Alice Teakle grows on you. In the beginning of Following Polly by Karen Bergreen, I thought Alice was pathetic and weird; I wasn’t sure I liked her. Her preoccupation, not to say, hobby, is following an old school mate, who is now a major celebrity. She seems particularly adept at sabotaging herself and any success she might achieve in work or family life.
As Alice’s life starts to fall apart and she is the prime suspect in first one then another murder, I really began to respect her resourcefulness. Alice turns out to be amazingly adept at hiding from the police, and surviving on the streets.
No matter how bad things ge, Alice is funny and smart (she also has a photographic memory). She is definitely not a stereotypical heroine and the plot’s trajectory is not predictable.
Recently retired and living a quiet and elegant life on the Upper West Side in New York City, Henry Archer unexpectedly gets a second chance with his step-daughter, someone he hasn’t seen for 25 years. Somehow these opposites – Henry is older, gay, successful, Thalia is an aspiring actress just scraping by – make a connection that benefits them both. Thalia brings sparkle and excitement into Henry’s world, as well as more than a few complications including the reappearance of his eccentric ex-wife, an introduction to the world of celebrity and a new love interest.
Lipman is the master of the modern comedy-of-manners story – her characters are real and likable (even the annoying ones), and the dialogue is sharp, witty and fast-paced. The situations our heroes find themselves in may be unlikely, but Lipman grounds them in reality and gives them heart. The Family Man will keep you laughing and wishing for more.