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The Art of Mending

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  9,649 Ratings  ·  851 Reviews
It begins with the sudden revelation of astonishing secrets—secrets that have shaped the personalities and fates of three siblings, and now threaten to tear them apart. In renowned author Elizabeth Berg’s moving new novel, unearthed truths force one seemingly ordinary family to reexamine their disparate lives and to ask themselves: Is it too late to mend the hurts of the p ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 28th 2006 by Fawcett (first published 2004)
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Logophile
Sep 11, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
At a family reunion, quilt-maker Laura Bartone discovers a horrible family secret from her odd and difficult younger sister Caroline. Although this novel had moments of emotional resonance, there were far too many moments that felt like simply padding, arbitrary and irrelevant to the story. For instance, the details about a dog quilt that Laura is making for a client who is not even named or seen in the novel seemed entirely superfluous, as did the discussion about the hypochondria of a friend's ...more
Bonnie
Aug 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
The Art of Mending is the second-to-last of the fourteen books I read by Elizabeth Berg. The title is apt; it’s a book about healing. The theme seems to be addressed in so many stories these days, that I can find it tiresome, even as I can empathize with its victims. The story here, though, was well-crafted, and this was a more satisfying read than her next novel, The Year of Pleasures. While reading the latter, I frankly had the feeling that Berg had grown weary of writing, and needed a break. ...more
Pamela
“I think it’s good to take time to fix something rather than throw it away . . . You’ll always notice the fabric scar, of course, but there’s an art to mending: if you’re careful the repair can actually add to the beauty of the thing, because it is testimony to its worth.”

An Elizabeth Berg novel is chocolate for the soul. She is a wonderfully gifted writer with the endearing ability to recognize and express idiosyncrasies, frailties, and strengths of relationships through simple yet profound ana
...more
Lena
Oct 01, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2011
I wanted an easy read, and this was recommended to me by a friend, with the caveat that it was an old-lady novel from Target. I should have taken that more seriously, along with "old-lady novel for women who don't like to think/know how." (No offense, Allison). I believe I got to page 30 before wanting to vomit on myself & the book and then eating my vomit to only re-vomit again. Yep. That good.

My problem with this book, and others in its genre is this: it's recycled, carefully yet poorly c
...more
Alison
Mar 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This little book packed a punch. There's an author interview in the back of the book where Elizabeth Berg talks about how many of her loyal readers didn't like this book, and it's definitely a difficult one to read and lacks a perfect protagonist to adore and cheer for. But I thought the lack of a "hero" or morally perfect character was what made the book work so well. Everyone has their role to play in families, even when--especially when--there's abuse. So many authors try to tackle these issu ...more
Vicki
Apr 09, 2014 rated it did not like it
As God is my witness, I have tried to like Berg's books. Really I have. So many people love them that I start to think something is strange with me. But I just get bored. The plots seem to take a long time to get going, the writing does not grab me, and I give up. I think I just have to accept that her books don't "speak" to me, even though the plot synopses always sound intriguing.
Elisabeth Wallace
Aug 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
There is a special kind of person out there, well suited to be a counselor or therapist, who can, and with great fascination, co-opt other people's pain. Reading this novel, it became clear to me that Elizabeth Berg is one of these people. In both this and "We are all welcome here," she readily admits that she is basing the events and circumstances on the extraordinary suffering of other people. She is a writer who has fallen into an unusual sort of pattern. She absorbs the stories of others and ...more
Laura
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book really resonated with me. It might've been because my mom is a quilter, or because some of the family issues are very familiar, or because I have the same name as the protagonist. But it was also an easy, thoughtful read about healing and forgiveness.
Keziah Frost
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Enthralling. Deep psychological insight into the family dynamics of a narcissistic mother.
Carolyn Agosta
Jul 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Like a quilt, this story has many pieces which have to be fitted together to make a pleasing whole.

