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BOOK REVIEW: HARDLY KNEW HER
BY LAURA LIPPMAN

We hope you enjoy this book review by Caryn St. Clair.



Comprised of sixteen short stories and one novella, Hardly Knew Her gives readers a chance to see many sides of Lippman's talent. The stories center on very ordinary people going about their very ordinary lives until things take a very out of the ordinary turn. In some cases, that turn is more of a Shirley Jackson type twist. Who really knows what lurks below the surface in the most ordinary of lives?

What makes the stories so very good is that the characters are so believable. The problems Lippman's characters face are very real and their reactions to those problems are also quite real. The Crack Cocaine Diet starts with two teenage girlfriends, recently dumped by their boyfriends, trying to figure out how to quickly drop a dress size. The dialog between the two as they run through the possibilities is both hilarious and frighteningly dead on. The book title. Hardly Knew Her, is also the story of Sofia, a tom girl much more at ease playing football with the guys than hanging out with the girls. Sofia also has a father who gambles and uses any and everything to settle his debts. How does a young girl deal with a gambling addict for a father? Hopefully not as Sofia does! In each case, I felt like I knew these girls.

It wouldn't really be a Lippman collection without Tess Monaghan. Tess Monaghan is featured in a couple of stories, The Shoeshine Man's Regrets (my personal favorite) and The Accidental Detective, which is written quite cleverly as a newspaper story about Tess.

While most of the stories take place in Baltimore, or that general area, a few are set other places. Among the stops readers will make are New Orleans in Pony Girl during Mardi Gras and Dublin in Honor Bar.

The book closes with the novella Scratch a Woman. Heloise is a typical suburban mom except for one small thing-she runs a high end call girl service. In the notes at the end of the book Lippman says she wrote this story long before Desperate Housewives and Weeds captivated America with the darker possibilities of life in the suburbs. Too bad this idea wasn't picked up by the television producers as it would make a great television series.

REVIEWED BY CARYN ST. CLAIR

DO NOT REPRINT WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER, CARYN ST. CLAIR


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