CRM Review: Elinor Lipman’s “On Turpentine Lane”

Seriously fun reading!

The Premise

Faith Frankel is kind of at loose ends. She’s returned to her small Massachusetts hometown, and has a job writing generic thank-you notes for the private day school she attended. She thinks she’s engaged — no ring, just a string — but her fiancé is off ‘finding himself’ on a walk across America. A walk that seems to include a lot of ex-girlfriends and very little of Faith (at least until she cuts up his credit card).

But then Faith decides to buy a house, and finds the perfect little bungalow, a real fixer-upper with tons of charm. On Turpentine Lane. And suddenly her life isn’t so steady and mundane.

Faith is dealing with her witless fiancé, an idiot boss, a well-intentioned-but-overly-involved  mother, and a father in the midst of an artistic reawakening. Throw in the secrets and mysteries of the new house . . . life on Turpentine Lane is giving Faith a headache!

Thank goodness for her wonderful office mate, Nick Franconi, whose steady, affable presence and ability to swoop in and save the day makes him indispensable.

As Faith settles in on Turpentine Lane, she finds that maybe her life needed to be turned upside down, giving her a chance to put things in order.

My Thoughts

I read quite a few deep, thoughtful books —  LITERATURE — and I love many of them. The writing is beautiful, the characters deeply flawed and well developed, the symbolism and subtexts deep and plentiful. They put my literature degree to use, and make me want to write literary reviews and scholarly papers on the beauty and deep ideas I discovered within their covers.

And then there are the other books I love. Books that don’t pull me as deep, that don’t make my mind reel, that don’t make me ‘think.’ They’re just as necessary as capital L LITERATURE.

On Turpentine Lane is one of those books. And I loved it!

This is the best kind of ‘brain candy,’ witty and sweet, quirky and easy. The characters are smart and funny and very likable, the plot twisty and interesting but not overwhelming. On Turpentine Lane is perfect fun reading: easy reading but not dumbed down, romantic and funny without beating the reader over the head with it.

I couldn’t help but like Faith Frankel, a character just flawed enough and complex enough to carry the mantel of main character. She shares this title a bit with the house and its history, but Faith’s dealings with that history and her own present are what drive the story.

And there’s just enough romance, just enough family, just enough romance, to make it interesting.

I loved On Turpentine Lane. The characters were deep enough and just flawed enough to be realistic. Yes, there is more than the usual craziness and turbulence in Faith’s life (at least all at once), but it’s still realistic turbulence. It made me laugh and smile and sigh without great effort, which was what I needed at the time.

So no, it’s not high Literature. But it is perfect none-the-less. Fun and funny, quirky and witty, easy and readable. The perfect beach or rainy day read, one that won’t be easy to put down — but will be easy to pick back up. On Turpentine Lane is perfect.

I received an advanced digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Book Details

Title: On Turpentine Lane

Author: Elinor Lipman

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pages: 320 pages (read on my Kindle as an ARC)

ISBN/ASIN: 9780544808249/B01912OYK4




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