Modern Lit: Isabel’s Bed, by Elinor Lipman

3.0 out of 5 stars The memoirs

When aspiring author Harriet Mahoney signs on to write the memoirs of Isabel Krug, whose lover was shot by his wife while they were in flagrante delicto, she’s ready for a change, and that’s exactly what she gets. Isabel has fled to Cape Cod to escape notoriety, and leads an unconventional life in an unconventional house, with her husband Kostas, a disgraced artist. After a few days, Isabel and Harriet warm to each other, becoming friends as well as collaborators.

What I liked:

  • A la the Seinfeld television series, IB is essentially a novel about not very much. The central theme is the relationship between two women, one excessively conventional and the other excessively quirky. Not much writing is going on, but learning takes place on a consistent basis.
  • It is pleasant to watch their friendship develop.
  • There are four main characters, and I liked Harriet, Isabel, and Pete (the handyman who is the only person on the scene with a grounded sense of reality.)
  • The setting.
  • The occasional surprises.

What I disliked:

  • The character of Kostas, who is extremely narcissistic and just plain obnoxious.
  • The ending, which seemed rushed and “tacked on.”

I listened to the audio version of this novel, and it’s doubtful whether I’d have finished it if reading it in print.


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