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The View from Penthouse B Paperback – 8 Apr 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (8 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0544228073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0544228078
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 622,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 April 2013
Format: Hardcover
Gwen was the brown eyed sister, between two blonde, blue eyed beauties. Her father called her his 'beauty', and she later learned 'the rose between the thorns'.

Gwen is a widow and wears her mourning on her sleeve. Margot, her sister is newly divorced from a husband who' s in jail for fraud. Charles, the husband, a gynecologist, was an Infertility Speialist, and on several occasions he provided the fertility in a vigorous fashion. When one of his 'patients' became pregnant with his child, well,all He** broke lose. In the settlement, Margo bought a penthouse apartment , and lost the rest of her monies to a Madoff-like venture. She needs financial assistance, and Gwen moves in, paying her way. They have an interesting but dull life, neither has a job, but they muddle on. One day, a young Gay man, enters their existence. He rents the small room in the penthouse, and provides laughs and fun times.

As this novel moves along, the on-line dating world is discussed. Gwen opens a friends-only sort of dating site. Margo has a blog and meets a man. Charles, Margo's husband leaves jail and moves into a small apartment in their building. Margo and Charles attempt to revive their relationship, Gwen finds a companion, and their world starts to turn. Anthony is still looking for his man.

This novel was a disappointment in some ways. There is a storyline that is quite inventive, but it doesn't really move me. Margo and Gwen felt like they were stuck in the 80's, not the 50 year olds, I know. Anthony is a true soul, and the life of the novel, but his story does not go very far. I guess I expected more.

Recommended. prisrob 04-24-13
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've loved every book by Elinor Lipman ever since The Inn at Lake Devine, back in the day. And this is no exception. As always, it's generously sprinkled with Ms Lipman's sharp wit, warm-hearted humour and wisdom. The plot is delicious.

Narrator Gwen-Laura has recently been widowed (well, actually her husband died two years ago - but to her it's recent) and she's been invited to live with older sister Margot at her retro-stylish New York penthouse. Margot is, in fact, broke. Having received a substantial alimony payment from her ex-husband (currently residing in jail for a crime that's a bit too complicated to go into), she invested - and lost - the whole lot in Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme. The two sisters are struggling to make ends meet. Perhaps they should take in another flat-mate to share the costs? Enter young Anthony, gay, funny, kind - and online-dating-savvy. Not only does he guide Gwen and Margo around Craigslist in an effort to improve their romantic status, but he also makes fabulous cupcakes....

Read it, you'll love it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 162 reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
A pleasure to join this likable cast of characters for a part of their lives 11 Mar. 2013
By Suzanne Amara - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
From the first book by Elinor Lipman I read, I was hooked. It's hard to exactly explain why I like her writing so much. At a few points during this book, I was thinking "I can't give this 5 stars like I want to. It's got too many flaws. The plot is meandering, there are too many characters brought in and not fully developed, there isn't enough of a story to merit the length of the book..." and then, upon finishing, I decided that the most important part of a novel is how much you enjoy reading it, and the hours I spent reading this book were happy, content hours.

The basic story---Margot and Gwen-Laura are sisters, who find themselves both alone for very different reasons. Margot's doctor husband is in prison after a scandal, and Gwen was suddenly widowed. They move in together to save money, and take in a third roommate, the affable Anthony. Slowly, they both move to new starts, to figuring out life and romance in the 21st century. There isn't much more plot than that.

But the point of Lipman's book, and others of hers I have read, isn't plot. It's humor and character. The characters are deeply real. They have something most book characters don't have, and I wish I could put my fingers on it a little more. It's a humility, a lack of superhero-ness. They seem to think like I would think, not in the know-it-all way that many book characters seem to think. They are nervous about dating, about intimacy. They have actual money problems. They like to eat out and to talk about the meals. They laugh at themselves. And they are generally just plain likable people. Even the "bad" guys in her books are human, are good at the core. Reading her books makes me feel a little better about the world. I am able to believe that Margot and Gwen and Anthony are actually out there someplace, that I could meet them and I would like to do so. And so, I enjoyed this book immensely.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Starting Over 9 Mar. 2013
By Susan Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
3.5 stars
It's hard to start over anytime but it can be quite tricky in your 50's. This is what the two sisters, Margot and Gwen, must do when their lives take a major downturn. They do it with humor, love and mutual self-support. Margot divorces her husband, a doctor, after he is embroiled in a major sex scandal that sends him to prison. To add insult to injury, she loses most of hr money to the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scam. Gwen's husband dies unexpectedly and she can't seem to move on.

