The Pursuit of Alice Thrift by Elinor Lipman

The Pursuit of Alice Thrift by Elinor Lipman
paperback 304 pages
published by HarperPerennial in 2003
ISBN13: 9780007161201

Type: {Weekend Read: a book to curl up on the couch with}
Rating: {I’m Lovin’ It: Very entertaining!}

Why You’re Reading It:

  • You are a fan of Elinor Lipman (this will not disappoint)
  • You enjoy subtle humor
  • Fleshed out characters are meaningful to you
  • You’re looking for an original plotted novel to read

What I Thought:

Alice Thrift is the female equivalent to Sheldon Cooper, however Elinor Lipman has made her more human and less humorous. Not to say that this book isn’t full of humor, only that it’s subtle and not everyone will see it. In fact, it is quite funny and I recommend listening to it in the author’s careful, east coast accent to get the full effect. Once you get used to her (seemingly) monotone way of speaking you realize that it is actually quite perfect for the tone of the book and understand that no one could have done it better. Because, honestly, the tone of the reader can make or break the comedy involved in this work.

While interning in surgery at a Boston hospital, Alice Thrift meets Ray Russo when he comes in for a nose job. She has no idea how life changing this will be for her. This is not a Cinderella story, she does not turn from being a mousy, highly intellectual with social issues to a beautiful, gregarious woman just from meeting Russo. Rather, because of him, a series of events are set in motion that cause Alice to step out of her somewhat tight bubble of a world and take a second look at herself. Alice is not a person who is capable of changing in drastic ways, and I applaud Lipman for staying true to Alice’s character, yet the subtle change in Alice makes all the difference as she builds relationships; first with her roommate Leo, then with her neighbor Sylvie and eventually with her mother and strangers.

What happens with Ray will make you cringe, gag, and keep turning pages to see how Alice will react. Getting to know Alice’s family and her new friends will warm you and remind you that everyone’s family is a little nuts. Seeing the world through Alice’s eyes will charm you. If this were a movie it would be an Indie cult favorite, but it’s not a movie (at least not yet) so go grab the audio book and get to listening. I’ll wait right here to see what you think.

16 thoughts on “The Pursuit of Alice Thrift by Elinor Lipman

  1. I am going to keep trying to like Eleanor Lipman. I tried this book a while back and for whatever reason – I think I thought it was going to be something else – I didn’t like it. I’m going to go back and take another look. I do have one Lipman book here that was very highly recommended by…I think, Nancy Pearl, title: THE INN AT LAKE DEVINE. Been meaning to read it but…you know how it is.

    • I can see how not everyone would like Lipman. I happen to enjoy her, but I also was put off by this book at first. It took a few chapters for me to get into it. I’ve also heard that The Inn at Lake Devine is quite good… it’s on my to-read list!

    • Well, that shouldn’t take long at the rate you’re reading this year! Seriously though… am looking forward to hearing what you think of it. It takes place in Beantown so that will be fun for you.

    • I’ve only read The Family Man and The Pursuit of Alice Thrift. I’m glad I started with The Family Man. However, a lot of people know her from The Inn at Lake Devine and Then She Found Me (both of which are on my to-read list).

  2. Pingback: My Favorite Reads During 2011 « Unputdownables

  3. I’ve read Elinor Lipman’s “The Pursuit of Alice Thrift”. I loved it. I am hopelessly trying to find another book same. Elinor Lipman’s other books havn’t interested me apart from “The Way Men Act”, however its slow to get into. Do you have any ideas of similar books? Thanks

    • I really enjoy listening to Elinor Lipman’s books (she has great readers). I can’t really think of anyone in her style… maybe Norah Ephron’s books? I haven’t read them but they are on my list. I love her movies, so I’m sure her books are great too. Most are non-fiction, but supposedly quite funny and smart.

      • I will give that a go. she has a fiction book called “Heartburn” which sounds good. I like the Pursuit of Alice Thrift because its funny witty and cleverley written. I like how Alice is quite innocent too.

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