I have finished the 145th book for the book challenge. It was The View From Penthouse B by Elinor Lipman.
Gwen-Laura Schmidt is the middle sister of three sisters. She is living with her elder sister Margo Pierrepoint in Penthouse B of the Batavia on West Tenth Street in Greenwich Village in New York City. They are both unemployed. Gwen is widowed; her husband Edwin died suddenly two years ago. Margo’s situation is a little more complicated.
Margo’s ex-husband Charles was an ob-gyn on the Upper East side specializing in infertility. The problem was that his treatments included direct deposits. He has at least one child from his liaisons. He is in prison for fraud when the story opens. Margo invested with Bernie Madoff. Enough said. She lost almost everything she had in his ponzi scheme. She has a blog and a chat room devoted to those who lost their money in this manner.
The sisters decide to get a roommate. Enter Anthony, a gay investment banker who is also now unemployed. But he bakes divine cupcake and can cook. It’s also great to have a man around the apartment who is a great conversationalist. Anthony has a sister, Olivia, who is a nanny who has fallen in love with the husband of her employer. This has created problems of course, and Olivia often spends the night on the couch until the husband can move out and get a place of his own.
Charles eventually gets out of prison and surprise! He moves into a small apartment–very small–on the ground floor of the Batavia. Margot is livid as Charles tries to come back into her life. He also tries to introduce Chaz, his son who is studying at the Fashion Institute. He is making hats. Charles brings hams, fish, and flowers as well as wine to Penthouse B. Gradually he becomes more and more accepted into the fold.
Charles convinces Margot to go to couples counseling with him. Margot insists that they are not a couple but she goes anyway. She is slowly warming to Charles again. Charles is looking for a way to practice medicine again. He tries to enlist in the Army but cannot because he is a felon. He is able to practice in the prisons, however. He is okay with this and feels he is “giving back.”
Gwen finds it is time to start dating. She publishes an advertisement in many publications and subscribes to an online dating service. She doesn’t get many satisfactory responses. She does get one response from a man she met in a coffee shop but it turns out he was obnoxious and lecherous. She goes to an online dating workshop and meets a man who turns out to be just right for Anthony. She is very discouraged.
Then she gets an email from the mother of a man. The woman had seen her advertisement in The New York Review of Books. Gwen sends her her picture and her son corresponds with her. They meet for a dinner and find that they get along quite nicely. His name is Eli Offenberg. They start going out for dinner and drinks and then a bit more. He too is widowed and they have much in common. Finally Gwen has found love after Edwin.
Back at Penthouse B, Margot and Charles have rekindled their romance and have decided to remarry. Surprisingly everyone is happy about it. Charles seems to have changed and really loves Margot. Margot has forgiven Charles for the past. They marry and Charles has his new job in the prison.
Gwen has her new romance with Eli. Anthony has his new romance with William. All three roommates are quite happy.
This was a funny, sweet story. Gwen’s experiences in dating are hilarious. Margot’s inability to ward of Charles is also quite funny. Charles is quite tenacious. Anthony is charming. The characters are all wonderfully developed in this book. I really enjoyed this novel.