Talk Before Sleep
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Talk Before Sleep

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  7,096 ratings  ·  541 reviews
What do women talk about when they know they don't have forever? They talk about what they have always talked about, only they go deeper and more honest: with outrageous humor they try to mitigate pain. Intimate and uncensored sharing, the kind of connection women prize, is at the heart of this deeply moving novel about the grit and power of female friends.

Ann and Ruth hav...more
Kindle Edition, 241 pages
Published (first published 1993)
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Mar 31, 2007 Wormie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women over 35

Talk Before Sleep is a novel that overwhelmed me. I became totally involved with the characters, and find myself unable to analyze this book or discuss it unemotionally. It is a novel that I actually “felt” – the emotion is real, strong, and beautiful, and if there are flaws with the book’s structure, I am unable to identify them. The experience of reading this novel was rich, personal and deeply moving.

Talk Before Sleep is a novel about women and about the bonds between them. It is a story abo...more
I'm not sure why I picked this book up from the library. I thought this was going to be about female bonding and the nature of close female friends... unfortunately, it was a dramatic (although probably accurate) look at one woman's friend dying of breast cancer. Neither women are particularly endearing, however; there's nothing inspiring about their plight pre-cancer, and Berg's writing doesn't help either. I'd be better off reading Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants again.
Katie Abbott Harris
In this heartbreaking novel about love and letting go, Ann chronicles the powerful story of her best friend Ruth's struggle with breast cancer: from diagnosis, to denial, to fear, and finally to acceptance, as well as sharing her own experience in coping with the tragic truth and nurturing her friend as best as she can. The author superbly captures the female experience, both in the dialogue and actions of the characters. All of her characters are realistic and so easy to relate to, and she real...more
Mar 19, 2007 Whitney rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women who know what it's like to have a true friend in another woman
Quick read, but very deep very best. Your typical two best women friends - one is outgoing, free-spirited & artistic, the other is quiet, reserved & safe. The fun one gets a terminal illness, the safe one narrates. And that's where the "run-of-the-mill" feel ends. The does a beautiful job of telling a story without overdoing it, and painting a picture of what it's like to love someone who's dying without doing the experience the injustice of making everything neat and predictible. Having...more
What an incredible book. I bawled my eyes out. Ms. Berg just made the emotion of losing a dear friend to breast cancer so real. This was a book of incredible friendship and love. It reminded me how important it is to be happy in the moment, to find joy in the people in your life. I loved the quirky characters, they were all so real by the end of the book.

This was just an amazingly beautiful book. Everytime I feel a breeze, I'll be reminded of this book and of the eternity of friendships and our...more
This was the second Elizabeth Berg book I have read. A co-worker was moved by this book and recommended it. I just don't seem to connect with this particular author. Especially with this topic, I didn't feel as much as I think I should.
Kim Whitley-Gaynor
This is one of my favorite books of all time. It's a little gem. I gave a copy to my aunt after her sister died of cancer. She loved it. I highly recommend it.
Havebooks Willread
Mar 19, 2014 Havebooks Willread rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Havebooks by: Misti Picton
I don't know what it is about Berg, but she just seems to GET people. I think I'm going to have to search out more of her books for the characterization alone. I don't necessarily love the characters--or even like them--but they are so multi-dimensional and react like real people that I can't help but get sucked in.

This particular book is about women's friendships. Phew--complicated, right? Now add in that Ruth is dying from breast cancer and it gets even more complicated.

I could chat and chat...more
♥ Marlene♥
Probably not the right book for me at this time of my life. My oldest sister is dying from colon cancer and my dad was diagnosed this year with the same sickness, colon cancer but hopefully we were on time.

With all hat I have been thinking about death a lot over the last few months.

I have read about 65% of it and yes it is hard but still a good book with some interesting parts that I highlighted on my kindle;

This one. "I want to mean something,I want it to matter that I am here"
"Ah Make your mar...more
Mar 15, 2008 Debbie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Friends, anyone,
I have read this book about 10 times. I recommend it to my friends and have been known to buy this for friends. I have given this to friends and never gotten back and then bought it again because I have to have it in my "library".

