Beth F.'s Reviews > The Year of Pleasures

The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg
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Jul 07, 09

bookshelves: goodreads-first-reads, it-made-me-cry, 2009, general-fiction, tnbbc-summer-2009
Read in July, 2009

Elizabeth Berg has a way with words, that’s for sure. Although I’m not entirely convinced that the appeal of her stories have universal draw for all women. I was 22 or 23 when I read Open House by Elizabeth Berg and I didn’t particularly care for it. I couldn’t identify with the main character and so the emotional aspect of the book fell flat for me.

After the passage of several years, my life at the time of reading my second Elizabeth Berg novel is dramatically different and I suspect that was a contributing factor in my higher rating this time around. However, I can’t justify giving this book anything above 3 stars because even though it made me cry and even though I intend to pass it on to an older woman now that I’m done with it (either my mom or my mother-in-law), it didn’t speak to me like it might speak to someone who was in a similar situation or similar demographic as the main character, the recently widowed Betta Nolan, age 55.

I am married, so I can imagine (to some extent) what it would be like to lose my husband to an unexpected illness. But I’m also a newlywed, married less than a year and I don’t want to imagine what it would be like to lose my husband. Since we’re both young and in good health, I have the luxury of ignoring those thoughts and what-ifs and of telling myself that the possibility of something like that happening is prayerfully still decades away. But the main character even admits at one point that becoming a widow at 55 is not the same as being widowed at 35 or 85. At 35 you could marry again. Those around you might even expect it. And at 85 there is comfort in knowing that it’s only temporary and your own death isn’t too terribly far off either.

One important aspect of this book that did catch my attention is the whole concept of women friends. When Betta got married, she lost touch with some of her best female friends and after his death, feels compelled to track them down and reconnect. They do, and it turns out to be a very, very good thing.

On several occasions, my mom has solicited advice to me on the importance of keeping female friends and making new female friends whenever the opportunity arises. They can be fun to be around when things are going okay and they can helpful in more ways than you can ever imagine when things aren’t okay. We’ve also discussed our own friendships with women who are in different age brackets than our own and reached the conclusion that 10-15 years in either direction, give or take, seems to be the best place to make true friends. Any more or less than that and you tend to end up with a friendship that is based more on becoming or having a mentor, which I’m not saying is a bad thing, but it is different than the kinship than can result from having a friend who is relatively close to your own age. The point being that this was how I felt while reading this book. The main character is 25 years older than I am and so reading this book I felt drawn to her in the way a daughter might feel drawn to a mother whereas there might be a bigger draw for a reader who feels connected to the main character as a friend to a another friend.

So not a bad book overall, but for me it definitely read like a Lifetime movie that was filmed for the benefit of somebody else.
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Reading Progress

07/05/2009 page 1
0.45% "Finally found/unpacked my books so can start reading a few books I own instead of just library books - I love the cover on this one! Yum."
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Sarah (new)

Sarah You won two? Bitch.

I lost the link to these!


Beth F. I've won 6!


message 3: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I don't even like you!

Gimme the link. :)


message 5: by Tammy (new)

Tammy Great review B!


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