Donna's Reviews > The Year of Pleasures

The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg
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Jun 04, 09

bookshelves: goodreads-first-reads, fiction
Read in May, 2009

It must be admitted I had some good reasons to be predisposed to like this book. Firstly, I won the book in a Goodreads give away. What's not to love about a free book!? Then it came in the mail, and it was by Elizabeth Berg, an author I've actually met & conversed with, not to mention read & enjoyed previously. All that being said, I actually loved the book.

Sometimes, not often, you come across a book that seems to be all about your life. The protagonist is speaking with your inner voice. This hasn't happened for me since Alice Hoffman's "Local Girls". Now there is this book about grief, the beginings of a new life, and rediscovering old friendships. The death of her husband is the starting point for "The Year of Pleasures" and follows the path that Betta Nolan takes honoring her husband's last wishes for her. It is one that requires her to leave behind all she's known and leads her forward to new relationships and back to friendships left behind.

Grief & it's many faces is a topic most of us are painfully familiar with. Berg doesn't touch a single wrong note describing Betta's internal struggle as she moves from the initial paralyzing grief to the realization, as life goes inexorably on, that our lost ones not only want us to go on, they want us to be happy. Okay, I wept. It all felt terribly familiar to me.

The part of the book I loved most, and wished there was more of, was Betta's rediscovery of old friends. I'm sure we've all had those friends that we thought would be there for all our lives, but don't have even the faintest idea where they are 20 years down the line. It was a singular joy to observe two of my best friends rediscovering each other after one's husband passed away. It was a conversation restarted as though they'd been together the day before. Simply beautiful and as effortless as Betta's reconnection with the women who were her friends in college. I certainly wanted to hear the details of Lorraine & Tom's double date.

Full of characters written cleanly & honestly & emotions that echo your own without the overwrought manipulation some authors resort to. This book was well worth the sunny afternoons on my patio, even if the neighbors must think I looked pretty strange with my beverage on one side & a pile of used Kleenex on the other.

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