The Inn at Lake Devine

The Inn at Lake Devine

by Elinor Lipman

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375704857
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/1999
Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 380,746
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Elinor Lipman is the author of numerous novels, including On Turpentine LaneThe View from Penthouse BThe Inn at Lake DevineThe Pursuit of Alice Thrift, and Then She Found Me (a 2008 major motion picture written, directed and starring Helen Hunt); a collection of stories, Into Love and Out Again; an essay collection, I Can’t Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays; and Tweet Land of Liberty: Irreverent Rhymes from the Political Circus. She has been called “the diva of dialogue” (People) and “the last urbane romantic” (Chicago Tribune). Book Magazine said of The Pursuit of Alice Thrift, “like Jane Austen, the past master of the genre, Lipman isn’t only out for laughs. She serves up social satire, too, that’s all the more trenchant for being deftly drawn.”

Her essays have appeared in the Boston Globe MagazineGourmetChicago Tribune, and The New York Times’ Writers on Writing series.  She received the New England Booksellers’ 2001 fiction award for a body of work and a 2007 lifetime achievement award from NELINET (New England Library and Information Network), “created to recognize the contributions of an individual associated with New England who has significantly advanced the arts and letters.”

Hometown:

Northampton, Massachusetts, and New York, New York

Date of Birth:

October 16, 1950

Place of Birth:

Lowell, Massachusetts

Education:

A.B., Simmons College, 1972; Honorary Doctor of Letters, Simmons College, 2000

Read an Excerpt

It was not complicated, and, as my mother pointed out, not even personal: They had a hotel; they didn't want Jews; we were Jews.

We were nothing to them, a name on an envelope, when it began in 1962 as a response to a blind inquiry my mother had sent out in multiples. We'd been to Cape Cod and Cape Ann, to Old Orchard, Salisbury, and Hampton beaches, to Winnipesaukee and the Finger Lakes. That year she wrote to Vermont, which someone had told her was heaven. She found a lake on the map that was neither too big nor too small, and not too far north. The Vermont Chamber of Commerce listed some twenty accommodations on Lake Devine. She sent the same letter to a dozen cottage colonies and inns inquiring about rates and availability. The others answered with printed rate cards and cordial notes. But one reply was different, typed on textured white stationery below a green pointillist etching of a lakeside hotel. Croquet on the lawn, the Vermont vacation guide had said; rowboats, sundown concerts on Saturday nights; a lifeguard, a dock, a raft, a slide. The Inn's letter said, "Dear Mrs. Marx: Thank you for your inquiry. Our two-bedroom cabins rent at the weekly rate of sixty-five (U.S.) dollars. We do have a few openings during the period you requested. The Inn at Lake Devine is a family-owned resort, which has been in continuous operation since 1922. Our guests who feel most comfortable here, and return year after year, are Gentiles. Very truly yours, (Mrs.) Ingrid Berry, Reservations Manager."

I hadn't known up to that moment that I had a surname that was recognizably Jewish, or that people named Marx would be unwelcome somewhere in the United States because of it. I asked if these were Nazis. My mother sighed. I had been wed to the subject since reading, without her permission, The Diary of a Young Girl--specifically obsessed by where we, who had no attic, could hide that would be soundproof, and who among our Gentile acquaintances would bring us food under penalty of death.

My mother explained: There were people, unfortunately--for reasons it was hard to explain or understand--who weren't Nazis but didn't like Jews. Not that she wanted me to worry, because this was America, not Germany, not Amsterdam. We were safe here, remember? The letter was ignorant, and very bad manners. Someone should give this Mrs. Berry a piece of their mind.

I said, "Can we go?"

"You don't go where you're not wanted," my mother said. "Anyone who could write such a letter doesn't deserve our business." She took it back and stuffed it in its envelope with no particular archival care. Two days later, I removed it from the dining-room sideboard to a safer place--my sweater drawer. It fascinated me, the letter's marriage of good manners and anti-Semitism. Why bother to answer Jews at all if you don't want them at your hotel?

I tried to picture this Ingrid Berry who had signed neatly in blue ballpoint--the nerve of her insincere "Very truly yours." Was she old? Young? Married? Was Ingrid a German name? Did she get pleasure from insulting the people she banned from her hotel? And why didn't my parents respond to this slap in the face? "If you paid us a million dollars, we wouldn't come to your stupid hotel," I thought we should say. "If you had a baseball team, would you tell Sandy Koufax he couldn't pitch for you? Would you let Danny Kaye rent a room? Tony Curtis? Albert Einstein? Milton Berle? Jesus Christ?"

