cover image Isabel's Bed: Isabel's Bed

Isabel's Bed: Isabel's Bed

Elinor Lipman, Lipman. Atria Books, $20 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-671-88160-3

When her live-in lover of 12 years tells her he's marrying someone else, Harriet Mahoney, a writer of unpublished stories ``about love between quiet people'' answers an ad for a ghostwriter. She moves from Manhattan to Cape Cod, into a lavish, ultramodern house on the dunes near Truro, where she will work on her novel about her parents' marriage while ghosting the story of the decidedly unquiet Isabel Krug, whose claim to fame is having been the other woman in a celebrated murder case. (Isabel, who was in bed with her rich lover when his wife shot him in the heart, became star witness in the much-publicized trial.) With her trademark, light comic touch Lipman (The Way Men Act) unfolds her narrative, revealing the gradual effect of Isabel's flamboyant lifestyle (her bed is covered in eggplant colored shearling) on Harriet's worldview, and on Harriet's career. The appealing supporting cast includes Isabel's eccentric artist husband, Costas, also in residence; Harriet's former lover, who owns a bagel deli in TriBeCa; and Isabel's handyman Pete, a native Cape Codder. The unexpected ending offers a just-right finish to this wry, warm story of about love and those who practice it. Literary Guild selection; author tour. (Mar.)