By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
Updated July 09, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

If English novelist Anita Brookner’s unmarried, alienated, middle-aged characters found themselves imbued with a sudden sense of spirit and residing in Brookline, Mass., they might resemble the women who crowd the lively novel The Ladies’ Man. At the center of the story are three sisters who live together in their deceased parents’ home, trying desperately to avoid being called spinsters. When a man who left one of them at the altar years ago returns to make peace, chaos results. In a deft balancing act, Elinor Lipman gets at heartache and familial truths with both honesty and humor. A-