My mother didn't show the letter to my father, because she knew that he, like me, would want to jump in the truck and fix the problem. And so I produced it for him with the same flourish my mother had staged for me. "Good God!" he said, struggling with one hand to put on his reading glasses. I asked him if people who didn't rent rooms to Jews knew about the concentration camps.

"Everybody knows by now, honey."

I asked if he thought they had seen The Diary of Anne Frank.

"Probably not," he said. Then, "You know what I think we should do? Let's write back and tell her we want one of her stupid cabins."

I said, "I don't think they have cabins. It looks like a hotel."

He embroidered a little drama--not too seriously, but enough to get my mother's goat: We'd go as the Gentiles! Ed and Audrey Gentile. He'd known a man named Gentile in the navy from somewhere like Delaware or Pennsylvania. It was a real name. People truly had that for a name.

My mother said, "You'll have to drag me there."

"You don't want to see what a place like this is like?"

"And lie for the whole time we're there?"

"About what?"

"Church," said my mother. "You can bet the whole place empties out to go to church on Sundays."

"The Gentile family doesn't go to church when they're on vacation," my father said. "We go regularly on the other fifty weeks, but we pray in the cabin when we're on vacation."

"People will know," she said.

He thought they wouldn't. He was tall, taller than most Christians I knew, while my mother was a redhead no bigger than Gidget. And his two daughters looked like any two little American girls. "Except," my father said, smiling broadly, "nicer and smarter."

"And how would you make your point? Announce as you leave that we were the Eddie Marx family? Jews?"

"We wouldn't even have to tell them," said my father. "We could come and go and just know we fooled them."

Of course we didn't go. My mother found a place to rent on the opposite shore of Lake Devine--not a resort, but a heated cottage on a dirt road of private camps, listed with the Chamber of Commerce. We went there for two summers and found it, if not heaven, then very nice. The air smelled like bayberry. Indian paintbrush, a wildflower we didn't have at home, dotted every field. We swam and fished from a rowboat without an anchor, caught only ugly black-horned pouts we couldn't eat, and took a day trip to Fort Ticonderoga. The best miniature-golf course I'd ever played was a five-minute car ride away. The local dairy, which offered not only milk but cheddar cheese, made home deliveries even to the summer population.

My older sister and I often rowed past the Inn at Lake Devine, and studied it as best we could from offshore. It had a very green lawn, broad and sloping to the water, a white flagpole, and a chalky string of buoys marking off its swimming area. Closer to us, a raft covered with teenagers floated on shiny black oil drums. My sister and I had only each other for company, and a dock with no wading area, but here there were kids our age from what had to be a dozen families, swimming and diving as well as if they were on teams.

The following winter, having studied it and envied its postcard perfection, I put a long-thought-out plan into effect as a thirteenth-birthday present to myself. With a deerskin purse full of coins, I went to a pay phone. I called the Inn at Lake Devine and asked for Mrs. Berry. Amazingly, the party said, "This is she."

I read from my notes: "I was wondering if you had a cottage available for the entire month of July?"

"With whom am I speaking?" she asked.

"Miss Edgerly," I said, having elected the name of a Massachusetts man recently tried for murdering his wife in a particularly hideous fashion.

Mrs. Berry asked the caller's age, and I said fifteen; yes, I knew I was young to be making inquiries about accommodations, but my mother was recently deceased and my father was spending long hours in court.

She said, "We do have two lovely cottages with sleeping porches."

"Are they really, really nice?" I asked.

"They're in great demand," she said. "Electric stove, baseboard heat, stall shower, picnic table--"

"Is it private? Because my father's kind of famous. He really needs an escape."

"We're quiet and peaceful here," said the Berry woman. "It's a perfect hideaway vacation."

"Can you save it for us?"

"Do you want to inquire about our rates first?"

I told her that my father, Mr. Edgerly, had instructed me to get the best accommodations available no matter what the cost.

"We require a deposit," said Mrs. Berry. "Do you have a pencil?"

I took my time, pretending to record every syllable. "My father will send you a cashier's check first thing tomorrow," I said, adopting the disbursement method repeated daily on The Millionaire.

"You are a very smart young lady," said Mrs. Berry.

