Cover image for Good riddance : a novel
Title:
Good riddance : a novel
ISBN:
9780544808256
Physical Description:
290 pages ; 22 cm.
Summary:
Daphne Maritch doesn't quite know what to make of the heavily annotated high school yearbook she inherits from her mother, who held this relic dear. Too dear. The late June Winter Maritch was the teacher to whom the class of '69 had dedicated its yearbook, and in turn she went on to attend every reunion, scribbling notes and observations after each one--not always charitably--and noting who overstepped boundaries of many kinds. In a fit of decluttering (the yearbook did not, Daphne concluded, "spark joy"), she discards it when she moves to a small New York City apartment. But when it's found in the recycling bin by a busybody neighbor/documentary filmmaker, the yearbook's mysteries--not to mention her own family's--take on a whole new urgency, and Daphne finds herself entangled in a series of events both poignant and absurd. --
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Summary

Summary

"Effortlessly charming . . . The book inspires a very specific kind of modern joy."
-- New York Times Book Review

The delightful new romantic comedy from Elinor Lipman, in which one woman's trash becomes another woman's treasure, with deliriously entertaining results.

Daphne Maritch doesn't quite know what to make of the heavily annotated high school yearbook she inherits from her mother, who held this relic dear. Too dear. The late June Winter Maritch was the teacher to whom the class of '68 had dedicated its yearbook, and in turn she went on to attend every reunion, scribbling notes and observations after each one--not always charitably--and noting who overstepped boundaries of many kinds.

In a fit of decluttering (the yearbook did not, Daphne concluded, "spark joy"), she discards it when she moves to a small New York City apartment. But when it's found in the recycling bin by a busybody neighbor/documentary filmmaker, the yearbook's mysteries--not to mention her own family's--take on a whole new urgency, and Daphne finds herself entangled in a series of events both poignant and absurd.

Good Riddance is a pitch-perfect, whip-smart new novel from an "enchanting, infinitely witty yet serious, exceptionally intelligent, wholly original, and Austen-like stylist" ( Washington Post ).


Author Notes

Author of novels and short stories, Elinor Lipman was born October 16, 1950 in Lowell, Mass. and earned an B.A. from Simmons College.

After college, Lipman worked as a public information officer for the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission. She also worked as a managing editor for the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and she was a special instructor in communications at Simmons College. She served as visiting assistant professor of creative writing from at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass.

Titles of her works include "Into Love and Out Again", "Then She Found Me", "The Way Men Act", "The Inn at Lake Devine", and "Isabel's Bed"'. Her work has been included in anthologies such as New Fiction, and she has frequently contributed stories and reviews to magazines and newspapers, including Cosmopolitan, Wigwag, New York Times, and Playgirl. She is a two-time recipient of distinguished story citations in Best American Short Stories.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Lipman's satisfying latest is a worthy addition to her long lineup of smart, witty novels. When Daphne Maritch throws away the marked-up yearbook her late mother (the advisor to whom it was dedicated) left her, she unleashes a series of events that will change her life forever. After leaving the yearbook in her New York City apartment building's recycling bin, Daphne's eccentric and annoying neighbor Geneva Wisenkorn, a self-proclaimed filmmaker, nabs it, weirdly intent on transforming it into a documentary. When the two attend the class of '68's reunion in her hometown of Pickering, N.H., Daphne learns a long-held family secret: one of her mother's former students, Peter Armstrong, is her biological father. To complicate matters, Daphne's father, Tom-a retired high school principal-has just moved to New York, begins working as a dog walker, and meets a charming Manhattanite who might just end up being Daphne's stepmother. And he's not giving his daughter up easily. In a lesser writer's hands, the plot could have devolved into a soapy mess, but Lipman ably turns it into a charming romantic comedy. Lipman (On Turpentine Lane) complements Daphne, Tom, and Geneva with a stellar cast of supporting characters (especially Jeremy, the sexy actor across the hall) and intelligent and lyrical prose, making this novel a delightful treat readers will want to savor. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, WME Entertainment. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