I've read most of Elizabeth Berg's novels. A few didn't quite make a whole for me, this one did. Laura, a maker of 'commissioned' quilts, has to deal with some allegations about their mother by her sister, Caroline. These allegations make Laura look back (somewhat unwillingly) at her childhood with a new perspective.

Just as she would look at fabric with an eye toward whether it would fit or not f
...more
Amy
Early on, the characters in this novel captivated me. Laura is a wife, mother, daughter, and a quilter. As she pieces bits of fabrics together to make a quilt, she takes the bits and pieces of her life and her family's personalities to help create a new whole. The book is interspersed (I'm pretty sure I spelled that wrong- live with it) with descriptions of a family photograph album- snapshots in time, that together with what Laura discovers, create a new whole for her family.

There were bits of
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Elizabeth Berg is always good for a quick, easy read with some thoughtful observations about ordinary life and relationships.
This is not one of her best, but I still enjoyed it. Her other books have more joy and caring in among the sorrow and emotional exploration. This one was a little more angry. The only truly beautiful, caring, forgiving character in the book is Laura's husband Pete.
The book does have value in that it shows how we can grow up in the same household with our siblings and yet
...more
Wendy
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book didn't need to be written. The character doesn't really grow as a person from the start to the finish. It's just another book where there is a great buildup of a serious conflict and then a quick, patched-together resolution that isn't satisfying. The title and connection to quilting is lame, and the description of her quilting studio is belabored and overly wrought. Very weak connection between the title of the book and the career of the protagonist. Not necessary, and probably done t ...more
Sarah
Oct 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
maybe if i'd been in more of an oprah's book club mood, i would've appreciated this book's lugubrious sentimentality. as it stands, however, i just found it overbearing and annoying. so there's some deep dark family secrets between 3 adult siblings that get slowly....painfully...(just get to the point already!) revealed. but then not much else happens. i should've been clued in when each chapter started with an italicized description of a family photo.
i might give some of her other ones a true (
...more
Liza Perrat
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved this story ... review to come.
Judy
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this novel for its clear and lovely writing, and for its exploration of trying to get to the truth buried through the decades in a family's unhappiness. The main question in The Art of Mending is this: was Caroline, the middle sibling, really the object of abuse by her mother, as she claims to her siblings when all are middle-aged? Or is she really just a tiresome drama queen, as her mother claims and as her sister, Laura, and brother, Steve, tend to believe?

Laura also wonders what li
...more
Carly
Apr 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
As adults we often question our childhood memories, no matter how clear they are in our minds, they will never be the same as an adult memory…can they be trusted? Abuse is quite easily misconstrued in the eyes of a child. Often abused children seek approval and play into the abuse because any attention is better than none at all. As a child you don’t understand what actions signify love and which hate. In this book 2 siblings are faced with a scary confession by their “odd” sister of abuse at th ...more
Craftnut -
Sep 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg is about a quilter who discovers a family secret. As siblings gather for an annual reunion, the middle child reveals that she was the victim of physical and emotional abuse by her mother, but the siblings have a difficult time believing the revelation, as it is years after the events. The siblings are in their 40s and 50s, and this comes out of the blue. What memories are real and what are imagined slights by a drama-queen personality? Interspersed between th ...more
Linda Robinson
When beginning a task, I finish the segment that I like least first. Then it's done and I can move on to the stuff I really like. There isn't a chance to move on to the stuff I really like in this book. I felt nervous reading it "I hope this doesn't happen," and then it did, just as expected. There isn't anyone to empathize with here; the main character isn't dimensional, she reads as flat as her quilts. Perhaps she has emotional troubles as well as the characters with featured problems; difficu ...more
Deanna
Apr 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5

I have enjoyed many of Elizabeth Bergs books. This is one of the best in my opinion.

This story shows us how families can be very complicated. Especially when living with secrets that can tear them apart. Sometimes sharing these secrets can help families grow, heal and become closer than ever before. This family that lived with secrets that could have torn them apart but once shared just might save them.

