carol Balawyder
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A smart, well written comedy of manners novel. A very pleasurable read about charming people. The relationship between stepfather and stepdaughter (Thalia) is enchanting. Thalia is a delightful character and in my opinion is the star of the novel. A true feel good novel.
Jul 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2009
The Family Man is Henry Archer, a gay retired lawyer who is reconnected with a much beloved ex-adopted daughter. Characters were completely lovable and the dialogue believable. Lipman has great wit and this book was a perfect beach read.
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Funny, silly, tender, touching. Lipman does it all!
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Peggy Parsons
Jan 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-fiction
What fun!!! Please consider reading this only in private as your constant bursts of laughter is bound to irritate those around you.
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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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