By Jennifer Armstrong
Updated June 20, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Dr. Alice Thrift uses her surgical internship as an excuse to cut off any hint of social interaction before things get messy, pleading exhaustion and fabricating emergencies to duck out of dates — and even dinner with Mom. Then sleazy fudge salesman Ray Russo walks into her Boston hospital and chips away her resistance until she’s thawing her ”hypothermic” bedside manner, joining him for a naked sub-sandwich-eating session, and eventually eloping with him. Lipman takes you so far into Alice’s hyper-logical brain that you truly believe, as Alice wants to, that Ray could be her savior — even though the book, The Pursuit of Alice Thrift, first chapter reveals that he’ll end up ”a husband of short duration.” From the relationship wreckage, Alice emerges as an anti — Bridget Jones: a smart, centered woman who doesn’t get the guy — and ends up better for it.