Nan A. Talese: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Good Riddance

Good Riddance, Elinor Lipman's (The Inn at Lake Devine, On Turpentine Lane) 11th comic novel, begins with a simple moment of housekeeping zeal. As Daphne Maritch tidies up her apartment, she tosses the Pickering, N.H., high school class of '68 yearbook in her Manhattan recycling bin. The generously inscribed annual had belonged to her recently departed mother, a dedicated teacher and yearbook adviser, who received it as a gift from her students and updated it with sometimes snarky commentary. Daphne, however, feels no joy about the book, so she's glad to see it go. Thus begins a circuitous, madcap path from regret to joy, a journey in the style Lipman fans will recognize with delight.

When Geneva, a "boundary challenged chatterbox" neighbor, plucks the yearbook from the trash and informs Daphne that as a filmmaker she sees rich possibilities in Mrs. Maritch and the class of '68, Daphne is conflicted. Although she's skeptical, she muses "maybe this was exactly what my mother would have wanted." Soon everyone is weighing in, including Jeremy, the handsome actor across the hall, and Daphne's dad, who moves to New York from Pickering to launch his new single life. The plot thickens when Geneva convinces Daphne to attend a PHS '68 reunion, where she learns shocking news from decades past. But it's a Lipman hallmark that good things happen to good people; the unsympathetic characters may not suffer but neither do they win. It's good riddance to dismay and hello to happiness in this witty romantic comedy. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, manager, Book Passage, San Francisco