Good Riddance

Good Riddance

by Elinor Lipman


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In a delightful new romantic comedy from Elinor Lipman, one woman’s trash becomes another woman’s treasure, with deliriously entertaining results.

Daphne Maritch doesn't quite know what to make of the heavily annotated high school yearbook she inherits from her mother, who held this relic dear. Too dear. The late June Winter Maritch was the teacher to whom the class of '68 had dedicated its yearbook, and in turn she went on to attend every reunion, scribbling notes and observations after each one—not always charitably—and noting who overstepped boundaries of many kinds.

In a fit of decluttering (the yearbook did not, Daphne concluded, "spark joy"), she discards it when she moves to a small New York City apartment. But when it's found in the recycling bin by a busybody neighbor/documentary filmmaker, the yearbook's mysteries—not to mention her own family's—take on a whole new urgency, and Daphne finds herself entangled in a series of events both poignant and absurd. 
Good Riddance is a pitch-perfect, whip-smart new novel from an "enchanting, infinitely witty yet serious, exceptionally intelligent, wholly original, and Austen-like stylist" (Washington Post). 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544808256
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 02/05/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 98,961
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

ELINOR LIPMAN is the author of ten novels, including The Inn at Lake Devine and My Latest Grievance, winner of the Paterson Fiction Prize.


Northampton, Massachusetts, and New York, New York

Date of Birth:

October 16, 1950

Place of Birth:

Lowell, Massachusetts


A.B., Simmons College, 1972; Honorary Doctor of Letters, Simmons College, 2000

Read an Excerpt

The Grateful Class of ’68

For a few weeks after my mother’s death, I was in possession of the painstakingly annotated high school year-book that had been dedicated to her by the grateful class of 1968.

Yes, she’d been their English teacher and yearbook advisor, but that didn’t explain her obsessive collecting of signatures and tributes next to every senior’s photo.  I could picture her — age twenty-three, her first job after college, roaming the corridors of Pickering High School, pen and book in hand, coaxing the shyest, least engaged boy or girl to sign — Write anything.  I want to remember every one of you. Could you personalize it, just a few words?

But there would be more — her own embellishments, her judgments and opinions, written next to those photos in her small legible hand, a different color ink (red, green, blue) for several milestone reunions, which she attended compulsively, starting with the fifth and continuing until her last, their forty-fifth.

Her margin notes were coded but easily deciphered: “M” for married. “S” for single. “D” for dead; “DIV” for divorced. “DWI,” said a few. “AIDS?” suggested one notation. “Same dress she wore at 15th” my mother recorded. “Very plump” was one of her milder put-downs. “Braces.” “Pregnant.” Occasionally, “Still pretty.” “Looks older than I do” was one of her favorite notes. “Still holds PHS record for 100-yd. dash,” said one. And “danced w. him” appeared often.

Had I known about this project as it was happening? I hadn’t. Several reunions were held before I was born, and later ones, at-tended even after she retired, weren’t discussed with her two daughters. After all, we might know some of these graduates as the parents of our friends or our own teachers or custodians or police officers or panhandlers, townspeople still.

A handwritten codicil on the last page of my mother’s will said, “My daughter Daphne will take possession of the Pickering High School’s yearbook, The Monadnockian.” And nothing more.

I took it back with me to Manhattan, where it stayed on my shelf for a month until I read a magazine article about decluttering.

The test? Would I ever reread this novel, these college text-books, these magazines? Did I really need a Portuguese-English dictionary? What about the panini press and my dead Black-Berry? The expert recommended this: Hold the item in question, be it book or sweater or socks or muffin tin, to your chest, over your heart, and ask yourself, Does this thing inspire joy?

I hugged the yearbook. Nothing. Well, not nothing; worse than that: an aversion. Apparently, I didn’t want, nor would I miss, this testimony to the unsympathetic, snarky side of my mother’s character.