The next morning on my way to school, I anonymously mailed Mrs. Berry an old Globe clipping, its three-column headline blaring, Edgerly trial enters 6th week; jury sees "gruesome" photos, to make the point vividly to Mrs. Berry that her system "rooms open to any Gentile who dials her number" was unfair. I enclosed another clipping from my archives (Liz and Eddie/say I do's/before Rabbi) "this one from Photoplay" which spoke respectfully, even warmly, about Liz Taylor's conversion. The wedding shot showed them under a chupa, the new Mrs. Fisher in a flowered headband and Eddie in a somber dark suit and white satin yarmulke. Honored guests included their best friends, famous and beautiful Hollywood Jews.

In 1964, I would send Mrs. Berry a copy of the new Civil Rights Act. I wrote, "U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.," in the upper-left-hand corner of the envelope, and typed a letter that said, "Dear Hotel Owners, It isn't only Colored people who are helped by this law. Jewish people and others you have excluded in the recent past must now be welcome at your accommodations. It is the Law of the Land."

Who knew if I'd ever exchange another letter with a documented anti-Semite? Just in case no one ever insulted me again--in this land of religious freedom and ironclad civil rights--I employed the big gun I was saving for future transgressors: "P.S.,-- I typed and underlined: "In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart."

What People are Saying About This

Wally Lamb

I loved this book. . .Jane Austen must be smiling down on Elinor Lipman. -- Author of I Know This Much Is True

Reading Group Guide

The questions, discussion topics, and suggested reading list that follow are designed to enhance your reading of Elinor Lipman's The Inn at Lake Devine. We hope that they will suggest a variety of ways to talk about this delicious new romantic comedy by the author of Isabel's Bed.

1. What fascinates Natalie most about the offensive note from Mrs. Berry is its "marriage of good manners and anti-Semitism" [p. 4]. Does Natalie show, later in the novel, what truly having "good manners" might mean?

2. What does Natalie mean when she mentions the "Gentile ambitions" [p. 65] that led her into a friendship with Robin Fife?

3. Although Eddie and Audrey Marx are both Jewish, they were originally drawn together because of their differences. For the spritelike Audrey, "there was something . . . about Eddie's jumbo presence, something like a bodyguard's or a football player's, that was normally off limits to a Jewish girl" [p. 19]. They were forced to marry when Audrey became pregnant at nineteen. Given the circumstances of their own history together, are Natalie's parents hypocritical in trying to stop Natalie from seeing Kris Berry?

4. Natalie says that her sister, Pamela, in marrying a Catholic (in a Catholic mass, no less), "used up our family's mixed-marriage chit, even our liberal-dating chit. It was up to me to bring home the perfect Jewish son-in-law" [p. 144]. Are Jewish parents more insistent than others about keeping their children from marrying outside their faith? If so, why?

5. The Inn at Lake Devine might be called a "revenge comedy." At the end the Berrys lose the Inn, and both of their sons take up with Jewish women. Is this a fitting comic closure for Ingrid Berry? What about the feckless but kind Mr. Berry, who loses his business because of carelessness in mushroom hunting? Should he have been more active in preventing his wife's exclusion of Jews from the hotel?

6. What are the social and class markers that Lipman uses to create a sense of realism at the Halseeyon and at the Inn at Lake Devine? How well do Kris and Nelson Berry respond to their weekend immersion in Jewish culture when they visit the Halseeyon with Natalie?

7. What role does food play in this novel? How do the significance and style of dining differ among social groups at Lake Devine and at the Halseeyon? Does food have more meaning for the Jews in the Catskills than it does for the WASPs in New England? What does the desire to be a chef reveal about Natalie's character?

8. At camp, Natalie first befriends Robin Fife in the hope of being invited by her family to the Inn at Lake Devine, but she is bored by the dull-witted Robin who, she notes, "couldn't take, make, or get a joke of any kind" [p. 41]. Her relationship with Robin at fourteen could be seen as mere opportunism; how does this change when they meet again ten years later?

9. Why do you suppose Elinor Lipman has chosen to leave out any details of Natalie's college years, including her experience of dating and sex?

10. The novel of the Jewish person coming of age in modern America—the most famous examples are Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint and Mordecai Richler's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz—is usually told from a young man's perspective. How does the shift to a female narrator in The Inn at Lake Devine challenge and transform this tradition?

11. Do some of the characters come across as more true to life than others? Which of the three families—Marx, Fife, or Berry—seems most realistically depicted? Does the role of surprise in the novel feel realistic? Does the unexpected always work? Does it add or detract from your enjoyment of the story?

