I have read the 156th book for the book challenge. It was The Family Man by Elinor Lipman.
John Henry Archer offers sympathy to his ex-wife Denise Krouch on the sudden death of her husband Glenn Krouch. While at Denise’s condo, Henry notices a photo of his adopted daughter Thalia, whom Denise and Glenn had taken away from Henry when Denise and Henry divorced and Denise married Glenn. Henry has resented that fact all these years and is pleased to discover that Thalia is now the coat-check girl at the salon where he has his hair cut. He decides to reach out to Thalia and try to mend the relationship.
Thalia is thrilled to meet Henry after all these years. She remembers Henry fondly and thinks it is horrible what Denise and Glenn did to Henry all those years ago. Thalia is an actress and decides to take Archer as her stage name. Henry offers Thalia the use of his maisonette apartment in which to live. Thalia readily accepts and is thrilled. She also springs on him her new acting gig. She is to play the girlfriend of a B-movie horror film actor, Leif Dumont. Leif needs publicity and a girlfriend. She is to play the girlfriend and get publicity and then have a very public breakup. Henry agrees to look at the contract for her.
Meanwhile, Denise sets up Henry with an acquaintance of hers, Todd who works in a Hom Store. They hit it off. Henry became aware that he was gay after the divorce from Denise and is comfortable with it. He likes Todd and Todd is aware of Thalia’s newest acting gig. Thalia is wearing clothes from Henry’s late mother Winniebelle. She likes the look. But in her acting gig, she gets a clothing wardrobe and Todd is her consultant. Henry weighs in too. There is also a hairdresser and makeup artist. Meanwhile Thalia has hooked up with Philip, a DJ at a club and is seeing him after her dates with Leif. Henry and Todd are swore to secrecy. They hope Thalia does not get caught.
Things aren’t going as planned with Leif. He isn’t getting the great publicity he wants. So he gets himself arrested for turnstile jumping. Thalia is having trouble getting her name in the paper. Denise has seen Thalia’s picture in the paper but no one wants to explain the situation to Denise.
Denise is fighting her step-sons on a pre-nuptial agreement that her husband had and Henry is handling that fight. He died just shy of a 25-year date and they want her out of her apartment. She is fighting to keep the condo. She is maintaining that Glenn burned the pre-nuptial agreement and that the copies are not valid.
Todd and Henry have dinner with Todd’s mother and Todd comes out to his mother. This is not news to his mother. She is thrilled to meet Henry and loves Todd and Henry together. She can’t wait to meet Thalia.
Thalia is supposed to have a fight with another girl and breakup with Leif. But she tells Henry that she has broken the contract and had sex with Leif. She has the fight with the girl but the fight goes wrong and she ends up with Leif. His underage girlfriend in California dumps him and he and Thalia become a couple for real. Thalia is pregnant with Leif’s baby.
Henry manages to get the step-son Glenn to set aside the pre-nuptial agreement and let Denise keep the condo. He meets Denise’s current boyfriend, Glenn Senior’s former partner. They are very happy together. Denise is happy that she gets to keep the condo. She sort of reconciles with Thalia.
Henry and Todd move in together. Leif moves into the maisonette with Thalia and Thalia has a baby girl. They are a happy family. Henry is complete.
This is a funny, sweet story. Thalia is a quirky, sweet girl. Henry is the voice of reason but goes along with his crazy daughter, picking up the pieces of her wild life. He is so happy with Todd. Todd is a stabilizer for Henry. Todd’s mother is the matriarch over everything. It is nice to have story where everything ends up so well.