Gwen-Laura is a widow. Her sister, Margot, is a divorcee (formerly married to a fertility doctor who had an unorthodox method of helping his patients get pregnant), and her other sister is smugly married and prosperous. Gwen is still mourning her husband, a public school art teacher, and Margot is spitting mad, both at her ex-husband, who is currently in prison, and at Bernard Madoff, who is also currently in prison. Neither sister has much money, certainly not enough to live well in Manhattan, so they move in together and take a border, Anthony.
A more delightful trio is hardly to be found in current fiction. The sisters disagree, but gently, in ladylike fashion, and always with a dash of wit. When times get rough, Anthony, whose cupcakes are the best anyone has ever had, smooths things out for everyone.
Gwen has an idea for a no-sex dating service, Chaste Dates, which she advertises on Craigslist. Dinner and conversation. That's it. But she finds she must explain clearly and concisely to her first client that there are to be no activities in any bedroom at which point he relaxes and loosens his tie:
"Are you really a golf instructor at Chelsea Piers?" I asked.
"Off the record?"
"I am not a golf instructor at Chelsea Piers."
"Are you in a line of work where you wear handcuffs?"
"Wear? I'd say no."
"I meant are they on your person?"
He said, after staring for a good long time, "Yes."
"Are you a policeman?"
... After another longish stare, he said, "Vice."
Back to the drawing board with the business plan.
But it's when Margot's ex is released from prison and rents an efficiency in the same building that things get interesting. And between the appearance of Charles son by one of his patients, Anthony's dating someone from Gwen's Grief Circle, and a little old lady writing to Gwen asking her to go out with Eli, her shy, 50-something son -- well, we end up with a classic Lipman ending. Everyone is satisfied, including the reader.