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Talk Before Sleep

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,037 Ratings  ·  678 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 are 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 Rut ...more
Hardcover, 210 pages
Published February 1st 2004 by Turtleback Books (first published 1993)
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Wormie
Mar 31, 2007 Wormie rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Connie
Elizabeth Berg is an expert at writing dialogue between women, and expressing how women draw strength and understanding from their close female friends. In "Talk Before Sleep" Ann Stanley is helping to care for her best friend, Ruth Thomas, in her losing fight with metastatic breast cancer. She is joined by three other friends of Ruth who each offer support in their own way.

Ann is a former nurse, a quiet woman who is devoted to her family. Ruth, an artist, is more unconventional and spontaneous.
...more
Deanna
Apr 09, 2015 Deanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when it was first written and then again a few years ago.
I gave it to my mother to read as well as a few friends. It became a favorite and remains one still.

I was about 21 when it first came out. I was interested in the friendships of the women in the story and now that I am older I feel I relate even more to the issues surrounding them.
Elizabeth Berg knows how to write about women.

This is a novel about true friendship, love, and loss. The feelings of love the friends have for
...more
Julie Ehlers
This is a novel about two middle-aged women, Ruth and Ann, best friends, one of whom is dying of cancer, the other of whom is taking care of her. The scenes concerning Ruth's illness are interspersed with flashback-style scenes depicting Ruth and Ann's friendship in the years before she became sick. The scenes regarding Ruth's cancer and Ann's caretaking were sometimes beautiful and wise. The flashback scenes were typical women's fiction stuff where they complained endlessly about their husbands ...more
Nancy
Aug 04, 2008 Nancy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sara Steger
Dec 23, 2015 Sara Steger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the kind of novel I normally don't love to read. It is probably chick lit and it is definitely meant to be a tear-jerker. The thing is, I have watched the slow death of someone I love and I think Berg probably has as well. She gets some of the most important aspects of that right.

"How is it that we dare to honk at others in traffic, when we know nothing about where they have just come from or what they are on their way to?"

"I remember the exact order of the canned soup in the cupboard,
...more
Shari Larsen
A beautifully told story about two best friends, Ann and Ruth, and what happens after Ruth is diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. Not only is Ann by her side, but also Ruth's small but eclectic group of her other friends gather by her side also, and each person helps Ruth in her own unique way.


I was drawn to this story because I also have terminal breast cancer, and I was glad to see the author tackle this subject (she also lost a good friend to breast cancer) and tell the truth about it; tha
...more
Whitney
Mar 19, 2007 Whitney rated it really liked it  ·  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
Teri
Jul 18, 2008 Teri rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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.
Lynne Spreen
Oct 01, 2015 Lynne Spreen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: midlife
Most of us read to be enlightened or moved. This book did both. On one level, it's a story about girlfriends, and how women need each other. On another, and this is the main theme I think, it's about treasuring what you have and treating yourself well in your own life. There's a scene in here about Ann preparing a fussy, precisely made breakfast for Ruth, who is sick. Ruth aggravates Ann by sending her back to the kitchen to improve the meal. Ann thinks, What a bitch! But complies. And then when ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Nov 08, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it did not like it  ·  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
Katie
Apr 21, 2008 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Michelegg
Feb 03, 2009 Michelegg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 really liked it  ·  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
Debbie
Mar 15, 2008 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Linda
Feb 01, 2014 Linda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a friendship between two very different women. Ann, a pretty traditional homemaker/mother and her best friend, Ruth, who is "beautiful and flamboyant"---quite unlike Ann. No spoiler here: from the beginning of the book, you learn that Ruth is dying of late stage breast cancer, and is being cared for at her home by numerous friends, the closest of whom is Ann. Despite the sad situation of Ruth's dying, I found her to be a very unlikeable, selfish and shallow person, and had a h ...more
Ginger
May 05, 2015 Ginger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won't rest until I've read every word Elizabeth Berg has written, but though her writing was, of course, beautiful, I didn't like these characters.

If the main character hadn't been sick (no spoiler alert, you learn this on page six, or the back cover, if you read those), I wouldn't have felt any sympathy for her character. She was selfish and unlikeable.

Still EB brings even a mediocre book about illness up with her prose and themes.

If you want to read a beautiful book about women and friendshi
...more
Lynna
Mar 09, 2011 Lynna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Carole
May 30, 2008 Carole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Peggy
May 06, 2008 Peggy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Susan
Jun 18, 2009 Susan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
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!

--Literally!
...more
Joy Olivia
Jan 08, 2008 Joy Olivia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Stephanie Holcomb
Aug 23, 2016 Stephanie Holcomb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two years ago, today, I lost my mother to colon cancer. Today, I decided I needed to finish this book through. I don't know if that was the best or worst choice to make today, but I made that choice. A few days ago, I put it down and almost didn't pick it back up, and it was for the stupidest reason -- the explanation of Ruth getting bigger prosthetic breasts, going from "a 34 A to a 38 C." No, it didn't bother me that she went bigger, it was the number the irked me -- that's the measurement aro ...more
Missy
May 29, 2014 Missy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Deborah Scott
Oct 02, 2015 Deborah Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit upfront I am a huge Elizabeth Berg fan and consider her to be one of my favorite authors. She has a knack for drawing the reader in with relatable characters and storylines but also manages to teach the reader a valuable life lesson or at least make them really sit back and see a situation in a different or broader light. In this book, I loved the strong female characters and how their friendships grew stronger in even the most difficult of times. Despite their differences in personal ...more
Oona
Mar 18, 2013 Oona rated it really liked it  ·  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
Elizabeth
Feb 03, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jessica Clayton
I recently did a search online for authors similar to Anita Shreve and came across Elizabeth Berg. This is the first book I've read of hers. It wasn't horrible. It was a very quick read (quite like Shreve) but really had no "hook." I like having the element of the unknown when reading a book and with this one you basically know where it's going. I wouldn't recommend the book to anyone looking for a good page-turner! However, if you enjoy reading memoirs or if you are possibly coping with a loss ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Talk Before Sleep 2 3 Jan 27, 2013 03:12PM  
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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
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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.” 292 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.” 67 likes
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