The best-selling decluttering wizard said the property owner had to be tough, even ruthless.  I certainly was that.  Good-bye, ugly white-vinyl, ink-stained yearbook with your put-downs and your faint smell of mildew! Maybe it was my mother’s legacy and a time capsule, but it had failed to stir emotion in my bosom. Possessing too much stuff anyway, in a cramped apartment, book-shelves overflowing, I threw it out. Or rather, being a good citizen, I walked  it  down  the  hall  to  my  building’s  trash  closet, straight into the recycling bin.

Okay, Listen

I’d never met Geneva Wisekorn despite our residing at opposite ends of the same hallway. Our introduction came in the form of a note slipped under my door announcing, “I found something that belongs to you. Are you home?” followed by an email address and phone, office, and mobile numbers. My wallet? My keys? I checked my pocketbook. All there. Had a misdelivered piece of mail or dropped glove been traced back to me? I went to my laptop and wrote to this seemingly thoughtful stranger, asking what possession of mine she’d found.

She wrote back immediately. “A high school yearbook.  We need to talk!”

No, we didn’t. I hit reply and wrote, “Thanks anyway, but I recycled that,” then added a postscript — “It has no meaning or value, sentimental or otherwise” — in case she was looking for a reward.

“Contact info?” she answered.

My first mistake: I sent it. Immediately, my phone rang. After my wary “Hello,” I heard, “I think you’ll be very interested in what I have to say.”

I asked how she knew the yearbook, which I now decided I needed back, belonged to me.

“Because I found it with magazines that had your name on the subscription labels.”

I said, “I’d never forgive myself if a yearbook with all that personal stuff written in it got into the hands of a stranger.”

“Then why’d you throw it out?”

“I thought it would go to some landfill! Or get turned into what-ever recycled paper gets turned into.”

“I know the rules. If it’s trash left at the curbside or at the dump, the possessor has relegated ownership.”

The possessor has relegated ownership? Was I talking to this ragpicker’s lawyer?

“Finders keepers, in other words?”



