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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.
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Berg is a true womens writer whose latest exploration of one womans joys and sorrows will not disappoint. Her 14th novel (after 2004s 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 Bettas single-mom neighbor, stand out for their empathic, realistic portrayals. Bergs poetic language and command of small details relating to character and scenery impressed critics as well. Yet Year of Pleasures may not be Bergs 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 thingseven if its all true.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Editorial Reviews
This book didn't catch my interest the way some of her books have.Published 1 month ago by Deborah H. Rudolf
Superb writing. The characters were so real - I enjoyed every page. Highly recommend.Published 2 months ago by Pam
Elizabeth Berg's way of writing that draws you right in. I always enjoy reading her books.Published 3 months ago by Margrete Koreska
Another touching, relatable novel from my favorite author! I highly recommend this story to all ages and phases in life - puts things in perspective.Published 3 months ago by Stacy Nelsen
A difficult topic, and yet a fairly pleasant, if predictable, read. I thought the beginning of the story was very well done, but many of the new relationships the protagonist... Read morePublished 3 months ago by S. J. Flanagan
Not sure what the point of this book was. There really is no ending to the story. Would never recommend th I s book.Published 3 months ago by Dianne M. Crowe