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The Way Men Act

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Overview

Melinda LeBlanc, at 30, makes an untriumphant return to Harrow, Massachusetts, her recently gentrified hometown. She’s unmarried, romanced out, designing wedding bouquets for old classmates who hadn't known a fraction of her early popularity. So why is she alone—not counting the occasional horizontal encounter—while these dull brides have found men and happiness? Libby Getchel, who designs strange dresses in the shop next door, and Dennis Vaughan, a native son who owns the hip Brookhoppers, a fly fisherman's ...

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Overview

Melinda LeBlanc, at 30, makes an untriumphant return to Harrow, Massachusetts, her recently gentrified hometown. She’s unmarried, romanced out, designing wedding bouquets for old classmates who hadn't known a fraction of her early popularity. So why is she alone—not counting the occasional horizontal encounter—while these dull brides have found men and happiness? Libby Getchel, who designs strange dresses in the shop next door, and Dennis Vaughan, a native son who owns the hip Brookhoppers, a fly fisherman's paradise, provide friendship in mutating forms. The Way Men Act explores age-old quandary: Can you every truly go home again? Find out in this “wise and charming novel” (Cosmopolitan).

The author who has singlehandedly revived the art of screwball comedy is back with a delightful novel about living in the '90s. Set in Harrow, Massachussetts, where "quality of life" is measured in cappucino machines, poetry readings and bike paths, The Way Men Act is about friendship, snobbery, and getting lucky in love after giving up hope.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"With The Way Men Act, Elinor Lipman emerges as a full-fledge talent, a witty, compassionate chronicler of modern sensibility, wise without beating the reader over the head with her insights....Written in spare, sparkling prose, with not a flat or dragging millisecond." — Michael Dorris in the Boston Globe

"Elinor Lipman's language is so superb that to paraphrase would be murder. Part of the joy of this wise and charming novel is in the writing. The rest is in the thinking—smart, offbeat, funny. What a pleasure." — Cosmopolitan

"In a league with Jane Austen... Elinor Lipman's eye for social geography instantly infatuates, just as the screwball plot charms with its basic tenet of successful courtship: location, location, location." —Glamour

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In an enchanting second novel--a BOMC selection in cloth--Lipman traces the untriumphant return of 30-year-old Melinda LeBlanc to her recently gentrified Massachusetts hometown after a decade of unfocused living in California. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Continuing her deft exploration of contemporary social mores, Lipman ( Then She Found Me , LJ 3/15/90) focuses on the unmarried thirtysomething crowd. Melinda LeBlanc has returned to her New England hometown after failing to get an education or a husband in California. Observing and participating in the coupling and uncoupling of friends, relatives, and others, Melinda tries to understand the nature of attraction between men and women in order to achieve her own happy ending. Putting a wicked 1990s spin on the game of courtship, Lipman comes up with a winner--a wry, witty, fond look at decent people attempting to make connections with each other. This will gain new fans for the author as well as pleasing the old. Recommended for most fiction collections. BOMC selection.--Andrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Com munity Coll. Lib., Overland Park, Kan.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671748418
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1993
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 769,774
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Elinor Lipman

Elinor Lipman started writing fiction by night while working at a teachers’ magazine by day. Her first book, Into Love and Out Again, was published in 1987; its centerpiece was seven connected stories, novella-length, which gave her the courage to try a novel. Then She Found Me came out in 1990 (eighteen years later it was adapted into a feature film), followed by The Way Men Act, Isabel’s Bed, The Inn at Lake Devine, The Ladies’ Man, The Dearly Departed, The Pursuit of Alice Thrift, My Latest Grievance, and most recently, The Family Man. Her honors include the New England Book Award and the Poetry Center’s Fiction Prize. She divides her time between leafy western Massachusetts and New York City. Visit ElinorLipman.com to find out more.

Biography

Elinor Lipman began writing fiction in her late 20s, when she enrolled in a creative writing workshop. Since then, she has written a string of bestselling novels, as well as short stories and book reviews. Her books are more than just romantic comedies; Lipman writes entertaining characters who enlighten the plot with their human idiosyncrasies.

Her first release was a collection of short stories, titled Into Love and Out Again (1986). This charismatic collection of stories contains early elements of the thing that would make Lipman a loved novelist: finely drawn characters and page-turning plot twists. The theme of these sixteen stories is the stuff of modern domestic life -- marriage, pregnancy, weight gain and true love.

When Lipman released Then She Found Me (1990), Publisher's Weekly called the debut "...an enchanting tale of love in assorted forms ... a first novel full of charm, humor and unsentimental wisdom." When 36-year-old April Epner suffers the death of both of her adoptive parents, she seeks solace in her quiet, academic life as a Latin teacher in a Boston high school. Bernice Graverman is April's opposite. She's a brash, gossipy talk show host who lives her life with all the tranquility of a stampede. She's also April's birth mother. Lipman's story of their mother and child reunion is unforgettable.