12. This novel is based upon the reality of intermarriage and assimilation in American life, issues that are especially painful among the more observant Jewish communities. Lipman expertly draws the difference between the habits of Natalie's Reform family and those of her Orthodox friend Linette Feldman. Is it easier to feel good about the pairing of Natalie and Kris than that of Linette and Nelson? Do you feel that love rightly triumphs over religion in this novel?

13. One reviewer of this novel wrote, "Prejudice, in all its many disguises, is an unusually worthy but often ponderous subject; its very weightiness . . . often threatens to sink otherwise well-written and well-meaning tales."1 What aspects of Lipman's style allow her to avoid this pitfall?

14. What do you find most satisfying about the way that Lipman brings her plot to closure?

15. In a recent interview Elinor Lipman said, "I like novels that are funny, quirky, intelligent, and humane."2 How well, for you, does The Inn at Lake Devine fit this description?

1 Liesel Litzenburger, "No Room at the Inn." Chicago Tribune, 14 June 1998.
2 Online, Amazon.com, February 1999.

Customer Reviews

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The Inn at Lake Devine 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a new author to me, I enjoyed it alot.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book immensely. The story is fun, the characters drawn beautifully. The whole Jewish resort was hysterically funny and so well drawn. I loved the conversations and the characters. This is my favorite Lipman novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent writing and a very thought-provoking story. This book kept me entirely focused from the first page until the very end. If you're looking for a meaningful read, this is the one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Elinor's gifted storytelling grabs you from the start and makes for one interesting tale of love and life...between the narrow-minded and the rest of us. Love does conquer all. I especially enjoyed her acknowledgement. Thanks for the good read. Keep them coming!
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing 22 hours ago
How to describe this book? Simple, yet not. It's about Natalie Marx, a young Jewish woman looking to start a professional career as a chef. As a young girl she learned first hand about "polite prejudice" when her family is denied a reservation to a Gentile-only, family-run resort in Vermont (The Inn at Lake Devine, of course). This exclusion creates curiosity in Natalie and she sets out to get herself invited as a guest. Fast forward ten years and through some near incredible coincidences Natalie finds herself entangled with the Inn at Lake Devine family once again. Only this time she is all grown up and ready to face the stereotypes and the complications of the heart head on. Of course it involves falling in love with the "enemy." Under the cute romance there is an honest commentary on what it means to marry outside your religion, what it means to be accepting of societies different than your own.
bell7 on LibraryThing 22 hours ago
In the 1960s, Natalie Marx and her family are looking into various hotels and cottages around Lake Devine, where they're going to be vacationing. Most get back to them with rates and accommodations, but one in particular, the Inn at Lake Devine, suggests that Gentiles would feel more comfortable in this lodging. Natalie becomes somewhat fascinated with the establishment that would flout laws (she sent the proprietor a copy of the Civil Rights Act), and finagles her way into a visit.This is hardly even the crux of the story, but the plot is much more delightfully fun when you don't know what's coming. Natalie is the narrator as well as the main character, and she's a fun person to be "in the head" of. All the characters were great: I never had the sense that any of the secondary characters were cookie cutter or background, all of them felt very real. Also, it was a somewhat "local" New England story, so it was fun recognizing a surprisingly large number of locations mentioned in the tale. Though racism is a main theme throughout, it's dealt with both seriousness and humor and isn't a heavy story. I'm definitely going to be looking to read more by this author.
teaperson on LibraryThing 22 hours ago
The first of Lipman's novels I read, and definitely one of her best works.
chinquapin on LibraryThing 3 days ago
When she is a child in th3 1960s, Natalie's family wants to go on vacation to a lakeside inn in Vermont, so her mother sends off inquiries to several on Lake Devine. They receive back mailers from several, including one from The Inn at Lake Devine which claims that it is best suited to Gentile vacationers. Natalie is intrigued and horrified at this exclusion of her Jewish family, and manages to finagle a visit there anyway with the family of a Gentile friend. Somewhat obsessed by this inn her whole life, she later ends up in a relationship with one of the sons of its owners. Her Jewish parents and his anti-semitic mother are both very much against any intermarriage, so the lovers meet clandestinely at a Jewish resort in the Catskills which serves as a contrast to the sad Inn at Lake Devine. Basically, this was just not my type of novel. I surprised myself by actually finishing it. I had a difficult time understanding Natalie's early fixation with The Inn and its anti-semitic owner, and her 'friendship' with Robin, the girl who invited her to come to The Inn with her family, was extremely self-serving and somewhat disturbing. The heated problem with intermarriage in light of the lack of religious belief in either her or Kris' family seemed far-fetched. Perhaps that was the point, to make the prejudice seem pointless and idiotic. I am certain this type of irrational prejudice existed, I just don't get it. The whole story felt unreal and unnatural to me, so I never really connected with, or felt sympathy with, any of the characters.