It is an amazing read. The difficult subject manner is handled extremely well.

Highly reco
...more
Emma
Oct 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
This is a boo-hoo book. I picked this one to listen to on CD because I really enjoyed her other book, We Are All Wecome Here. This one was not nearly as good. It's about a family who has all these emotional problems because one sibling was treated poorly by her mother and it just goes on and on about their little problems and how the sister is sad becuase she thinks her mother doesn't love her and it's just boring after a while. The writing is OK, but I just didn't care about the characters, the ...more
Christie
Possible Mild Spoilers!

I wish I had the talent this author has. She has taken a very heavy, difficult subject (child abuse) and made it not only hard to stop reading but at times so funny that you just have to find someone to read it aloud to. The narrator's childhood memories are often hysterical! I kept feeling almost as if I'd lived them myself. The characters are very real, sometimes painfully so, and the ending surprised me by how realistic it was. It was nice to find a book that conveyed t
...more
Dallaslain
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a re-read and looks like it will start an Elizabeth Berg phase. I love her stories - they feel like talking with a friend who knows you so well she tells you something about yourself. This story of a mother who is sideways with one of her daughters and how the other daughter begins to face the uncomfortable and stop working around obstacles, stop making invisible what you are tired of seeing or don't understand.

Berg is probably too sentimental for some tastes, but I think sentiment lead
...more
Norma Monson
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book made me think about family relationships in a new way. We all experience something different and things aren’t always as they seem. We can hurt each other without knowing or understanding and mending takes time...
Me
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting work of fiction centered on family secrets and the healing process. Three adult siblings face that although growing up in the same house, they experienced their mother very differently. One sister reveals that she was abused several times throughout her childhood but the parents kept it hidden from the other two siblings. The ending is touching and *could be* realistic.
Jack Andrews
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Connie
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read several of Elizabeth Burg's books and all have been beautifully written, are emotional, touching and thought provoking. Wonderful.
Mary
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes contemporary fiction
Recommended to Mary by: Library Book Sale
Laura Bartone always anticipates her annual family reunion with the usual amount of excitement and wariness. Traveling all the way to Minnesota to see her family each year is certainly wonderful, yet Laura also can't deny that in a small portion of her heart, she secretly dreads going to the family reunion each year. Laura loves her family deeply - yet somehow, whenever she is around her sister Caroline and her brother Steve - Laura can feel the mutual tension building between them, as well as t ...more
Snickerdoodle
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-author
No one in this story is perfect because there are no perfect people. As children we tend to think of our parents as perfect, all knowing and all powerful. We assume that what angers them is our fault, that if only we were better, everything else would be fine. As we grow, we learn that our parents are not perfect. We may become disappointed, disillusioned, angry, rebellious – resentful of behavior that you feel screwed up your life. Hopefully we keep growing and become wise enough to heal oursel ...more
Margaret
Aug 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Laura returns to her childhood home for the family's annual trip to the state fair. Instead of funnel cake and corn dogs, Laura gets a bitter taste of truth about her family's history. Her younger sister Caroline reveals a secret from her youth that threatens to tear the family apart.

Laura and her brother Steve have long suffered their sister Caroline, the dark figure in the family. Caroline's sour moods and flair for drama have fostered an ambivalence and neglect within her siblings. Laura shru
...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: The Art of Mending 1 4 Mar 25, 2013 11:02AM  
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2,222 followers
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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“There are random moments - tossing a salad, coming up the driveway to the house, ironing the seams flat on a quilt square, standing at the kitchen window and looking out at the delphiniums, hearing a burst of laughter from one of my children's rooms - when I feel a wavelike rush of joy. This is my true religion: arbitrary moments of of nearly painful happiness for a life I feel privileged to lead.” 352 likes
“You are born into your family and your family is born into you. No returns. No exchanges.” 139 likes
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