Customer Reviews

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Good Riddance 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
gaele More than 1 year ago
Daphne left small town New Hampshire for the bustle and opportunity of New York City, and in her attempts to declutter her life and make a new start full of NONE of the mistakes of her past, her mother’s yearbook from her first year of teaching isn’t one of the things that hit the Keep pile. A favorite teacher of many, had treasured this yearbook and left little notes about students, successes and failures all through it. Surprisingly, she also left the yearbook to the daughter who had the least interest in it, in fact, Daphne has ZERO idea why it was important to her mother, or that it would become an important element in her growth and learning to be an adult. Tossing it out in the garbage, her neighbor, who also turns out to be a budding documentarian retrieves it – and begins to question everything and everyone about it. But, things quickly deteriorate as Daphne, fresh from her ‘declutter phase’ is confronted by the budding documentarian Geneva, a woman with no boundaries or social niceties, and a childish unwillingness to return the yearbook to Daphne- ‘finders keepers’ was the phrase invoked. Oh these two were completely off the rails – funny and angsty, sharp tongued and insatiably curious, the story moves from laugh out loud moments in an almost ‘call and response’ manner to some truly thorny questions that have Daphne wondering far more about her mother and the yearbook than she ever thought possible. Clever characterization and development, dialogue that is witty and often pointed, and plenty of moments that bring choices past and present into the forefront, this is a story that is lighthearted at first, revealing it’s deeper and more relevant pieces as it moves along, showing growth and discovery in equal measure on the way to the end. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Fun read that held my interest. The author does a nice job of creating delightful characters, and making crazy storylines believable!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed this book! Held my interest from the beginning and was easy to follow the characters and their progress. I then found to my surprise that I had another of Ms. Lipman's books in my library that had not been touched. Guess what my next read is going to be.
Dani_the_Bookaholic More than 1 year ago
Good Riddance is one of those books that I can see being turned into a movie. Mae Whitman would play the part of Daphne, the MC. Rebel Wilson, the part of crazy-neighbor, Geneva. And Lucas Till would play the role of Jeremy? I don’t know, I’m still questioning the male lead role, but the ladies I could see playing these roles as plain as day, as if the parts were written for them. And seeing how (it seems) that author Elinor Lipman is such a big fan of the TV show Riverdale, I can see why she would want to write something that would maybe, eventually make it to the screen. SIDE RANT: On the Riverdale note, I, too, am a fan of the show. I both liked and disliked the constant mention of the show and it’s characters, but for the life of me, I couldn’t place “Timmy” at all. So, I’ll admit, I did totally IMDB the show, looking for a “Timmy” which does not exist, but please, if you can figure out who “Timmy” is referring to, because it’s totally going to annoy me until I re-watch every single episode until I find him. Then, maybe, I’ll have Jeremy’s actor nailed down! END SIDE RANT. However, that being said, I don’t think this novel should be made into a movie in the slightest. While I did find myself LOL-ing several times while reading, I often found myself either bored or annoyed. Daphne was too whiny (not a reflection of Mae Whitman, FYI), and I found the dynamic between Daphne and Geneva, and Daphne and Jeremy to be very out there (both of which usually make a good movie.) On top of that, the story of “the yearbook” in question never really comes completely to fruition, and I felt that someone like Geneva never would have given up as easily (whether if that is to finish what she started or to just badger Daphne about it.) Last note to make about this book is that while it is classified as a “romance,” I have a very hard time classifying it as such myself. “Humorous Literature?” Yes. But “Romance?” Definitely not. Yes, there is a love interest/relationship, several actually, but not in the “Literature Romance” sense. So if you’re looking for that, this is not your book. If you’re looking for something to LOL to, then this one will give your your chuckles. Dani's Score out of 5: (3.5/5) *** Thank you to author Elinor Lipman, NetGalley, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers for giving me a copy of GOOD RIDDANCE in exchange for my honest review. ***
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SL22268 More than 1 year ago
Delightful! Thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book started out a little slow at first but as I read, I couldn't put it down. Daphne inherits her mother's yearbook dedicated to her when she was a teacher. Her mother has now passed, but this yearbook is full of annotations on the students and staff. She has attended every reunion adding to it over the years. One man's junk is another man's treasure....Daphne throws the yearbook in the garbage, and a busybody neighbor finds it and proceeds to make a documentary and a podcast about the yearbook. The things Daphne's mother has written over the years are not exactly nice; and she even has a secret of her own regarding one of the students. Can Daphne get the yearbook back and make things right again? Delightful book!
Laeljeanne More than 1 year ago
