Lucy Ellmann - Mimi (4 stars)

Lucy Ellmann - Mimi

A gleefully weird novel full of mischief and meaning

Across six novels, Edinburgh-based American author Lucy Ellmann has fashioned a quirkily distinctive voice mixing righteous rage with laugh-out-loud humour. Mimi finds her on top form, couching in whimsical wit a provocative riff on romance and feminism, explored unusually from a male perspective.

After slipping on ice and spraining his ankle in New York on Christmas Eve, eminent plastic surgeon and self-pitying melancholic Harrison Hanafan is aided by ‘wacko broad’ Mimi, who freakishly re-enters his life during a reflective period of convalescence as he plans a speech for graduates of his old high school. Their resulting unlikely relationship redefines his attitudes to work, sex, the female shape and the vital role of women in his life, from his interfering ex Gertrude to his struggling artist sister Bee.

It’s all flighty enough to make a Wes Anderson film look like gritty realism, but engages serious themes – a tragedy befalling Bee in particular fires Harrison’s anger against male cruelty, with his school speech always promising to provide a hilariously ridiculous dénouement. A gleefully weird novel full of mischief and meaning.

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