Pursuit of Alice Thrift — Elinor Lipman ****

Elinor Lipman’s novels either delight me or leave me cold. This one was a little different — it almost delighted me, but I needed a sweater while I read it. Alice is a hard kind of character to write. She’s incapable of accessing her own feelings or reaching out to others, something that Lipman conveys so successfully that the reader feels just as alienated from the main character as she does from her life. All in all this novel glides along on the surface, and it never really digs down to where the interesting stuff might be. What’s really frustrating is that Lipman actually gets Alice to the point where things are going to happen, and then she ends the book. I will grant that there are some quirky characters, very memorable –but even they float above the narrative.