On Turpentine Lane, by Elinor Lipman (2017)

On Turpentine Lane by Elinor LipmanI’ve read only one other book by Elinor Lipman, The Inn at Lake Devine, years before I started this blog, but I’ve never forgotten it. That says a lot about her writing, and I happily dove into this new offering. It doesn’t quite measure up to Lake Devine, in my view, but it’s a lovely choice for a bit of escapism in a winter that is sticking around longer than it should! The book opens with 30-something Faith Frankel deciding to buy a little house on, you guessed it, Turpentine Lane. Smitten by the two-storey home complete with a delightful pineapple newel post, Faith soon negotiates the buy from the owner’s distant daughter, as the actual owner, Mrs. Lavoie, is in hospital, having tried to commit suicide. Faith then finds out the woman’s first, second, and third husbands all died in the house. She also learns her father has left the matrimonial home to become an artist, which quickly leads him into an affair with a younger woman, what he calls love he’s never known before. No wonder, then, that Faith is undergoing a fit of doubt about her own love life, since her “fiance” (who tied a red string on her finger rather than presenting an engagement ring) is trekking across the U.S. to find himself, not to mention former girlfriends if his Instagram feed is anything to go by. With the support of a steady co-worker named Nick and her loyal brother Joel, Faith investigates the truth of the history of her new home, leading to an unexpected visit by the police who would like a closer look at those steep cellar stairs… Lipman’s sharp writing and appealing characters, including the delightfully nasty Mrs. Lavoie, results in a funny and tender story that never strays into cloying. My thanks to publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28114543


About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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