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Dream When You're Feeling Blue: A Novel Hardcover – May 1, 2007

168 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A Rita Hayworth look-alike and her sister keep the home fires burning for young men going off to fight WWII in Berg's nostalgic tale of wartime romance and family sacrifice. Hoping her boyfriend, Julian, will propose before shipping out to the Pacific, beautiful redhead Kitty Heaney discovers not only is she not engaged, but she's enlisted as the delivery person for her sister Louise's engagement ring from Michael, her boyfriend, who has departed for the European front. Distance makes Louise's and Michael's hearts grow fonder while Kitty discovers independence through her job at a bomber factory. As the months go by, Louise learns she is pregnant and Kitty meets an attractive soldier (one of many the girls encounter) at a USO dance. As the young soldiers offer a range of feelings about war from humor to anger, wonder to despair, Berg (We Are All Welcome Here; The Handmaid and the Carpenter; 2000 Oprah pick Open House) captures changing attitudes toward working women and single mothers in this sentimental celebration of a bygone era. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The best-selling, prolific Berg has reimagined the biblical story of Mary and Joseph in Nazareth in he Handmaid and the Carpenter (2006) and re-created the turbulent civil rights drama of 1960s Mississippi in We Are All Welcome Here (2005). She sets her latest in Chicago during World War II, featuring three Irish Catholic sisters--Kitty, Louise, and Tish Heaney. The novel opens as Kitty and Louise say good-bye to their boyfriends at Union Station as they head off to war. Over the next three years, the sisters--amid the usual sibling squabbles over borrowed clothes and makeup--learn what it means to sacrifice during wartime. Kitty takes on an exhausting job at Douglas Aircraft; Louise, deeply in love with her boyfriend, keeps her worries to herself while writing him upbeat letters full of the news of home; and Trish spends her weekends at USO dances, promising to write to every soldier she meets. Berg makes the most of her Chicago setting, working in references to iconic institutions such as the old Marshall Field's department store and the Palmer House hotel. She also deftly mixes up the tone, moving easily between the wry dialogue of the long-married Heaney parents and the sad and affecting letters from the soldiers at the front. Although a final plot twist may not be fully credible, it does little to detract from this affectionate tribute to the patriotic 1940s and the women of the Greatest Generation. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400065100
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400065103
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,441,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elizabeth Berg won the NEBA Award for fiction for her body of work, and was a finalist for the ABBY for Talk Before Steep. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Ladies' Home Journal, Redbook, and the New York Times Magazine. She has also taught a writing workshop at Radcliffe College. She lives near Boston, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Karen E. Fauls-traynor on May 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I am surprised to read some of the other reviews of this book, because I found this to be one of Berg's best. As a child of the 60's, most of what I know of WW2 is from a historical perspective. Berg made the second World War come to life for me, and put it in human perspective. It was sobering to realize that the worry about the soldiers in Iraq now is not so much different from how people worried about the soldiers back then. Will we never learn? I've read other novels of WW2, but found it refreshing how Berg allowed the character of Kitty to grow and develop questions about the patriotism of the day.

Coming from an Irish family, the accounts of daily life with the Heaney's struck a chord with me.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Loves Books in MD VINE VOICE on June 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
After a book rich with details and and a story evolving slowly, the ending came in a rush with so many unanswered questions. With her usual style and skill, Elizabeth Berg draws well defined characters that you can almost picture in your mind like an old movie. With an ability to capture the essence of every day life unlike any other, she enables you to live along with the characters.

Perhaps as another reviewer suggested, the author will write a sequel to fill in the gaps from the end of the WW2 period to the conclusion of the book that will provide the detail that we all crave. A book written from the vantage point of each of the other sisters - Louise and Tish - or even the mother, Margaret (who was strong and interesting in the glimpse we got of her)- would be possible without being overly redundant.

Much as I enjoyed the book, I was disappointed in the ending because it cheated us of the same level of detail that the rest of the book provided. It was like buying a candy bar, eating half and finding the second half was cardboard. Yup, we got a dramatic conclusion, but it landed with a thunk.

More story, please.
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64 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A. Vernick on May 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Oh, I hoped this would be good. I expected it to be good; at her best, Berg is such a great writer. And I have to say that I wonder whether this book would have been published if it had been submitted to an editor by an unknown.

I appreciate when authors do research for their books, but the trick is to use it wisely, to not overpower the reader by showing off all you know. The whole time I read I was thinking, Yes, we know you did your research. It was period-detail-drenched.

Which would have been forgivable if I had fallen in love with the characters. I kept waiting to. Expecting to. And I never did. When Berg's at her best, you can see inside the souls of her characters. In DREAM WHEN YOU'RE FEELING BLUE, I felt like she gave a shallow portrayal that was only rich in period details.

And it must be said; it had the most wholly unsatisfying and unbelievable ending I've come across in a long, long time.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By B. Case TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I really loved "Dream When You're Feeling Blue" by Elizabeth Berg--that is, right up until the end. After reading the ending and thinking about it for a few days, I am sorry to say that I would not recommend this book. In my estimation, the ending is not believable.

The book tells the story of the tight-knit family living in Chicago during the later years of World War II. There are three older sisters and two younger brothers--and one bathroom that figures frequently and humorously throughout. The book focuses on the three sisters, all beautiful young women with the whole world at their doorstep. In the beginning, we follow the girls as they send their boyfriends off to war. In the following months, we watch them support the war by regularly attending USO dances, and corresponding with soldiers on the front. Much of the story is told through letters--letters of love, friendship, loneliness, hopelessness, homesickness, and terror. The telling is slow, which helps recreate the period; much time is spent developing the inner lives of the three sisters. It is time well-spent, for we really get to know these women, and care about their emotional well-being, especially Kitty, the independent sister, who wants much more out of life than the other two and is blessed with the sexy good looks of Rita Hayworth, to boot.

In this book, Berg was able to create a remarkable sense of place and time. I truly felt transported. The more I got into this book, the more I yearned to buy it for those few older friends of mine who actually lived through this period. I have heard so many personal stories about this period, but with this one book, I felt like I was living it myself.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By chercat on May 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As an avid fan of anything written by Elizabeth Berg, I was eagerly awaiting the publication of this book.

Although the book is well-written and the tone is reminiscent of other works by Ms.Berg, I must agree with others that this book was just not on a par with Durable Goods ,etc, and the characters were not as well-developed as I would have liked them to be.

That being said, there were parts of the book that were certainly enjoyable - there was real insight into the fear , anxiety , patriotism and loneliness that the young GI's suffered through along with the worry, heartbreak , pride and longing their sweethearts at home were experiencing .

I found the ending to be so unbelieveable and disappointing that it left me with bad taste in my mouth . Kitty, as the protagonist, was certainly the only character whose nature was fully explored and I could not reconcile the ending with the personality of this woman .

I will certainly continue to read anything by Elizabeth Berg because she and Anna Quindlen are my two favorite authors , but this was not her best work . Perhaps her other works were just so perfect that we as her readers and fans expected too much and not every book can be the piece de resistance of a collection .
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