dianaleez on LibraryThing 3 days ago
I fell madly, totally, and completely in love with the heroine of Elinor Lipman's The Inn at Lake Devine. Natalie Marx is around twelve when the short novel opens, and her family has just received a politely worded rejection letter from the proprietor of the Inn at Lake Devine: there are no rooms at the inn for people with Jewish names. The first half of the book recounts Natalie's comic attempts to visit the inn, her real but limited success, and the interesting people she encounters along the way. The second half of the book concerns the twenty-five-year-old Natalie's re-introduction to the inn and her romance with the innkeepers' son. As always, Lipman's characters are quirky, yet true to life. They respond to real life situations in real ways, yet Lipman's compassionate eye for the comic shines through.
lahochstetler on LibraryThing 3 days ago
This book tells the story of how one anti-semitic hotel owner shapes the life of Natalie Marx, from her childhood through young adulthood. When Natalie's family is turned away in the 1960s from a Vermont resort because of their Judaism, Natialie becomes obsessed with the inn's owner and her prejudices. As a child Natalie works hard to infiltrate this forbidden world. The second part of the book jumps forward to Natalie's early twenties. By this point Natalie has more or less put the Inn at Lake Devine behind her, but when she makes the choice to revisit part of her past, the Inn at Lake Devine will return once again to Natalie's life in important and tragic ways. Once again Natalie will be forced to confront anti-semitism and the pain of her youth. At the same time, Natalie is trying to negotiate the world of and early twentysomething: breaking away from overprotective parents, establishing a career, and finding love. Overall, a beautifully written and engaging story.
debnance on LibraryThing 3 days ago
I couldn't set the book down once I started it. Natalie's Jewish family receives a letter from an inn the family had hoped to visit which warns that non-Gentiles are not welcome there; Natalie takes this as a challenge. Thoughtful and fun. I think I've found a new author I love!
tibobi on LibraryThing 3 days ago
The Short of It:The Inn at Lake Devine is the perfect summer read. The setting and the characters do not disappoint and it¿s surprisingly meaty given its summery feel.The Rest of It:It was not complicated, and, as my mother pointed out, not even personal. They had a hotel; they didn¿t want Jews; we were Jews.So begins the story of young Natalie Marx and her infatuation with the Inn at Lake Devine. Natalie¿s mother sends an inquiry to the Vermont hotel inquiring about summer accommodations for her and her family, and receives a polite, but firm note back indicating that the hotel does not do business with Jews. Shocked, but intrigued, Natalie wonders about the person who wrote the note and in her own way, stages a rebellion from afar.However, when Natalie discovers that a friend visits the Inn each summer, she realizes that it¿s a chance of a lifetime and manages to get the family to invite her to join them for the summer. Her parents, knowing how this establishment operates, doesn¿t want her to go, but her host family insists, so her adventure during that 1960¿s summer begins.I can¿t really call this a ¿coming of age¿ novel because Natalie has a very strong sense of self, even as a young girl, but as she matures, her sense of self deepens and she seems to understand, or perhaps appreciate her Jewish roots more. Natalie is a pleasure to know. She flounders a bit with her personal life, but she never seems the worse for it and her pragmatic way of dealing with life made for pleasurable reading.I¿ve heard of Elinor Lipman before but have never read any of her books. The Inn at Lake Devine is my first experience with her writing. Her writing is very authentic with a touch of sarcasm thrown in. The writing is humorous, but not overly so. I especially enjoyed her depictions of ¿family¿ and the interactions between parent and child.I was also charmed by the setting. A lakeside hotel in Vermont? I¿m so there. I could see the porch, the out-buildings and the shimmering lake. It all felt so genuine to me.As far as pace, I breezed through the book and read it in one sitting. There was one spot where it dragged a tad, and got a bit silly, but not enough to make me want to put it down. The first person narrative threw me off a couple of times. I don¿t read too many novels written in this narrative but it seemed to fit.An interesting tidbit¿apparently such a letter existed. Lipman¿s mother remembered the wording of the letter she received one summer, and it became the inspiration for this story.
