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The Year of Pleasures

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  12,223 ratings  ·  1,400 reviews
In this rich and deeply satisfying novel by the beloved author of The Art of Mending, and Open House, a resilient woman embarks upon an unforgettable journey of adventure, self-discovery, and renewal.

Betta Nolan moves to a small town after the death of her husband to try to begin anew. Pursuing a dream of a different kind of life, she is determined to find pleasure in her
Paperback, 206 pages
Published March 28th 2006 by Ballantine (first published January 1st 2005)
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3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,223 ratings  ·  1,400 reviews

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Dec 02, 2007 rated it it was ok
Over the past few years, there have been some standouts dealing with women rediscovering themselves. Lolly Winston's "Good Grief" comes immediately to mind, as does Sue Monk Kidd's "The Mermaid Chair." Going back a bit further, Berg's own "Pull of the Moon" is a classic in its descriptive realism -- one of the author's many strengths.

Unfortunately, "Year of Pleasures" comes nowhere close to Berg's best. It is shallow, even with its topic -- the death of a spouse. It is unbelievable, even with i
“'There is love in holding,’ he’d said. ‘And there is love in letting go.’”

This was a lovely, sweet book, but it reminded me why my usual fare leans toward gritty realism. It’s a little annoying to read about characters with seemingly bottomless pocketbooks, or to grieve for the dearly departed portrayed as flawless mates.

But I need a break from intensity sometimes, and this was a satisfying one. As I moved through the story I put aside my cynicism and began to see things weren’t as whitewashed
There is something really comforting about this book and in they way that the author has written this. I know its about death and new beginnings which is emotional, but its also like putting on your favourite snuggly clothes. I really like the way Elizabeth Berg describes the ordinariness of life in such a sumptuous way. I think I could read this book more than once and that I'd feel satisfied every time I read it. The characters and situations are so real and easy to like and get involved with. ...more
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
Oct 09, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: chick-lit
This was sort of a wimpy novel. Not bad. Not that good. I didn't hate it. It's a hallmark card of a book. Newly single woman makes a life for herself kind of a book. Not much tension. Not much deep insight. Just sort of blah, but a sweet blah. Twinkies are a sweet blah. So is "The Year of Pleasures."
3.5 stars:
I love Elizabeth Berg, she is a go to author for me. That said, I did not find this to be her best. I thought I would relate better, being a widow, with Betta and was ready to take this journey with her. I thought I would cry and laugh with her. However, I found her a bit flat and did not bond with her as I had hoped.

Everyone takes the widows journey in different ways, we are all different people, with different relationships and experiences. However, there are some things that are s
May 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
For unknown reasons, probably just coincidence of book pile-up, I seem to have read several books about grief in the last few months. While this one is not characterized by any particular depth of insight or profundities, I found tears running down my face several times as the middle-aged protagonist learns to cope with the early days and months after her husband's death from cancer. The focus is on her decision to move to a new town and begin a new life, which she does very quickly after his de ...more
Lynne Spreen
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: midlife
This is the kind of book I MOST like to read: a novel about learning how to live differently in the second half of life. I highlighted so many passages that I ended up also buying the paperback to keep on my bookshelf. (There will be a list of those truths or observations on my blog post of April 24, 2015. After that date, click here to see them.) I enjoyed this book very much and recommend it, especially for people over fifty who are trying to figure out how to live now.

The reasons I didn't giv
4.5 stars. I read this book pre-GR (over ten years ago) and had forgot a lot of it. It's a wonderful book that will make you feel the grief of, and recovery from, the death of a spouse. It takes place for the most part in the Chicago suburbs. It's not exactly a feel-good read throughout, but a worthwhile one, and the reader is left with hope by the end.

Some of the themes include friendship, marriage, death, aging, life stages, community and healing. The audiobook is performed by the author, who
Aug 07, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction-general
From my blog:
I couldn't quite get into The Year of Pleasures, written by Elizabeth Berg, although the subject matter was important - how a woman begins life again after her husband unexpectedly dies.

This story was just too neat, and Bette Nolan's life during the year after her husband died just doesn't ring true to me. Nothing is so easy.

The book might be a good summer read, when one doesn't want to concentrate too much on anything. I would say it ranks very high under a list I would call roman
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
I rated this novel 4 stars not because it's the most outstanding novel of all time. Surely there are more deserving books. No disrespect to Ms. Berg whatsoever. But this book is well written and speaks to us concerning the life we are living now. So many cliches have told us to, "stop and smell the roses," or "don't take things for granted," and "appreciate what you have," and on and on. The character in this book looses her husband to cancer at the age of 50 or 55. They had an incredible marria ...more
Oct 17, 2013 rated it did not like it
The book started out okay. I could feel Betta's grief and recognized it, but then nothing else was relatable. She wasn't a likable character at all, petty, judgmental, rude and selfish. The too perfect husband only left me disliking the character more because I could not feel one ounce of pity beyond the first chapter or so, as Betta never had one ounce of hardship in her life until her husband's death yet she was constantly finding fault with everything around her.

