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3.7 out of 5 stars33
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Laura Lippmann is my kind of gal and my kind of writer. She is down to earth, loves family, loves women and men, and tries to bring the best and worst of both. She knows and understands how we tick, what we can put up with and what is the limit. She doesn't judge, her women are from all walks of life, and they are the best kind of women, I would want them as my friends.

Helen/Heloise is a woman with a past, a present that is pretty good, but her future is uncertain. She runs a serviice for men, that requires women of a certain nature. That is all well and good, but this service is illegal, no matter how she has covered it. Scott, her son, has no idea what mom does, he is a sweet natured kid taking his mom for granted, just loving her. Helen's past is about to catch up with her, and she needs to protect Scott, her business and her life. To the outside eye she is a single mom, working hard and has no time for friends. But, we all get to uncover the real Helen, and we get to love her more.

Laura Lippmann is a superb writer, we all read her books. Her characters are first rate, like you and me, meant to be real people. However, they all have such wretched problems. But, these women are bright, intelligent, beautiful and have a sense of humor. They will get by, and even though it looks dicey at times, we all learn from them. Lippmann researches all of her characters and their businesses, and their lives. She imparts that wisdom, we are the lucky ones who get to learn from her.

Recommended. prisrob 04-25-13
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 August 2012
Set aside any prejudices you may have and settle in for a fast-paced intriguing story centering on a woman who does whatever she believes must be done in order to keep her son safe. This is a woman many would consider reprehensible or an object of sick humor, yet Edgar-winner Lippman paints an intensely compelling, commiserative portrait of her. We find ourselves rooting for Heloise Lewis, the proprietor of a successful call-girl service.

The setting is suburban Maryland, a residential area called Turner's Grove, which is a far cry from where Heloise grew up. The daughter of an abusive father and a mother who did nothing to protect her she believed the first person who showed her any kindness.. At the age of 16 she met Billy and thought they were in love, eventually she ran away with him thinking he would take care of her. But he was an addict, deeply in debt. "She got a job dancing" bringing all the money home, "and Billy, instead of paying the debts he owed, put it up his nose." She had no place to go. When she had called home to tell her father she was in Maryland and planning to marry, "..her father had called her a whore and slammed down the phone."

It was a long way from the room in a broken-down motel with Billy and the road was rough - from working for a pimp, Val Deluca, who is also the father of her son, Scott, to running her own call-girl service. A very profitable one. Her neighbors in Turner's Grove believed she was a young widow who kept very much to herself but never missed one of Scott's soccer games or picking him up at school. Heloise files taxes as a lobbyist, fighting for income parity with an agency called Women's Full Employment Network.

Val, not knowing he is Scott's father is in jail, given away by Heloise. But, he may be released from prison. And, there is the recent death of another Suburban Madam. It's ruled a suicide, but is it? Heloise fears she is in danger as well but again she has nowhere to go and no one to whom she can turn.

As a former reporter Lippman researched the world of sex workers and she brings that world to frightening life as well as penning a remarkable original story of a strong, assertive woman who is fearless in creating a life for herself and her son.
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on 11 September 2012
3.5/5

I'm a long time fan of author Laura Lippman and her Tess Monaghan series. But Lippman has written a number of stand alone novels that I've really enjoyed as well. Every book is an adventure as you're never quite sure what to expect from this award winning author.

When I read the opening chapters of And When She Was Good, I felt like I had already met the protagonist - Heloise. On further investigation I found I had. Lippman contributed a story to an anthology called Death Do Us Part in 2006 that featured Heloise - a high end prostitute.

Heloise is now a madam - running her own service. She's a single mom to twelve year old Scott. To everyone in her suburban neighbourhood, she's a widow who works as a lobbyist for wage parity. But in her basement office, she runs a successful and elite escort service. And she's very, very careful to keep the parts of her life separated. But the past has a way of catching up.....