Although Margot holds on to her penthouse apartment, the sisters are cash poor and unemployed. They take in a room-mate, Anthony, who brings youth (he's in his 20's), cupcakes and sage male advice. They get into each other's business and are cheerleaders when they all start to take baby steps to rebuilding their lives.

It's wonderful to read about women who are not obsessed with their looks, have a sense of of humor and want something more in life. It drags a little in the middle but is very heart warming too. It's a nice, light read.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Widowhood, cupcakes and Bernie Madoff 10 Mar. 2013
By Jill I. Shtulman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The one thing about picking up an Elinor Lipman novel is, you can be pretty sure what to expect from the get-go.

You know the writing will be confident, breezy, and compulsively readable. You know her characters will be good-hearted, a little on the socially awkward style, and ready for some self-growth. And you know you're going to get absorbed in the narrative and the wit, and really get emotionally invested in the eventual turnout.

So if you're an Elinor Lipman fan, this book is another reason to rejoice. The book centers on Gwen-Laura, a widow of a certain age who has been unable to move on since her husband's unexpected death two years ago. She ends up moving in with her sister Margot, is a victim twice: her husband, an infertility doctor, was sent to the Big House after the discovery that he was "doing the horizontal dance" with his patients...and she also lost most of her savings to Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi scheme.

Add in a few other characters: their third boarder Anthony, a young, gay unemployed charmer who makes to-die-for cupcakes, his sister Olivia, a nanny who has fallen in love with her employer, and a third sister Betsy who dispenses advice from the wings, and there are some great twists and turns ahead.

Far be it from me to spoil any of them! Suffice to say that the novel is surprisingly touching, with much to say about moving forward through grief and bad times, experiencing forgiveness, getting in touch with one's authentic self, and discovering that "family" can mean more than just next-of-kin. And, for anyone who has been through the online dating wars, there are hilarious "tales from the front."

For those who are seeking deeper insights into the characters, you won't find a whole lot of that here. But for those who want a lighthearted story that's deliciously put together and will keep you interested and entertained, this is a book you can sink your teeth into. Definitely recommended.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I enjoyed it -- but it won't win a Pulitzer 26 May 2013
By Jane D. Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an easy read. The situations are interesting, the characters amusing, even though it's all predictable. Still, it's fun to sit back and read something that has some easy laughs and isn't very demanding. I would recommend this book if you are over-stressed by your own situations in life and you need to kick back and smile.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
"We have to move forward." 3 Mar. 2013
By E. Bukowsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Elinor Lipman's "The View from Penthouse B" is a witty and lighthearted story about New Yorkers struggling with romantic, financial, and emotional issues. Margot is a divorcée whose sleazy former husband, Charles, went to prison after inseminating his fertility patients the old-fashioned way. Making matters worse, Margot invested her life savings with Bernie Madoff, leaving her nearly destitute. Still, she lives in the luxurious Batavia, "an Art Deco apartment building on beautiful West Tenth Street in Greenwich Village."

Sharing the apartment with Margot is her sister, Gwen-Laura, a widow whose husband, Edwin, failed to wake up one morning, a month before turning fifty. The duo is joined by a gay and unemployed boarder named Anthony, a handy person to have around, since he bakes, acts as a computer consultant, and dispenses useful all-around advice. To economize, Margot clips coupons, prepares inexpensive dinners, and looks for free sources of entertainment.

The author casts her sympathetic eye on Margot and Gwen-Laura, both of whom are in a rut. Margot remains bitter towards her treacherous ex and, and more than two years after Edwin's death, Gwen-Laura is still in deep mourning, unable to take even a few baby steps forward. Neither woman works outside the home. Margot has a blog with a pathetically small number of visitors. Gwen-Laura comes up with an idea for a group called "Chaste Dates," for men and women "who desired nothing more than companionship." Unsurprisingly, her concept fails to take off.

This occasionally poignant novel offers belly laughs but little genuine insight into the characters' psyches. Anthony's sister, Olivia, an au pair on the Upper East Side who hooks up with her boss, flits in and out of the narrative, and both Margot and Gwen-Laura find love in unlikely places. The best feature is Lipman's sharp, clever, and caustic dialogue. Had she explored the book's themes of healing, forgiveness, and personal growth in greater depth, Lipman's "The View from Penthouse B" might have been more than an intermittently amusing and satirical romp. (Three and a half stars.)
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