I think Elizabeth Berg is a wonderful writer, and she always manages to tug at my heartstrings (some of her books are downright weepy) and make me cry a little at the sadness of life, and then at the resilience of human nature and the hopefulness and humor of life. So I can’t believe I have to say this about her newest book, which I was super excited to get-it wasn’t that great. I didn’t cry. Didn’t feel that connected to the characters. It felt very much like an outline of one of her books, rather than the actual book.
It started out with great promise-Cecilia is a motivational speaker whose very best friend died a few months ago. That, combined with the memory of her friend telling her to take a break from work and get out there and do stuff, is the catalyst she needs to stop work and sell her house. She spontaneously moves in to a house that has 3 women living in it. The next thing you know they are all off on a road trip for their own personal closure type adventures. Renie to meet the daughter she gave up for adoption, Cecilia to connect with the love of her youth, another to meet up with her ex-husband, and I don’t even remember the last. It all felt so sketched out and not fully realized. I didn’t feel invested in the characters’ stories at all or believe in any kind of relationship between the four women.. Also, I literally could not tell how old Cece was supposed to be. You might think that doesn’t make a difference, but it does. Was she elderly? Her own mother was still living so she couldn’t have been that old. But was she of another generation than the women she was living with? Was she in her 40s or 70s? It was strange to not know, and also then I wasn’t sure how much of an urgency she felt to get out there and do things.
I hate to say that I wouldn’t recommend an Elizabeth Berg book, but she has so many better books you could spend your time reading. This fell really short for me.
Hurrah! An Elizabeth Berg novel that didn’t make me weep! This is the story of a final (why final? I thought it was weird that they stated it was the last one) high school reunion. Everyone attending it has different reasons for doing so, which we see by seeing the various characters in their home lives before seeing them at the actual reunion. Now in their sixties a lot has happened to everyone in the intervening years, and yet some types stayed the same-the football hero who wants to get laid, the cheerleader pining for the football hero, the quiet overlooked kids, etc.
I thought it was hilarious that my mother (close in age to these characters) got all heated up and bent out of shape about the characters and how some of them clung to their high school behaviors. So what? There wouldn’t be a good story if they didn’t. Besides, you can’t tell me that some people never mature or change.
Although this was not a Berg weeper, there was still heartfelt emotion in the story. Definitely much lighter than her other novels, though.
Oh, how I love Elizabeth Berg books! So warm and satisfying, usually bittersweet and a little melancholy. This one was a bit different from her others in that it is historical. Set during WWII it is the story of two sisters (Kitty and Louise) and their sweethearts (Michael, Julian, and Hank). Rich with details of USO dances, women working in factories, a family of 8 in a tiny house (3 sisters, 3 brothers), and other details of life on the homefront. Actually, there are also many details of the men’s service overseas (in both the Pacific and European theaters of war). A central part of the story is the letters the sisters write every night to not only their sweethearts, but also to various men they meet at the dances. These letters are where the girls pour out their hearts and relationships flourish and wither. The thing about a war novel is that you know at least one of the characters is not going to make it home–it’s just a matter of which one. Continue reading