Sunday, April 22, 2018

ISABEL'S BED by Elinor Lipman

After having struggled through several books lately that were challenging in either length or format, I enjoyed reading something light and lively for a change.  Harriet’s bagel-baking boyfriend of 12 years has just dumped her, but she has just landed a job as a ghostwriter for a headline-grabbing memoir.  Nan VanVleet shot and killed her husband Guy when she discovered him in bed with his gorgeous and voluptuous mistress, Isabel.  Isabel hires Harriet to write her story, and Harriet moves in with Isabel and Isabel’s estranged-husband-in-residence, Costas, near Provincetown on Cape Cod.  Handyman and general errand boy Pete also lives there.  If this sounds like a soap opera in the making, let me just add that Nan and Guy’s son Perry VanVleet is in fact a soap star.   Nan herself has copped a plea to temporary insanity and wants to write her own tell-all memoir.  This is a juicy confection, but my only complaint is that it’s not really that juicy.  In fact, it’s really very tame, even though Harriet’s writers’ group always demands more sex from one another’s fiction.  One thing I do like about it is that there’s more dialog than narrative, and the dialog is mostly between Harriet and Isabel, as one would expect of a ghostwriter and her client.  The big question is who will be Harriet’s love interest:  the jilting boyfriend Kenny, Ferris from her old writers’ group, Costas, Pete, Perry, or some other interloper. 

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