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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

The Ladies' Man

1. Harvey Nash is certainly not the kind of man with whom most women would choose to become involved. Yet despite his oily loyalties, arrogance, and opportunism, he charms nearly all of the characters, to some degree, at some point in the novel. How does Harvey--now called Nash--make his way into Adele, Kathleen, and Lois' good graces? How does he maneuver his way into the arms of an intelligent, beautiful, and successful woman like Cynthia? What is it about this type of man that continues to be attractive to women and despite their better judgment they continue to succumb to his charm?

2. To what extent does the notion of good manners prevent the Dobbins from getting rid of Nash? To what extent are all three--on some level--curious about him?

3. How does fear threaten each female character's ability to act on her attraction to others? How does Nash confirm their fears? How does his behavior play a role in diffusing their fears?

4. How are the Dobbin sisters' loyalties to one another threatened by Nash's reasserting himself into their lives?

5. What role does Richard Dobbin play in the novel?

6. Perhaps one of the most hilarious scenes in The Ladies' Man is Cynthia's big party for Nash. How do the events leading up to the big night infuse each guest's entrance with tension? How does dialogue up the ante once the party begins?

7. How does Kathleen handle Cynthia's feelings for Nash? How does Kathleen and Cynthia's friendship effect the course of the novel?

8. Nash performs one notable and noble act in The Ladies' Man: he makes Marty Glazer jealous. What prompts this act of selflessness? Is it completely selfless? If not, how does his gesture endear him to us nonetheless?

9. How does Elinor Lipman keep us interested in so many different characters over the course of the novel? Were there characters you cared about more than others?

10. How do the characters in The Ladies' Man highlight different ways we approach--or shrink from--love today? What aspects of modern American culture make the pursuit of romance more difficult than in the past? What aspects make it easier?

The Ladies' Man
by Elinor Lipman

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2000
  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN-10: 037570731X
  • ISBN-13: 9780375707315