NewsieQ on LibraryThing 3 months ago
A really great story with a bunch of great characters. A funny love story with a tinge of sadness. Natalie Marx is my heroine!
earito on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The Inn at Lake Devine is a funny romantic comedy. It takes you though the life of a jew being segregated though a hotel who wont let them stay there. The hotel manager and the jew's family end up being great friends in the long run and the son of the owner falls in love with the jew being segregated from his familys resort in the fisrt place. The plot is very engaging and the author keeps you on your feet though well thought humor.
LesaHolstine on LibraryThing 3 months ago
A young girl resents the Anti-Semitism at a rsort lodge & spends her life attacking it.
AMcComas12 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This is one of the best books I have read recently. It shows how true love can overcome almost any obstacle. The characters come from very different religous backgrounds. One being Jewish and the other having a family owned Anti-Semitc hotel. The characters met at the wedding then funeral of an old friend. While their backgrounds clash they are able to see each other for who they really are raher than the religous lable they wear.
swl on LibraryThing 3 months ago
If I remember right, this is one of her highest-reviewed books. I read Alice Thrift first (found it thru the Contra Costa book club night, where she spoke) and Bob and I both liked it¿I thought the characters were different and engaging enough to be really fresh. What I loved about this book ¿ I suspected through out that the kernel (the letter stating jews not welcome) had actually occured and burned an indelible path in EL¿s memory, and at the end of the book, it turns out it¿s true ¿ but it happened to her mother or something. Also I love the little bits that are truly rich and unexpected, just little tiny plot bumps that are really creative. Also, the men are wonderful in this book, for all their weaknesses, they are really likeable. Now I¿m thinking about it, I think it was the gentle treatment of all the characters that worked for me ¿ it was charming and uplifting too.
jedisluzer on LibraryThing 4 months ago
Elinor Lipman gives her character such a smart distinctive voice. This is one of those novels that, in the hands of someone else, would just be a romance. I somehow find myself re-reading and re-reading this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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TiBookChatter More than 1 year ago
"It was not complicated, and, as my mother pointed out, not even personal. They had a hotel; they didn't want Jews; we were Jews." So begins the story of young Natalie Marx and her infatuation with the Inn at Lake Devine. Natalie's mother sends an inquiry to the Vermont hotel inquiring about summer accommodations for her and her family, and receives a polite, but firm note back indicating that the hotel does not do business with Jews. Shocked, but intrigued, Natalie wonders about the person who wrote the note and in her own way, stages a rebellion from afar. However, when Natalie discovers that a friend visits the Inn each summer, she realizes that it's a chance of a lifetime and manages to get the family to invite her to join them for the summer. Her parents, knowing how this establishment operates, doesn't want her to go, but her host family insists, so her adventure during that 1960's summer begins. I can't really call this a "coming of age" novel because Natalie has a very strong sense of self, even as a young girl, but as she matures, her sense of self deepens and she seems to understand, or perhaps appreciate her Jewish roots more. Natalie is a pleasure to know. She flounders a bit with her personal life, but she never seems the worse for it and her pragmatic way of dealing with life made for pleasurable reading. I've heard of Elinor Lipman before but have never read any of her books. The Inn at Lake Devine is my first experience with her writing. Her writing is very authentic with a touch of sarcasm thrown in. The writing is humorous, but not overly so. I especially enjoyed her depictions of "family" and the interactions between parent and child. I was also charmed by the setting. A lakeside hotel in Vermont? I'm so there. I could see the porch, the out-buildings and the shimmering lake. It all felt so genuine to me. As far as pace, I breezed through the book and read it in one sitting. There was one spot where it dragged a tad, and got a bit silly, but not enough to make me want to put it down. The first person narrative threw me off a couple of times. I don't read too many novels written in this narrative but it seemed to fit. An interesting tidbit.apparently such a letter existed. Lipman's mother remembered the wording of the letter she received one summer, and it became the inspiration for this story.
joiseygoil More than 1 year ago
Started out great and then died on my. Love the premis and like the writing but it got silly really. These places still remain and will ever be a blight on our society but people are allowed to believe what they will. I wanted a different, more logical ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Easy book....can possibly finish in one afternoon. Good story, enjoyed the characters.