Lippman has written a book that has mystery, crime and suspense elements to it. And they're good, but not edge of your seat stuff. (Who the bad guy is is fairly obvious) The basic premise of the book has been done before, but Lippman's exploration of prostitution does generate lots of food for thought.

Instead, it was Heloise's story that was the big draw. We follow her life from a teen in a dysfunctional family, to a young woman falling in with the wrong man, to working for a really wrong man and to the birth of her son. And the desire to protect him at all costs. Heloise intrigued me - her instinct to survive, her strength and her drive were admirable. I applauded her 'do what you have to do attitude', but unfortunately, I just found I never really liked her. But I did enjoy her story, although I found the ending a little too neatly tied up.

I'm still a big fan of Lippman, but this latest offering was not the best of the bunch for this reader.
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on 10 July 2013
Don't you love it when you read a novel that has you staying awake to finish it? This is the story of Helen, and goes back to the past in order to explain her current situation. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, although I felt you only really learnt about one character in depth, and I would have liked to know more about how her son felt. This truly is an exceptional tale of a strong, determined woman who overcomes all the troubles in her life in order to make a big change.
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on 20 April 2013
Although it felt that nothing happened for long stretches of this novel, when things did happen they were executed perfectly. You may think this would lead to a boring read, but And When She Was Good is far from boring.

The main character, Helen/Heloise (Hel?) seems so sure of herself for the majority of this book, and i'd be lying if I didn't admit that the ending was the best part - but that's because Hel stopped being so superior and aloof and putting everyone down. It took her being out-smarted - seriously out-smarted - to seemingly get a grip.

When it comes to other characters, they seem a little like an afterthought. Hel's father made my blood boil and I guess that's why she is how she is. He is a nasty and selfish man who quickly engendered feelings of hatred from me, as I am sure he was meant to. Hel's mother seemed quite timid and unsure - she was so in love, but with that monster? It didn't seem to fit that she could be that naive for her whole life.

Overall I thought it a good enough read. It's not one of my favourites and for being a mystery there isn't much mystery at all, but it was nevertheless enjoyable and interesting.

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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on 1 August 2013
Heloise appears to be an affluent, widowed, working mother. However, she not only has a past that she keeps secret, but her true occupation is also kept from her neighbours, other mothers and most importantly her son. When her two worlds appear to be on a collision course everything is at risk including her life.
A stunning book, I will be buying more by Laura Lippman.
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on 1 September 2013
It was a bit 'preachy' for me. The story didn't move fast enough. An undercurrent was created through narrative, but there was a lot of narrative, which meant too little action - too much telling rather than showing. I thought the premise on which the main character compartmentalised her two lives, and was able to keep them so completely separate, was unreasonable
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on 20 March 2013
I never thought I'd be gunning for a madam, but the main character in this book is just that, and despite that, she is an incredibly likeable woman, who makes you wonder if this wasn't exactly what you would do if your life collapsed as a teenager, as hers did. She'll do anything for her son, and when dangers from the past re-appear, that's what she has to do. Well, I say "likeable", but perhaps "admirable" would be more accurate. I love Laura Lippman, and would rate this with her best. Again, I'd say it's definitely a book for the girls.
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on 23 July 2013
I was not sure about the subject content of this book as I started to read it. However the main character is well thought out and sympathetically portrayed and soon I was getting involved in her story. The story jumps around a bit time wise but this does not detract and indeed, adds depth. Towards the end I just wanting to keep reading to find out how on earth this story was going to end. No spoilers ........read it for yourself. You won't be disappointed! Now want to read more by this author. This is a very good read.
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on 2 February 2013
I liked the storyline which made for an unusual and interesting subject, but the book failed to grip me. Somehow, I didn't care about the main protagonist, she appeared very one dimensional and lacking in feelings and emotions. The book was quite long and I kept reading until the end, hoping the characters would come to life, but was disappointed. A pity, as it could have been a great story. It read more like an account of events than a book I could get lost in.
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