I adore Henry Archer. Elinor Lipman introduces the gay retired lawyer in The Family Man, the kind of man so many of us would love to have as a friend. He's a man who is content with his life, but doesn't realize it could be so much richer.
Henry only meant to be nice when he sent a note of condolence to his ex-wife when her husband of twenty-four years. But, Denise took it as a chance to dump her problems on him. And, while Henry was at her apartment, he noticed a picture of the daughter he had shared with her for two years, when Thalia was three and four. Henry never regretted losing Denise, only Thalia. So, when he recognized her as the girl who takes his coat at his hair salon, he sets out to reconnect. He learns she's an aspiring New York actress, and, before long, finds himself wanting to be father again to the daughter he lost.
Denise bumbled through so much of her life, alienating her daughter, and her stepsons. She does try, though, even setting Henry up with some of her gay friends. Despite reservations, Henry tries to help her a little, because his life only gets better, as Denise's seems to fall apart.
Up until now, The Inn at Lake Devine has been my favorite Lipman novel. All of her books have wonderful characters, people with a wry way of looking at life. Lipman's characters often cut through the hypocrisy of life. Elinor Lipman writes social satire, fun novels with underlying messages of acceptance. And, Henry Archer, is a kind, gentle man who exemplifies the best of Lipman. He's perfect for The Family Man.
Check out Elinor Lipman's website, with the subtle music, at www.elinorlipman.com.
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The Family Man by Elinor Lipman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ©2009. ISBN 9780618644667 (hardcover), 320p.