A hysterical phone call from Henry Archer's ex-wife and a familiar face in a photograph upend his well-ordered life and bring him back into contact with the child he adored, a short-term step-daughter from a misbegotten marriage long ago. Henry is a lawyer, an old-fashioned man, gay, successful, lonely. Thalia is now twenty-nine, an actress-hopeful, estranged from her newly widowed, eccentric mother- Denise, Henry's ex. Hoping it will lead to better things for her career, Thalia agrees to pose as the girlfriend of a horror-movie luminary who is down on his romantic luck. When Thalia and her complicated social life move into Henry's Upper West Side townhouse, she finds a champion in her long-lost father, and he finds a new life- and maybe even a new love- in the commotion.
This is the first Elinor Lipman book I have read, recommended to me by a friend. Elinor creates memorable characters, the fatherly Henry, out of his comfort zone, Thalia, his larger than life step-daughter, and the annoying but ultimately likable Denise. Denise barges back into Henry's life after the death of her husband, whom she left Henry for. Her husband died one year before the expiration of their 25 year old pre-nup and her step-sons are cutting her out. Henry reluctantly becomes her only confidant, while trying to build a relationship with Thalia. This book is light, witty, and sharp. There is also Todd, a potential new love for Henry and Leif, the actor hiring Thalia to pose as his fiance. It is humorous and whimsical. An easy and enjoyable read for a Saturday afternoon. It's hard to put down once you start. There are so many brilliant scenes that make the reader laugh. Now I just have to decide what will be my next Elinor read.