Looking for a Funny Novel Set in Washington DC? Start here.


by Elinor Lipman

During my five years as a presidential shorthand, I would escape the natural stresses of the White House by stopping by an upscale consignment shop in Dupont Circle. I found it impossible not to overhear the ladies having lunch as I thoughtlessly rummaged through the racks of weary work clothes.

“Tell us something absolutely delicious“Women would mutter to each other from adjacent dressing rooms and the feeding frenzy would begin. They replaced the hot gossip with a frenzied fervor that I hadn’t encountered since, that is, not until Elinor Lipman’s “Rachel to the Rescue.”

An entertaining romp of political satire, “Rachel to the Rescue” makes fun of DC antics, starting with Rachel Klein herself, a young woman who responded to an online post and got a job at the Trump White House. Within the Office of the White House Records Management (WHORM), Rachel was tasked with putting together any document that Trump tore up after reading it, and it proved to be nearly every note she touched: did she just tear up the middle? No. I got confetti.” (This WHORM tape role is a real write-up on Lipman’s fictional Trump White House.)

Frustrated and unsure of her career path, Rachel sympathizes even before using “the judgment a person might have late at night” to confide in a colleague: “It would be nice to have a president with a learning curve.”

Unfortunately, he writes this over a White House email and sends the letter not to his “alleged best friend in the office” but to the entire department with the unforgivably quick trigger of a sloppy “reply all”. When security escorts Rachel out of the building the next morning, she is shaken by the consequences of her actions. He is also hit by a car. The woman behind the wheel is none other than the president’s optometrist and mistress, who rushes to see her most powerful patient. If that sounds lively and exaggerated, get ready for Part 2.

landRachel to the Rescue” is climbing faster than President Trump’s tweets during the initial impeachment trial. Soon after, we meet a modern-day thief, a famous Hebrew coach, and an icy receptionist in love with his half-brother. Rachel’s Netflix-exclusive personal life is just as fun—two oddball roommates eager to tune her in, adorably overbearing parents, a cute guy at the wine shop. Lipman writes that Rachel hosted the Sabbath dinner and helped her misguided boss with her familiar sarcastic charm.

As I read this novel, full of whimsical characters and lively dialogue, I found myself wishing that Lipman had left behind the news cycle, with his latest novels such as “Get Away”, “On the Road to Turpentine” and “The View from Penthouse B.” The politics sparks only occur in the background of the novel, and the scattering of horrific current events into the bubble gum fun of Rachel’s personal life creates an unfortunate mismatch. When Andrew Cuomo made a cameo, I couldn’t help but spread a sympathetic image. vote For Lipman, who portrayed the governor of New York in the flattering light that was prevalent before he fell out of favor. While a story is a bond between an author and his audience, the feather-light political references in this novel feel more like a head-to-head collision with the very recent past and the ongoing present, rather than like a connection.

Despite its White House-centered plot, “Rachel to the Rescue” revolves around a young woman who makes her way through a parade of abusive, rejected adults. The universal story of growing up and learning what matters and who deserves our attention. I have no doubt that readers hungry for heartwarming comedy and spicy DC gossip will find Lipman’s new novel. absolutely delicious.


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