Daphne Maritch inherits the yearbook that the class of 1969 dedicated to her mother, their teacher. Attending every class reunion of that year’s class, her mom dashed off judgment calls in that yearbook, while alienating her family further. Daphne has no use for it and tosses it in recycling, only to discover her neighbor has rescued it and has documentary plans for it, focusing on her mother’s life. In her attempt to repossess it, Daphne learns exactly how much she didn’t know about her mother, and how much better her father knows her than she realized. Secrets explode, Daphne explodes…romance ensues. Lipman creates a character whose complexity makes her less endearing than interesting, leading dear reader to enjoy her ups and downs from outside the emotions, yet still root for her as she makes terrible life decisions. Choices made by all family members in the past reverberate in the presence, causing confusion and offering challenging choices. The integrity of the characters remains resolute as they fluffercate over “9/10 of the law” and “right to know.” This is an absolutely FUN story, whipping back and forth in allegiances, and up and down in storyline. I was fortunate to receive a copy of this fabulous book from the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt through a Goodreads giveaway.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an ARC of this Elinor Lipman book. This is a quirky romantic comedy, or maybe journey of self discovery filled up with some ridiculously funny situations. I am not sure I liked the main character, Daphne, but I guess the point is that Daphne is not so sure she likes herself. In discarding an old yearbook that her late mother annotated Daphne opens a can of worms that leads to discoveries that change not only her view of her mother, but also herself.
LHill2110 More than 1 year ago
Writing: 3 Plot: 3 Characters: 3.5 Daphne Maritch inherits one thing from her recently deceased mother: a 1968 High School Yearbook with regularly updated snarky marginalia. Newly divorced and living in a postage-stamp sized apartment in New York City, she tosses the tome and focusses on her “recovery project” — a course in chocolate making. However, thoroughly obnoxious neighbor, Geneva Wisenkorn, has another plan. Purporting to be documentary film maker (her main claim to fame is a Matzoh docudrama), Geneva has latched on to the yearbook (procured through dumpster-diving) as her path to fame and fortune. Thoroughly horrified, Daphne spends the book alternating between the shocking discoveries unearthed and trying to keep those discoveries quiet. She is helped by her father — whose move to New York fulfills a life long dream — and hunky across-the-hall neighbor, Jeremy, who plays a small part in the successful series Riverdale. Entertaining and reasonably well-written with great humor. The plot is a little thin, and the characters are a little too stereotyped for my taste. We find out at the end that it’s really a (happy) love story though it doesn’t read that way from the start. I would have been a little happier if our heroine found something she actually wanted to do with her life rather than just find a boyfriend … but that was not to be.
CrawfishQueen More than 1 year ago
This was a pleasant, enjoyable romance. Although a fast, escapist read, it kept me engaged. The characters were cute and well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is simply not my type of book. I just couldn't get myself to care about the characters or what they were doing. I see that some people loved it and that's great. If every book appealed to everyone, life would be boring. Maybe I'll try reading it again later. They say tastes change.
LouiseFoerster More than 1 year ago
From the first line of this wonderful novel, I was riveted. The voice, the presence, the sheer force of Lipman's prose carried me from New York to New Hampshire, back to the future and then home again. I absolutely loved the heroine, her relationships with vivid, complex characters. Mainly, however, I loved not knowing what was going to happen next--and trusting that Lipman would deliver laugh out loud, touching, magnificence.
andi22 More than 1 year ago
I was delighted as I am an Elinor Lipman fan. 3.5 but rounding up – because better than other 3s I’ve read recently. And, because I can-- it was a delightful, fun read, though not great literature. Plus, the plot driver is the 50th high school reunion—and I just attended mine! The setting: “…one woman’s trash becomes another woman’s treasure…” In this case, Daphne Maritch, living in New York City as a student of chocolate, inherits her [late]mother’s heavily annotated high school yearbook. Daphne’s mother, June, was a beloved teacher and yearbook advisor. Her father, Tom, was a principal at the same school in New Hampshire. There is more than this simple plotline and parents’ relationship. Daphne throws out the yearbook, but her neighbor, Geneva [quite the character], retrieves it and tries to decode it. Much to Daphne’s chagrin, she decides to turn it into a documentary, then a podcast. There are small-town secrets and lies. Other characters and sideline stories. Jeremy, another neighbor—a younger-than- Daphne actor. And why this book is described as a romantic comedy. Tom decides to move to NYC—a lifelong dream. He becomes a dogwalker at “New Leash on Life” –and voila, another romance—with Kathi—he walks her dog. And lastly, Holden Phillips IV, Daphne’s shortlived husband—who married her because he wouldn’t otherwise get his family’s money. Also, Peter Armstrong—who though pivotal… [you’ll have to read]. Is this great literature? No. But many chuckles and some great phrases. Consider: “Her outfit could be called a dress if one were kind. It had no shape, only volume.” “His gaze was, I now recognize, faux fond.” “we reset our expressions to Good Samaritan.” Name tag as a “social lubricant” And more. So if you want to an escapist, light read, I suggest this book.
LlamaJen More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Huge fan of Elinor Lipman and I love her books. This was no exception. I loved the characters, story and writing style. The whole book revolves around an old yearbook that belonged to Daphne’s mom. This yearbook causes many problems and eventually long hidden secrets are revealed. The yearbook ends up in the wrong hands because Daphne decides to declutter her apartment and recycles her mom’s beloved book. It took me a while to like Daphne, but I found her very funny, especially when she would describe her ex-husband and when she ran into Holdy at the restaurant. I loved Daphne’s dad, Thomas. They talked about everything and nothing seemed off limits. I wouldn’t mind Jeremy living next to me. Then there was Geneva. Her whole project seemed more like something you would read in a tabloid than a documentary. I definitely recommend the book. The characters are witty and made me laugh many times. I can’t believe a yearbook would cause so many issues. Thanks to NetGalley, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and the author, Elinor Lipman for a free electronic ARC of this novel.