Clutching the copy of the 1968 Pickering High School yearbook her late mother bequeathed her to her chest and finding that it did not give her joy, Daphne followed the latest decluttering lifestyle advice and tossed it into her building's recycling bin, heartfelt student dedications and her mother's cryptic notes about members of the senior class notwithstanding. When Daphne's nosy neighbor, ersatz filmmaker Geneva, rescues it with plans to create a documentary around the yearbook's murky origins and codes, Daphne's sense of remorse kicks in. An epic struggle for ownership ensues, one that will find Daphne and Geneva unlikely attendees at the Class of '68's fiftieth-anniversary reunion, where one former student presents Daphne with life-altering news. The question of who gets to tell one's own story lies at the heart of Lipman's (On Turpentine Lane, 2017) smart, sassy, and satisfying rom-com. Luckily for fans of contemporary women's fiction, the answer is Lipman as she once again delivers a tightly woven, lightly rendered, but insightfully important novel of the pitfalls to be avoided and embraced on one's path to self-discovery.--Carol Haggas Copyright 2018 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

ELINOR LIPMAN'S LATEST NOVEL Opens with its heroine, Daphne Maritch, decluttering the small Manhattan apartment she's moved into after a brief, bad marriage. Following advice from a magazine article, she holds an item left to her by her mother, June, to her chest to determine whether it inspires joy. It's a 1968 yearbook from Pickering High School in New Hampshire, where her mother taught English. June used it obsessively and weirdly as a repository for her opinions about the class; Daphne sees it as "testimony to the unsympathetic, snarky side of my mother's character." She throws it in the recycling bin. Let's pause here to admire Lipman's timing from a marketing perspective, even if it's entirely inadvertent. Which it must have been, unless the author has a friend at Netflix who whispered in her ear that, in the deep of winter 2019, Netflix would have a new hit reality series about decluttering. That show, "Tidying Up With Marie Kondo," starring the best-selling Japanese author and pixie clean girl, created a national wave of decluttering within days of its release in January. "Good Riddance" addresses a question possibly plaguing some of the freshly divested: What if I threw out the wrong thing? Daphne's frowzy neighbor, Geneva Wisenkorn, plucks the discarded Monadnockian (a perfectly normal yearbook name in New England) from the recycling in their Hell's Kitchen building. From a keeping-family-secrets perspective, it couldn't have fallen into worse hands. An aspiring filmmaker with a poster of "Capturing the Friedmans" on her wall, Geneva wants to make the yearbook the subject of her next documentary (which would be her second, at best, since her first can't be found anywhere). The Monadnockian's staff dedicated the yearbook to June, who was just 23 and their adviser. In turn she dedicated herself to them, attending every reunion from the fifth to the 45 th and annotating the volume with bitchy commentary ("Looks older than I do" was a favorite) and mysterious symbols. Geneva is inspired by this road map to learn June's secrets. When the generally incurious Daphne figures that out, she tries to get the yearbook back and, in the process, discovers more about her pretty, vain mother than she wants to. The premise, which delves into questions of Daphne's parentage as well as her romantic past and future, is old-fashioned, sometimes to a point requiring some generosity from the reader. Daphne's ex-husband, Holden, a dissolute WASP, apparently pursued her only so that he could receive an inheritance. (If that was really a requirement, why not find a more economically attractive mate, and one game to the deal from the get-go?) Daphne comes across as a bit primly Victorian, prickly and unyielding. But Lipman dresses the plot up with contemporary cultural touches. Daphne's new love interest is another neighbor, Jeremy, a lanky 25-yearold actor with a steady gig playing a high school student on "Riverdale." The role requires him to wear fake braces as part of his method acting. Whenever he comes on to Daphne, charmingly and often, I pictured Pete Davidson, leering pleasantly. Then there's Daphne's father, Tom, once a principal at Pickering High, now a widower, who moves to New York and embraces big-city living with the wholesome glee of a sitcom character. "Good Riddance" is a caper novel, light as a feather and effortlessly charming. It will not save lives or enrich them in an enduring way (as Marie Kondo can do; two years in, my sock drawer can attest to that). But the book inspires a very specific kind of modern joy. I read it fast, in a weekend, during which I did not find my social media accounts or tidying my house nearly as diverting as what was on these pages. Being more attractive than Twitter may sound like a low bar, but in these distractible times, it feels like a genuine achievement. The heroine's mother annotated her yearbook with petty comments and strange symbols. mary POLS, the author of a memoir, "Accidentally on Purpose," is editor of Maine Women magazine.


