Monday, June 28, 2010

"The Year of Pleasures" by Elizabeth Berg

ANOTHER book by this woman! I think I've said it before but I'll say it again. I'm not impressed by the author's bio or how she got to be so well published, but I like her "voice" for telling stories. This novel is the story of a woman who has recently lost her husband. She moves out of Boston and ends up in a small town outside of Chicago. Elizabeth Berg lives in Chicago so this is territory she should know well. The story tells how our narrator settles herself into her new life. A couple of times I felt tears in my eyes reading this. So yes, I liked it. Another excellent piece of "chic lit" I think.
The Amazon reviews say this:

From Publishers Weekly

The familiar protagonist of Berg's 13th novel (after The Art of Mending) is a Boston widow of several months, 55-year-old Betta Nolan, who fulfills her dying husband's dream of moving out to the Midwest and starting a new life. "It will give me peace to know that what you will do is exactly what we talked about," says John commandingly before dying of liver cancer; Betta, an author of children's books, sells their Beacon Hill brownstone and takes off, buying an oversized Victorian in the small town of Stewart, Ill., 49 miles from Chicago. Lonely, she finds herself tracking down three former college roommates from the late 1960s, Lorraine, Maddy and Susanna, whom she ditched once she met John. The women reappear one by one and help give her the courage to open a shop called What a Woman Wants (it'll sell "all different stuff that women loved. Beautiful things, but unusual too. Like antique birdcages with orchids growing in them"). Meanwhile, she begins to make friends in town, notably with attractive young handyman Matthew and natty oldster Tom Bartlett. Berg is a pro at putting together an affecting saga of interest to women of a certain age, yet here she seems to be writing in her sleep. There is little effort at cohesion—rather, a kind of serendipitous plot that goes every which way and a series of tentative, aborted romances. The impression readers will be left with is of a woman endlessly nurturing and rarely satisfied.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Berg is a true women’s writer whose latest exploration of one woman’s joys and sorrows will not disappoint. Her 14th novel (after 2004’s The Art of Mending) asks how we can find personal connections and transform our lives. Unlike many novels, it actually provides satisfying, if slightly formulaic, answers. Critics agree that the characters, from a college student to Betta’s single-mom neighbor, stand out for their empathic, realistic portrayals. Berg’s poetic language and command of small details relating to character and scenery impressed critics as well. Yet Year of Pleasures may not be Berg’s best effort to date. A few reviewers criticized a relatively weak plot with its obvious message about love, life, and finding the pleasures in ordinary things—even if it’s all true.

--And I think these are good reviews so I'll leave it at that. Check it out at your library. A nice weekend read!