It's a book about friends, three friends, who are drawn closer because of one friends illness, cancer. It's about the progress of her disease and what it does to her friends and their friendship.

I love this author. She was in KC once and I went and listened to her as sh...more
This book enabled me to survive and HONOR my lovely sister Leslie's journey through ovarian cancer. She also read the book long before her diagnosis. When she got the message she was terminal I told her I would be her "talk before sleep". She knew exactly what that meant and that I would honor her talking about death. HARD as it may have been, I don't think I would have been as prepared with out this story. READ this WAY BEFORE you need this and please be sure to honor the ability to share someo...more
This book is not for you if you are looking for adventure and great plot twists.Berg tells you before the book begins "Not long ago, I lost a very important friend to breast cancer. I wanted to write about my experience in a fictional way, to create characters and events that, although imagined, would testify to the emotional truth of all that happened."

I laughed and cried through this book. I called my best friends to tell them how very much I loved them.

I loved Berg's celebration of the sacre...more
This is one of my favorite books...and Berg is one of my favorite authors. I came across this book when my friend was in college--she was minoring in drama and had to do a "dramatic reading" from this text. I've read it and even listened to it on audio many times...and it never fails to bring me to a place of both overwhelming sadness and sincere thankfulness for my life and the people who have graced it. The pureness of the emotions in this book cleanses me. I feel emotionally drained, yet utte...more
Joy Olivia
If you have ever lost a loved one who is also a dear friend to cancer, specifically breast cancer, pick up Talk Before Sleep next time you are at your local library or bookstore. With the turn of the pages I laughed and smiled, and I also cried. It helped me in a unique way to deal with the grief I still have over the death of my lovely and wonderful Aunt Diana last fall. Berg manages to put into eloquent words so many situations and feelings that just ring true. Highly recommended.
How in the world did I not know about Elizabeth Berg?!! This is a fantastic book. I found myself taking notes w/in the first couple of chapters. This is always a great sign. I love authors who write w/ such intelligence that it saturates the story page by page. You would think that there is nothing funny about cancer and there isn't, about the disease itself....BUT! In order to have the strength to deal w/ it the characters, very naturally, did find things to laugh about. This was quite a pleasa...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Nov 08, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
I wish I could have liked this at all given the subject and inspiration for the novel. It's a story told by Ann in first person about her best friend Ruth who is dying of cancer. The story is mostly told in present tense, but there are frequent flashbacks telling us about their friendship in the past tense. I don't have complaints about the style. It's fine, even if not something that invokes writer's envy. My problem is that the story and characters left me cold.

A note from the author says the...more
This book was surprisingly good, and I say surprisingly because I've always thought Berg was light. Not that this is deep, but it is written with perspective and compassion and feeling without ever getting preachy. So what's it about?
It's about Ruth who is dying of breast cancer, and Ann - who has to watch her slow decline. And it's not black and white, or clear as to who has the roughest time or learns more from the other. And that was the part that I liked the most because it was a reflection...more
Oona Stieglitz
Mar 18, 2013 Oona Stieglitz rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Oona by: other Berg books
Much has been written about this book and this author, so I'll attempt to add something new.

A deep focus, realistic and intense view of a group of friends encircling their friend who is dying of cancer. Some quotes that resonated for me:

"There is value and comfort in being here and understanding what matters most is only who you were to someone else."

"One thing I have always been is too short. It's adorable when you're in junior high. After that, it's a pain in the ass for the rest of your life....more
Feb 03, 2008 Elizabeth rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: My mother
Elizabeth Berg is one of my favorite authors. I dive right into her books with their compelling story lines and rich characters. Talk Before Sleep was the first book of hers I read. It made me realize at once that I was blessed with the kind of friend that many people never get to have and that I was a selfish, scared woman who nearly lost this rare gem of a friend. I immediately took action to repair this precious gift.

This story speaks of the bond, the love, that can only exist between two wom...more
Hard to say which is more depressing: reading this book or seeing a beloved household pet get run over by a car.

