When I first moved to Milwaukee, I learned after signing my lease that the previous tenant had died in the bathtub. So I was particularly amused by the setup of Elinor Lipman’s newest novel, wherein one Faith Frankel purchases a fixer upper and learns that the previous owner died with her effects still in the home. Faith’s engaged, but her fiancé Stuart is on his own sort of quest, a walk across America, documenting in social media his search for enlightenment. Ms. Frankel has returned from New York to her small Massachusetts hometown, working in the development office at a small private school. She is said to write a mean thank-you note, but things get complicated when her efforts are misconstrued and a bequest for the school is sent to her personally. Plus there’s the problem of that previous owner; what exactly was going on in that house? While Lipman’s newest is filled with the familial complications we come to expect, I’m not giving anything away by calling On Turpentine Lane a romantic comedy of the highest order, with the delight not just the classic joy of seeing the two people meant for each other get it right, but in the myriad ways that other couples can get it completely, hilariously wrong.
Here's a link to purchase tickets to our event with Elinor Lipman at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center on February 19:
An endearing romantic comedy from the beloved best-selling author of The Family Man and The View from Penthouse B
At thirty-two, Faith Frankel has returned to her claustro-suburban hometown, where she writes institutional thank-you notes for her alma mater. It's a peaceful life, really, and surely with her recent purchase of a sweet bungalow on Turpentine Lane her life is finally on track. Never mind that her fiance is off on a crowdfunded cross-country walk, too busy to return her texts (but not too busy to post photos of himself with a different woman in every state). And never mind her witless boss, or a mother who lives too close, or a philandering father who thinks he's Chagall.
When she finds some mysterious artifacts in the attic of her new home, she wonders whether anything in her life is as it seems. What good fortune, then, that Faith has found a friend in affable, collegial Nick Franconi, officemate par excellence . . .
Elinor Lipman may well have invented the screwball romantic comedy for our era, and here she is at her sharpest and best. On Turpentine Lane is funny, poignant, and a little bit outrageous.