Then She Found Me

( 12 )

Overview

April Epner teaches high school Latin, wears flannel jumpers, and is used to having her evenings free. Bernice Graverman brandishes designer labels, favors toad-sized earrings, and hosts her own tacky TV talk show: Bernice G!

But behind the glitz and glam, Bernice has followed the life of the daughter she gave up for adoption thirty-six years ago. Now that she's got her act together, she's aiming to be a mom like she always knew she could. And...

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Then She Found Me: A Novel

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Overview

April Epner teaches high school Latin, wears flannel jumpers, and is used to having her evenings free. Bernice Graverman brandishes designer labels, favors toad-sized earrings, and hosts her own tacky TV talk show: Bernice G!

But behind the glitz and glam, Bernice has followed the life of the daughter she gave up for adoption thirty-six years ago. Now that she's got her act together, she's aiming to be a mom like she always knew she could. And she's hurtling straight for April's quiet little life....

This is the story of what happens to a Latin teacher's quiet life when her biological mother, a flamboyant talk-show hostess, decides to track down her daughter after having given her up for adoption. "A bright, lively and funny look at an eccentric mother-daughter relationship."--The New York Times Book Review.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Quiet and content April Epner, a high school Latin teacher whose adoptive parents are recently deceased, is claimed by her birth mother, an obnoxious TV talk show hostess. ``Raising laughter and tears with acutely observed characterizations and dry, affectionate wit, Lipman also keeps dealing out the surprises, leaving readers smiling long after the last page is turned,'' PW said. (Apr.)
Library Journal
What happens when a well-adjusted adult is found by the birth mother she never sought? In Lipman's deft hands, the relationship between high school teacher April Epner and her newly discovered mother, talk-show hostess Bernice Graverman, is often strained, replete with humorous misunderstandings, but ultimately a warm and positive experience for both. Lipman's depiction of a 1980s family is a skillful rendering of the morals and manners of our time. Each character displays his or her human contradictions, whether it's Bernice frantically inventing preposterous stories concerning April's birth father, or April tentatively moving toward romance with the school librarian. This is a delightful addition to public library fiction collections.-- Andrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, Kan.
From the Publisher
"A bright, lively, and funny look at an eccentric mother-daughter relationship." — The New York Times Book Review

"An enchanting tale. .. . Full of charm, humor, and unsentimental wisdom." — Publishers Weekly

"Funny and poignant.... Then She Found Me is a truly happy book." — New Orleans Times-Picayune

"Winningly wry and dry-eyed.... Funny, moving, and very wise in the ways of life." — Kirkus Reviews

"Keenly expressed insights.... Charming." — Vogue

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671686154
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1991
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 307
  • Sales rank: 535,314
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (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

Read an Excerpt

One

My biological mother was seventeen when she had me in 1952, and even that was more than I wanted to know about her. I had no romantic notions about the coupling that had produced me, not about her being cheerleader to his football captain or au pair to his Rockefeller. When I thought about it at all, this is what I imagined: two faceless and cheap teenagers doing it listlessly in the unfinished basement where they jitterbugged unchaperoned.

"Adopted" was never a label that made me flinch. Its meaning within our family was "hand-selected,'' "starcrossed," "precious." I loved the story of my parents' first glimpse o f me at the agency, how I solemnly studied their faces — hers, his, back to hers — then grinned. I was raised to be glad that the unlucky teenage girl couldn't keep me; the last thing I wanted was some stranger for a mother. Still, I slept with a light on i n my bedroom until I was twelve, afraid she'd exercise her rights.

Later it annoyed me. The teenage girl annoyed me, nothing more. Could she ever have worn real maternity clothes or taken a single prenatal vitamin on my behalf? Here is where I remember to feel relief and gratitude and say, no matter. I am healthy, happy, better off. It is a lucky thing she didn't keep me. I'd barely have finished high school. I'd have become a beautician or a licensed practical nurse, and I would think I had a glamorous career. The grittier I made it the more righteous I felt. I invented these jitterbugging teenagers when I was in junior high school, as my adoptive parents began to look old. I voted against the irresponsible kids, emphatically for the Epners. My story suited me and I grew to believe it. I did not attend support groups for adoptees and I did not search for anyone.

Then she found me.

Copyright © 1990 by Elinor Lipman

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

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(7)

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2005

    Uniquely Hilarious

    I'd read and enjoyed Elinor Lipman before ('Isabel's Bed' and 'The Inn at Lake Devine') but still was unprepared for this one. The premise is completely original and the characters are as funny as they are true-to-life. April Epner has always been content with her life and with her adoptive parents, never feeling the inclination to search for her birth mother. But then Bernice Graverman (aka 'Bernice G!', a larger-than-life TV personality) turns up and announces that she is April's birth mother -- and April's well-ordered existence is turned upside down. The relationship April and Bernice forge together is by turns harrowing and hilarious, but is definitely never dull. This is my favorite Elinor Lipman novel yet, and I can't wait to read the rest of her work!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2009

    Perfect Rainy Day Book

    This is a light read that made me smile and touched on relationship issues that are relevant to us all.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2001

    Really funny

    By chance, I was looking for another writer in the L section at Barnes & Noble, happened upon Then She Found Me, and was hooked immediatley. A great story about a larger than life birth mother who decides, some 35 years later, to finally invade her daughter's life. Great premise, characters and wit. I read the book in two days, then ran back to B&N and picked up other books by Lipman--Isabel's Bed, The Inn at Lake Devine and The Way Men Act. A wonderful writer who hasn't received the credit she deserves.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2014

    A story of a mother who gave her daughter up for adoption then w

    A story of a mother who gave her daughter up for adoption then went on to become a local TV celeb, this story has a few developed characters, the story did not peak at any point making this book a bland read. There is humor which saves the story.
    It's a light, fun read - if that is what you are looking for. Our book group loves this author's other books, this one not so much.

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  • Posted June 5, 2011

    A must read: I was hooked at the 2nd Sentence!

    I admit I was forced into reading this book as part of an assignment for Engligh Lit; otherwise, I would have never picked up this book. After reading just the first paragraph, I was hooked! Elinor Lipman does a fantastic job making you feel like you are right there with the characters. I almost felt like I was invading in on a private conversation. Her imagery of words are intoxicating!
    Beware that the movie is a complete opposite of the book! So if you have to write a paper -- writters beware and read the book!

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  • Posted April 1, 2011

    Light and romantic book

    I watched the dvd before purchasing the book, and the movie is completely different from the book. I enjoyed both, but the movie was more touching and emotional. I kept picturing Helen Hunt and Bette Midler, but was wondering who would have played the part of Dwight from the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2008

    Not even close to the movie version

    I purchased this book after seeing a preview for the Helen Hunt movie based on this book. This book is nothing like the movie, other than the fact that the biological mother finds the daughter that she gave up 30-some years earlier. I was disappointed because the story line of the movie was much different, and funnier. The book is okay. The characters are a bit annoying and not very likable. It gave me a few laughs, but I would not recommend it.

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    Posted January 12, 2009

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    Posted March 6, 2011

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