The Hartford Courant calls this book "A Triumph". A triumph over what? Joy? Happiness? A direct quote from the book: "I haven't yet let myself feel how grateful I am to be back in my own bed, but I know it's coming. And I know I'd better get ready. Because feeling good will feel awful."

The writing was fine, the sentiments expressed intelligently, but for crying out loud!

This is a book that celebrates the friendship of women, but in a very special way. Ann met Ruth at a party and it was hate at first sight. She just wasn't Ann's kind of person, but after the two of them get drunk together in the party's bathroom Ruth realizes that she may just have found the person who is going to be her best friend. "Until that moment, I hadn't realized how much I'd been needing to meet someone I might be able to say everything to."

The two women do, indeed become best friends,...more
while the main character, ruth, is a bit crass at times, i found the frankness in which she dealt with her death to be thought provoking. it's a good story about female friendships and the strength that women can find in each other.

if you enjoy this book, i recommend "the year of magical thinking" by joan didion. it is a really well written look at the grief process.
I read this on Halloween, the birthday of the sister I lost a year and a half ago, a date which happens also to be 10th anniversary of my mother's burial. Talk before Sleep is a disarmingly simple and short chronicle of women friends saying goodbye in the face of death. It is intelligent and genuine, and I won't forget these women, their friendship, their conversation and their love.
Very touching, but the friendship feels uneven and a little co-dependent (on Ann's part). Is it mean to say I didn't like a dying lady?? 'cause I wasn't crazy about Ruth. But I did cry, and I loved the portrayal of a community of women. The book was also a little too hard on men, I thought (Ann's husband seemed like a lovely man, and she was pretty hard on him!)
I've just finished this excellent book. I connected more with the women at the end, maybe because I don't have a very close girlfriend at the moment. Elizabeth is so very good at writing about normal everyday situations beautifully. She really does seem to understand how we women think and feel. Just brilliant. I definitely want to read more of her books.
I read this book as a selection for my book club. At first I thought, "Oh no, not another depressing book!" but I was wrong.

Although the topic was sad, I did not find the book depressing at all! This is the story of a woman dying of breast cancer and of her friends who take care of her, each in her own way. One friend approaches things from a very practical level, helping check out grave sites and assisting with legal issues; another friend continues to pursue cures enabling continuing hope, so...more
I started to read this book, but couldn't really get into it. Its very depressing, and nothing really happened in the first 1/3 of the book.

From what I could tell, its about a women to completely ignores her husband and child to be with this dying women and her weird friends.
Jun 17, 2008 Heather rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Heather by: B&N Bookclub
This book follows the different phases of Ruth as she comes to term with her imminent death. The characters were mostly one-sided and the subject of faith or religion in view of approaching death was completely absent.
I can't remember another book where I felt so compelled to write down so many passages. Elizabeth Berg has a rare talent to go far beyond what most can only dream to put into words.
I love this book and it makes me cry every time I read it. I've never read another book that expresses the friendship between women better than this.
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Elizabeth Berg is the New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including We Are All Welcome Here, The Year of Pleasures, The Art of Mending, Say When, True to Form, Never Change, and Open House, which was an Oprah’s Book Club selection in 2000. Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year, and Talk Before Sleep was short-listed for the ABBY Award in 1996. The w...more
More about Elizabeth Berg...
Open House What We Keep The Year of Pleasures The Art of Mending Home Safe

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“I hadn't realized how much I'd been needing to meet someone I might be able to say everything to.” 284 likes
“I always think incipent miracles surround us, waiting only to see if our faith is strong enough. We won't have to understand it; it will just work, like a beating heart, like love. Really, no matter how frightened and discouraged I may become about the future, I look forward to it. In spite of everything I see all around me every day, I have a shaky assurance that everything will turn out fine. I don't think I'm the only one. Why else would the phrase "everything's all right" ease a deep and troubled place in so many of us? We just don't know, we never know so much, yet we have such faith. We hold our hands over our hurts and lean forward, full of yearning and forgiveness. It is how we keep on, this kind of hope.” 66 likes
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