Kirkus Review

Daphne Maritch has no idea why her mother, a popular New Hampshire high school teacher, left her a heavily annotated yearbook for the class of 1968but she's about to find out whether she wants to or not.As Lipman's latest comic novel (On Turpentine Lane, 2017, etc.) opens, Daphne is attempting to declutter her apartment according to the principles of a bestselling book: Hold each item to your heart and ask "does this thing inspire joy?" Despite her mother's obsession with the class of '68she was their teacher and yearbook adviser fresh out of college, then attended their reunions for decadesthe answer with regard to their yearbook is a firm no, and she pitches the thing out. Unfortunately, one of the neighbors in her New York apartment building is both a dedicated trash-picker and an aspiring filmmaker. This neighbor lays claim to the yearbook, convinced that she can base a fascinating documentary on research into the fates of this group of 60-somethings. Daphne's belated attempts to derail the project, which seems to have the potential to reveal her dead mother's secrets, lead to all sorts of madcap adventures. She enlists another neighbor, a sexy young TV actor, in her efforts; she takes a trip to this year's reunion with the documentary filmmaker; she desperately tries to insulate her father, erstwhile principal of the same high school, now a widowed dog-walker in Manhattan, from the whole project and its revelations. It's pretty silly, and very contrived, but this author has a black belt in silly contrivance and a faithful horde of fans who are looking for just that. Au courant elements like an investigative podcast serial, the television show Riverdale, and online courses for becoming a chocolatier add a fresh twist to the proceedings.Lipman's narrative brio keeps things moving at a good clip. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal Review

Refashioning her post-divorce life, Daphne Maritch registers for an online chocolatier course, bonds with her TV actor neighbor, and zealously declutters her miniscule Manhattan apartment. Thus, a 1968 high school yearbook bequeathed by Daphne's late mother (but consigned to the recycling bin when it failed to spark joy) is now in the clutches of refuse--rummaging neighbor Geneva, who declares it "found art." Geneva envisions filming a where-are-they-now documentary follow-ing students who knew Daphne's parents as principal and English teacher in their small New Hampshire town. Only now does Daphne imagine what an outsider might make of the vintage album's extensive margin notes: symbols, numbers, and trenchant observations inscribed over the years by her mother. These be-token a decades-old secret that could emerge if certain questions are asked, including why Dad never went to reunions while Mom compulsively attended them. Narrator Mia Barron, tone-perfect as wry Daphne and outrageous Geneva, also transitions seamlessly among the supporting cast, enlivening Lipman's (Turpentine Lane) signature eccentric characters, spiky wit, and sparkling dialog. Verdict A treat for Lipman followers, this romantic comedy/caper will divert anyone seeking clever but warmhearted fiction (e.g., Cathleen Schine), as well as fans of classic screwball comedies. Ideal for public libraries. ["Funny, warm, sharp, smart, and full of love for family, no matter how flawed": LJ 12/18 review of the Houghton Harcourt hc.]-Linda Sappenfield, Round Rock P.L., TX © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