In The Way Men Act (1993), Melinda LeBlanc returns home to Massachusetts to work in the family business. She finds a friend in neighboring shop owner, Libby, and has a one-sided love infatuation with Dennis Vaughan, another small town shop owner. Lipman takes on small town values by portraying the story's interracial relationship with wit and intelligence.

Filled with surprising friendships, Isabel's Bed (1995) tells the story of Harriet Mahoney, a writer at the end of her rope. When Harriet's long-term lover leaves unexpectedly, she moves from Manhattan to Cape Cod for an unusual writing assignment. Harriet has agreed to write the life story of tabloid darling Isabel Krug, a vivacious woman who earned her fifteen minutes of fame for her role as the other woman in a high-profile murder case. Their unusual partnership is the basis for this twisting, hilarious comedy of friendship and trust.

The Inn at Lake Devine (1998) is loosely based on a true story. The serious issue of anti-Semitism is treated with humor -- something Lipman is able to do so wonderfully in all her novels. When Natalie Marx's family is denied entry into the Inn at Lake Devine in Vermont, she plans revenge. But her plans are complicated by a friendship with Robin, fiancé to the son of the Inn's owners. Lipman's deft treatment of the play between discrimination and friendship creates a novel whose characters and setting may as well walk straight off the pages; and readers will find themselves laughing at the most serious of issues.

A committed spinster, Adele Dobbin is reunited with the man who left her at the altar thirty years earlier in The Ladies' Man (1999). Nash Harvey arrives, unannounced of course, on Adele's doorstep, and brings chaos into the lives of Adele and her sisters (also single, aging baby-boomers). In a rousing game of sexual politics, Nash unintentionally forces the sisters, particularly Adele, to examine their desires. Five distinct plot lines weave together seamlessly around Nash and his haphazard, womanizing lifestyle.

Sunny's homecoming in The Dearly Departed (2001) is equally life-altering. When her well-loved mother passes away, an entire small town mourns her departure. Back at the scene of her unhappy teenage years, Sunny dreads facing her former classmates, employers and so-called friends. What she finds is unsettling, but in a healthy way: the small town and its citizens are not nearly as malicious or clueless as she mythologized. Likewise, she realizes, neither was her mother. In a touching blend of social commentary, family drama and romantic impulses, Sunny learns that you can go home again.

The Pursuit of Alice Thrift (2003) is classic Lipman. Serious and shy, Alice aspires to be a philanthropic surgeon, using her skills for charity more than personal gain. That is, if she can make it through the rest of her medical internship. Alice is shaken (and confused) when she falls in love with an eccentric, foul-mouthed fudge salesman. But don't expect too much sentimentality here: Lipman gives away the ending in the first chapter, telling readers that the relationship was kaput, but the fun in reading this book is discovering why the two characters even glanced at each other in the first place. It's a great read -- Lipman places Alice on an unthinkable, yet totally believable path and we get to watch her find her way through.

Good To Know

In our interview with Lipman, she shared some fun facts about herself with us:

"I was nearly fired from my second job, which was writing press releases for Boston's public television station. I couldn't do anything right in the eyes of my newly promoted and therefore nervous boss. I quit after three months, one step ahead of the axe, feeling like an utter failure."

"Tom Hanks and his production company have optioned my fifth novel, The Ladies' Man. Robert Benton (Bonnie and Clyde, Kramer vs. Kramer, Nobody's Fool, Places in the Heart, Billy Bathgate, The Human Stain) is signed on as director and screenwriter."

"I was runner-up for the Best Actress award at Lowell High School in Lowell, Massachusetts, class of '68, after playing Gabrielle (the Bette Davis role) in The Petrified Forest and Elaine (the ingénue/niece) in Arsenic and Old Lace. And I was grievance chairman for the staff union when I worked for the Massachusetts Teachers Association in the late 1970s. Both of these inclinations come in handy to this day."

"I knit all the time."

"I wear a pedometer, aiming for five miles a day -- don't be too impressed; that includes walking around my house and food shopping. Sometimes I walk no farther than my own driveway because I can hear the phone ring -- 12 round-trips equals one mile."

"I cook quite seriously, which I think is an antidote to the writing -- i.e., I finish the project in an hour or two and get feedback immediately."

"I watch golf on television, although I don't golf -- except for visits to the driving range in spurts."

"I wake up at 6:00 a.m. no matter what time I go to bed."

"I was a roving guard on the Lowell Hebrew Community Center's girls' basketball team all through high school. My specialty was stealing the ball, but my only shot was a lay-up."

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    1. Hometown:
      Northampton, Massachusetts, and New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 16, 1950
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lowell, Massachusetts
    1. Education:
      A.B., Simmons College, 1972; Honorary Doctor of Letters, Simmons College, 2000

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2001

    I judged a book by it's cover

    I literally bought this book because I liked the cover so much. But it turned out to be a fantastic read, and I have read it over and over again over the past few years. It led me to read more of Lipman's work, all of which I have so far adored. It's a fast read and kept me interested throughout the entire story.

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