Rachel To The Rescue by Elinor Lipman
Published by Eye Lightning Books
Available from All Good Bookshops and online
What They Say
Rachel Klein is sacked from her job at the White House after she sends an email criticising Donald Trump. As she is escorted off the premises she is hit by a speeding car, driven by what the press will discreetly call ‘a personal friend of the President’.
Does that explain the flowers, the get-well wishes at a press briefing, the hush money offered by a lawyer at her hospital bedside?
Rachel’s recovery is soothed by comically doting parents, matchmaking room-mates, a new job as aide to a journalist whose books aim to defame the President, and unexpected love at the local wine store.
But secrets leak, and Rachel’s new-found happiness has to make room for more than a little chaos. Will she bring down the President? Or will he manage to do that all by himself?
Rachel to the Rescue is a mischievous political satire, with a delightful cast of characters, from one of America’s funniest novelists.
What I Say
There are times as a reader when you discover an author, and wonder how you could possibly have not known their books, and then you want to read everything they have ever written.
This happened to me when Scott Pack and Sarra Manning recommended Elinor Lipman – and I hope that lots of you will trust me when I tell you that you really should read Elinor’s novels too.
Elinor’s latest novel Rachel To The Rescue from Eye Lightning Books, is an absolute joy from the very first page to the last, and one that needs to be on your reading radar immediately.
Rachel Klein reluctantly works at the White House where she is tasked with sticking back together all the correspondence that President Trump rips up, as all correspondence must be kept. Rachel is far from a Trump fan, and when she accidentally sends an email to everyone telling them what she really thinks of him, unsurprisingly she is fired and abruptly escorted from the White House.
As she leaves, she is knocked over by a speeding car, and the next thing she knows, she is waking up in hospital with her parents beside her, and some very unsettled lawyers from the White House who are very keen to talk to Rachel about what happened, and how they can ‘help’..
It transpires that she was knocked over by President Trumps alleged lover, and from that moment on, Rachel’s life changes forever. The details of the accident find their way onto the internet, and Rachel suddenly becomes very interesting to a lot of people. Unemployed and facing the prospect of having to move back in with her parents, Rachel realises she needs to find a job. She eventually manages to find work with a writer called Kirby Champion, whose speciality is writing lengthy books about political figures. In his eyes, Rachel offers a way for him to get a chance to work on the most explosive story he has heard, and gain the attention and notoriety he craves. Together, they try to work out who Trump’s elusive alleged lover is, and as they get deeper into their investigations, they stumble into a complex world of lies, complex relationships and unhappy marriages.
At the same time, Rachel is tentatively taking steps towards romance. When she meets Alex who works in the local wine store, with the help of her roommates, she plucks up the courage to go out with him.
Little by little, Rachel’s different worlds start to come closer together, until everyone knows each other’s business, and Rachel realises that amid the chaos finally she has found the happiness and life she really wants.
If I had to tell you why I recommend this (and all of Elinor’s writing) to you, I would say that Elinor’s writing is just glorious. The dialogue is perfectly pitched and zings off the page, and the plot is fast paced which works so well- it never feels forced or contrived. It genuinely made me laugh out loud, and is consistently so funny and smart that it is begging to be made into a film.
Another reason why I loved it is because quite frankly, it is just so refreshing to read a novel where the main character is the sort of person you would want as a friend! Rachel undoubtedly faces challenges in her professional and personal life, but her warmth and candour only make you hope that it all works out for her. She is neither self pitying or looking for sympathy, Rachel just genuinely wants to get on with her life and be happy – and I loved that about her.
For me, I thought the idea of family and belonging was also a strong theme throughout the novel. Rachel is lucky to have such devoted and involved parents, but the novel also shows that family doesn’t have to only be those people you are related to. Her friends, boyfriend and boss all become inextricably linked, but it only adds to the fabric of her life and there was a real sense of community and belonging in her world. It is an encouraging and hopeful idea, especially as the novel is so firmly rooted in the realities of America in 2020 – the Trump Administration and the Covid -19 pandemic.
Rachel To The Rescue wasn’t able to find a publisher in the United States because of the plot, which is why EyeLightning Books published it here. I for one, as a new Elinor Lipman fan, am so incredibly glad they did.
If you haven’t read any Elinor Lipman, or are looking for a novel that simply lifts you up and brings you joy, then you need to read Rachel to The Rescue. This is the second Elinor Lipman novel I’ve read, and if I tell you I hunted down three more since I finished it, you can see just how much I love Elinor’s writing, and I hope that lots of you quite rightly fall in love with her novels too.
Thank you so much to Dan and Scott at Eye Lightning Books for my gifted copy.