1 The Grateful Class of '68 For a few weeks after my mother's death, I was in possession of the painstakingly annotated high school year-book that had been dedicated to her by the grateful class of 1968. Yes, she'd been their English teacher and yearbook advisor, but that didn't explain her obsessive collecting of signatures and tributes next to every senior's photo.  I could picture her -- age twenty-three, her first job after college, roaming the corridors of Pickering High School, pen and book in hand, coaxing the shyest, least engaged boy or girl to sign -- Write anything.  I want to remember every one of you. Could you personalize it, just a few words? But there would be more -- her own embellishments, her judgments and opinions, written next to those photos in her small legible hand, a different color ink (red, green, blue) for several milestone reunions, which she attended compulsively, starting with the fifth and continuing until her last, their forty-fifth. Her margin notes were coded but easily deciphered: "M" for married. "S" for single. "D" for dead; "DIV" for divorced. "DWI," said a few. "AIDS?" suggested one notation. "Same dress she wore at 15th" my mother recorded. "Very plump" was one of her milder put-downs. "Braces." "Pregnant." Occasionally, "Still pretty." "Looks older than I do" was one of her favorite notes. "Still holds PHS record for 100-yd. dash," said one. And "danced w. him" appeared often. Had I known about this project as it was happening? I hadn't. Several reunions were held before I was born, and later ones, at-tended even after she retired, weren't discussed with her two daughters. After all, we might know some of these graduates as the parents of our friends or our own teachers or custodians or police officers or panhandlers, townspeople still. A handwritten codicil on the last page of my mother's will said, "My daughter Daphne will take possession of the Pickering High School's yearbook, The Monadnockian." And nothing more. I took it back with me to Manhattan, where it stayed on my shelf for a month until I read a magazine article about decluttering. The test? Would I ever reread this novel, these college text-books, these magazines? Did I really need a Portuguese-English dictionary? What about the panini press and my dead Black-Berry? The expert recommended this: Hold the item in question, be it book or sweater or socks or muffin tin, to your chest, over your heart, and ask yourself, Does this thing inspire joy? I hugged the yearbook. Nothing. Well, not nothing; worse than that: an aversion. Apparently, I didn't want, nor would I miss, this testimony to the unsympathetic, snarky side of my mother's character. The best-selling decluttering wizard said the property owner had to be tough, even ruthless.  I certainly was that.  Good-bye, ugly white-vinyl, ink-stained yearbook with your put-downs and your faint smell of mildew! Maybe it was my mother's legacy and a time capsule, but it had failed to stir emotion in my bosom. Possessing too much stuff anyway, in a cramped apartment, book-shelves overflowing, I threw it out. Or rather, being a good citizen, I walked  it  down  the  hall  to  my  building's  trash  closet, straight into the recycling bin. 2 Okay, Listen I'd never met Geneva Wisekorn despite our residing at opposite ends of the same hallway. Our introduction came in the form of a note slipped under my door announcing, "I found something that belongs to you. Are you home?" followed by an email address and phone, office, and mobile numbers. My wallet? My keys? I checked my pocketbook. All there. Had a misdelivered piece of mail or dropped glove been traced back to me? I went to my laptop and wrote to this seemingly thoughtful stranger, asking what possession of mine she'd found. She wrote back immediately. "A high school yearbook.  We need to talk!" No, we didn't. I hit reply and wrote, "Thanks anyway, but I recycled that," then added a postscript -- "It has no meaning or value, sentimental or otherwise" -- in case she was looking for a reward. "Contact info?" she answered. My first mistake: I sent it. Immediately, my phone rang. After my wary "Hello," I heard, "I think you'll be very interested in what I have to say." I asked how she knew the yearbook, which I now decided I needed back, belonged to me. "Because I found it with magazines that had your name on the subscription labels." I said, "I'd never forgive myself if a yearbook with all that personal stuff written in it got into the hands of a stranger." "Then why'd you throw it out?" "I thought it would go to some landfill! Or get turned into what-ever recycled paper gets turned into." "I know the rules. If it's trash left at the curbside or at the dump, the possessor has relegated ownership." The possessor has relegated ownership? Was I talking to this ragpicker's lawyer? "Finders keepers, in other words?" "Precisely."   Excerpted from Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.