She was rude to the man who me
Jill Kalz
Jun 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
I'd wanted to like this -- I thought the book synopsis sounded interesting, I'd heard good things about the author -- but unfortunately, nothing rang true in this story for me, not the characters, their situations, the details, nor the dialogue. I felt as though I were reading a screenplay for a shallow, sanitized Lifetime made-for-TV-movie: instead of people, characters; instead of a community, a set; instead of conversations, lines of poorly scripted dialogue. Of course the small midwestern to ...more
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
just an absolutely phenomenal book. if you are female, you should read this book. if you've ever been in love, you should read this book. if you've ever THOUGHT about being in love, you should read this book. I laughed and cried in the same paragraph, multiple times. please read this book, then come have a glass of wine and finish your cry with me.
Apr 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Light feel good novel about a women's life after she losses her husband. It reminded me of a hallmark movie but good summer read.
May 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Very disappointing -not the usual realistic, authentic writing that one normally enjoys from Elizabeth Berg. Betta Nolan is a grieving widow who moves to a small town because she promised her dying husband - who by all accounts seems to have been a saint from her description of him. She struggles to come to terms with his death as they were insanely in love (bearing in mind they are both middle-aged). Conveniently, a number of characters enter her life - a perfectly well behaved 10 year old boy ...more
Jun 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book by Elizabeth Berg was lovely. It follows Betta, a 50-something widow, along her path of grief following the death of her beloved husband. The book, however, was a bit too "enchanted" for me....even though Betta was suffering from the loss of her husband, somehow things just fell into place too easily for her. Finding the perfect house the first day in a new town, and having friends rush to her aid after not corresponding with them for 30 years --these were things that were just too goo ...more
Oct 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Relyn by: I've loved Elizabeth Berg for a long, long time.
This is a book I come back to again and again. I literally have no idea of how many times I've read it. I love Berg's descriptions of lovely things. I love the idea of being able to pick up the threads of friendships again after years of neglect. I want to shop in her shop. I love that the marriage was good. I just love this book.
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I believe this story delved into the whole wide range of emotions involved with grieving the passing of a loved one and attempting to move on with one's life. This was a deeply satisfying story with characters I would love to have in my life.
Diane Chamberlain
Sep 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A gentle and uplifting story of a woman coming back to life after losing her husband. Berg always leaves me satisfied.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
I don’t think this is her typical work bc it is poorly written, full of cliches and worn out phrases. Even the title...really, her perfect husband dies and it’s a year of pleasures. She sells her house for over a million with no difficulty and drives away to a small town at random. Buys a great house for about a third of what her old house sold for. And she has no messy children to clutter the story.

It sounds like a fantasy story for someone who hates her husband and can get into a dream of him
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Not sure why I finished this book. Maybe because it was short. A few hidden gems in it. Too few.
Apr 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book, could hardly put it down, but after it was over I did feel a little dissatisfied. The review below has some good points, the plot does wander a bit, but the story kept me interested. I enjoyed reading about their marriage, a marriage that was happy and fulfilling (like mine) and I could easily put myself in Betta’s place and experience what it would be like to grieve the loss of a soul mate. I liked the fact that she had all the money she needed, at least tha ...more
Paul Seymour
Jan 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Prior to reading The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg I had read a couple of heavy, long novels. I had wanted something that was a faster read so my wife suggested this book. I make it a habit to read a blurb of each novel before I start it and I also enjoy reading the reviews prior to starting a book. After doing so I didn't expect much. The reviews were not very encouraging and the novel summary offered no real appeal.
However, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it.....with reserv
Apr 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Elizabeth Berg’s newest novel, The Year of Pleasures, finds its central character, Etta Nolan, devastated by the death of her husband. The two of them had been so devoted to each other, so compatible and so self-contained. “Complete unto yourselves,” in the words of Sheila, her neighbor, who found this off-putting. Unable to have children, Etta and John decided not to adopt, although they both loved children. She lost touch with her college roommates, from whom she had been inseparable, and had ...more
Laine The Librarian
Sep 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
Betta Nolan wants to move.

Everyone advises her to think otherwise. "It's not time yet." "Let yourself get healed first, before you make any big decisions."

Betta Nolan always did things her way and if not her husbands way. But her husband is dead. Passed away only a few months ago from Cancer and it still feels like it was yesterday when she was waking him up for breakfast. A couple so devoted to each other that they never once looked outside of their little bubble to see what everyone else was d
May 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think if I weren't dealing with the life issues that I'm facing right now, I wouldn't have appreciated this book nearly as much. While facing a very painful divorce, I found this book about a woman in her late 50s mourning the recent death of her husband rather cathartic, in allowing me to experience the grief of feeling and remembering the good things, without bringing up the anger and hurt of other areas. I can relate to so many of the things that she is missing; the closeness of friendship, ...more
The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg is the story of Betta Nolan whose husband has just died and Betta is not sure how to grieve. She decides to follow John's advice so she ups and sells her home in Boston and just starts driving west. She finds a small town outside of Chicago, buys an old home on impulse, and begins to search for pleasure in the acts of everyday life. She reconnects with three college friends, acts as a surrogate mother to the young boy next door, becomes friends with two tw ...more
Linda Lipko
Sep 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Betta Nolan deeply grieves the loss of her beloved husband. Each day is difficult to get through without him. Selling their Boston, MA brownstone, she gets in her car and drives midwest to Illinois. Landing in a near perfect small town, she decides to buy a rather large Victorian like home and try to acclimate to a different lifestyle.

Unlike many or most widows, Betta is very fortunate in that she has a lot of money to spend. Thus, she decides to live a year of pleasures. Reconnecting with her
Marne Wilson
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first novel by Elizabeth Berg, but it won’t be the last. I’d expected it to be very light women’s fiction, but it was actually much deeper than that. I also like that it was an example of the “middle-aged woman moves to the country” genre where she doesn’t end up falling in love with a great guy. Not that I have anything against love stories, but it’s nice to read a novel about a woman discovering herself without romantic distractions.
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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
“There is love in holding and there is love in letting go.” 1093 likes
“Don't let your habits become handcuffs” 93 likes
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