Paperback:

Published: Lightning Books (November 2020)

ISBN: 9781785632556

Rachel to the Rescue

Elinor Lipman

£8.99

Will Rachel Klein bring down the President? Or will he manage to do that all by himself?

‘The Trump book that could only be published abroad’ – Stacy Schiff

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.

OUT NOVEMBER 2020. AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER NOW

Extracts

Unless I amend it, my resume confirms that I truly did work for the forty-fifth president of the United States, if you can call my daily torture-task a job. Even when I hide behind my formal title (Assistant, White House Office of Records Management aka WHORM) I eventually confess that I spent my days taping back together every piece of paper that passed through the hands of Donald J. Trump.

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Extracts

Unless I amend it, my resume confirms that I truly did work for the forty-fifth president of the United States, if you can call my daily torture-task a job. Even when I hide behind my formal title (Assistant, White House Office of Records Management aka WHORM) I eventually confess that I spent my days taping back together every piece of paper that passed through the hands of Donald J. Trump.

How would a person end up in the administration’s most unnecessary office? Unemployed, I had searched every online job site, including USA.Jobs.com, where I typed in Washington, D.C., and for fun, under locations, “White House.” I rationalized it this way to my one-sided friends and family: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the people’s house. It doesn’t belong to any one man or woman or administration, so calm down.

I hadn’t worked on any campaign nor did I have family connections, but someone must’ve liked my professional qualifications, which I could claim as the personal assistant/typist/proofreader/errand-runner for a wealthy New Yorker who intended to self-publish a memoir after his parents were no longer alive to read and disown him. But he died, a fatal heart attack at the breakfast table, before he’d dictated anything beyond his freshman year at, of course, Yale. My White House security clearance sailed through, probably due to my bare-bones employment record, and bachelor’s degree from a college in a red state.  

A distracted woman interviewed me for the entry-level job in slapdash fashion. She said my duties would involve a lot of reading; in fact nothing but. Well into the first term of the 45th president,  I found myself in a cubicle, one of a dozen men and women of various ages reading incoming mail. There was the positive, the negative, the donors in search of favors; the dangerous, the hate letters and the love letters, the requests for pardons, for clemency, for commuted sentences, for loans, for business advice, for autographed photos; the macaroni paintings, the coffee mugs, the velour renditions of the president; the edibles. The wedding invitations addressed to President and Mrs. Trump were sent to the East Wing. Under the law, letters we would’ve tossed had to be kept — even those griping about service at Trump hotels and building supers in Trump residential buildings.

I didn’t complain about the brittle, discolored, sometimes crumbling paper that had been irradiated before delivery. I look back and wonder, did I stand out in some way in that entry-level correspondence job? Was my lateral move a reward or a punishment? Was I especially hard-working or just expendable? Whichever — someone must have noticed that I was a nimble restorer of paper in need of mending.

So, after only thirteen weeks in the Office of Correspondence, I moved to the Old Executive Office Building, upholding the Presidential Records Act. Unstated job description: tape tape tape. Did I get the easy ones, the rare memo that had been merely ripped down the middle? No. I got the confetti. Thankless task?  How about an unnecessary one? How about the nagging reality that the leader of the free world was unteachable?  

I knew from my days in Correspondence that the President didn’t actually read what the world wrote to him. So, it was no small irony that my very own email reached him, or someone with the power to hire and fire. I didn’t mean to send it; should not have composed it above a department-wide email about refrigerator courtesy. Just for fun, or so I believed, I described my daily grind in terms unflattering to the shredder-in-chief, addressed to my alleged best buddy in the office, which I mistakenly thought — with the judgment one can have late at night after too many Cape Codders — he’d find amusing. I also wrote that I might as well be slaving away in Tehran because every day I identified with the Iranian student militia in “Argo”, who reassembled shredded documents. Probably not a smart reference, nor was my post-script that said, “It would be nice to have a president who had a learning curve.” And then my tanked-up finger hit “reply all”.

It was the epistolary equivalent of death by cop. I didn’t get past Security the day after I sent it. Though I do appreciate that my somewhat treasonous e-letter now resides in the National Archives, not one thing about my three long months on Team Scotch Tape is helping me make friends in 2020.

Luckily my health insurance was good till the end of the month. After being figuratively kicked to the curb, I wandered in something of a daze across 17th Street. Well, halfway across, at which point I was knocked unconscious by a big black car driven by what the newspapers would one day diplomatically refer to as “a personal friend of the president’s.”

quotes

‘Like an inspired alchemist, Lipman has converted serious subjects into humour’

New York Times

‘Elinor Lipman writes witty and smart Cinderella stories. Imagine an American Anita Brookner with younger and more spirited protagonists’

Times Literary Supplement

‘An enchanting, infinitely witty yet serious, exceptionally intelligent, wholly original and Austen-like stylist’

Fay Weldon

reviews

‘The Trump book that could only be published abroad’

Stacy Schiff

‘The perfect anti-Trump, pro-voting book you need right now’

Caroline Leavitt

‘Such a terrific story – witty and original and many times I shrieked with laughter. I love the combination of razor-sharp edge and tender heart. It’s a book we need on both sides of the Atlantic right now’

Patty Dann

extras

‘Lightning Books in the UK has moved with, well, lightning speed to publish Rachel to the Rescue...’ The Washington Post reports our acquisition.

ABOUT

Elinor Lipman

Elinor Lipman was born in Massachusetts and is the author of more than a dozen novels. Her first one, Then She Found Me, was published in 1990 and was adapted into a film starring Helen Hunt, Bette Midler and Colin Firth. She won the New England Book Award in 2001, and her novel My Latest Grievance won the Paterson Fiction Prize.

She lives in Manhattan, as well as in upstate New York.

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