Reading guide for The Pursuit of Alice Thrift by Elinor Lipman

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Pursuit of Alice Thrift

by Elinor Lipman

The Pursuit of Alice Thrift
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2003, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2004, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. The Pursuit of Alice Thrift opens with the announcement of a marriage and its ultimate failure. Does knowing the outcome spoil the narrative journey in any way?

  2. Alice always expresses herself in literal and clinical terms. How does the author maintain a comedic tone while her narrator is, essentially, tactless and devoid of humor?

  3. No one around Alice can understand what she sees in Ray Russo. How much of that universal disapproval is based on class differences? What facts did the author slip onto Ray's figurative résumé to prejudice his case?

  4. Reviewers have noted Elinor Lipman's "fondness for inviting peripheral characters along with their numerous subplots and intrigues to have their say." Which characters in The Pursuit of Alice Thrift best exemplify this hallmark?

  5. Could The Pursuit of Alice Thrift have been set anywhere, or is there something intrinsically Bostonian about the story and its characters?

  6. The author has said that this novel is, first and foremost, "about friendship, and being rescued by it." Leo Frawley might be described as the novel's nurturer, while Sylvie Schwartz functions as its tough guy. Do you think that the author set out to challenge the readers' gender expectations, or was she simply trying to create original characters?

  7. Except for her long hair and unfashionable clothes, Alice is never described physically. How do you picture her? Did she change in your mind's eye as she grew more comfortable inside her own skin?

  8. Dialogue is all-important in Elinor Lipman's novels. Is its most important role that of advancing the plot, developing the characters, or entertaining the reader?

  9. Should Ray Russo be described as the novel's villain, or might he be, after all, Alice's catalyst and crucible?

  10. If you could see into their futures, what will Alice, Sylvie, and Leo be doing ten years from now?

  11. Novelist Carol Shields, in her biography of Jane Austen, observed, "...(M)others are essential in her fiction. They are the engines that push the action forward, even when they fail to establish much in the way of maternal warmth." How does Mrs. Thrift fit the Austen model? And how much influence does Mrs. Frawley still exert over her full-grown, independent son?

  12. Alice confides to Dr. Shaw's companion, Jackie, "I'm confused by the fact that we had, to the best of my knowledge, in the vernacular, great sex." Why is she baffled? Is it purely her lack of experience, or is it back to the sociology of Ray and Alice--that by all other standards they would be judged incompatible?

  13. In Shakespeare's plays one can rely on comedies ending in marriage. The two weddings in The Pursuit of Alice Thrift, however, are not endings in any conventional sense. What purpose do they serve in the education and evolution of Alice?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Vintage. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Barkskins
    Barkskins
    by Annie Proulx
    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx, is not a book to read quickly. After a month of slow reading, I ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Marriage of Opposites
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's latest work, The Marriage of Opposites, is a historical fiction novel focusing on ...
  • Book Jacket: Miss Jane
    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson
    National Book Award Finalist Brad Watson returns with an intimate novel about one woman's journey to...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Imperial Wife
    by Irina Reyn

    A smart, engaging novel that parallels two fascinating worlds and two singular women.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    All Is Not Forgotten
    by Wendy Walker

    This is fast-paced psychological suspense/thriller at it's very best.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Sweet Caress
by William Boyd

William Boyd's Sweet Caress captures an entire lifetime unforgettably within its pages. It captivates.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!