Donna's Reviews > The Confession Club

The Confession Club by Elizabeth Berg
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bookshelves: fiction, family, life, women

There's a certain type of story or book that I classify as a "Good Housekeeping" tale. This moniker comes from my childhood, when I would read stories from my mother's magazines such as Redbook and Good Housekeeping. I haven't read either of those magazines in many years, so what I remember from way, WAY back then may not still hold true, but this is my memory: Redbook stories were often edgy, with subjects and endings that didn't conform to a set pattern, and although certainly not what I would call risqué, the themes were definitely adult. I loved them. Good Housekeeping stories, on the other hand, were usually much more predictable. The stories were mostly wholesome, romantic, boy-meets-girl tales, with tied-up-in-a-neat-little-bow endings. Entertaining enough, but a little boring and often sweet enough to set your teeth on edge.

Can you tell where I'm going with this? This was my first Elizabeth Berg novel, and it's going in the "Good Housekeeping" stack. But don't get the wrong idea. I really did like the book. It was well-written, it kept my interest, and I finished it quickly. It was just slightly too sweet and neat for me.

I didn't realize that this was number three in a series until after I had read it. To the author's and the book's credit, it was a good stand-alone story, with no need to know anything about the previous books to make this one readable.

The story is set in the small town of Mason, Missouri. Several women from the town, ranging in ages from their 20’s to their 80’s meet once a month to have dinner and dessert and delight and disarm each other with secrets they want to “confess.” These confessions include predictable situations such as marriage woes and other “normal” indiscretions. A couple of admissions are a tad heavier and sometimes funnier. But the Confession Club isn’t really the focus of the book. The lives of the group members, their loneliness, their family problems and their love stories, or lack thereof, are the main themes.

My favorite part of the novel revolved around a homeless man named John and his background. I found his story to be touching and thought-provoking. Unfortunately, the author didn’t delve deeply enough into John’s particular situation; there were teasers, but nothing substantial. He was a veteran with PTSD, yet this was glossed over so lightly, when it could have been a strong, substantial storyline itself. Ah, but that’s not the Good Housekeeping way. That would have made it hard to tie up everything in a neat package with a sparkly, sugary bow.

I know I’m being extremely critical of a good, decent book. And I certainly don’t want to spread any negative vibes about Good Housekeeping magazine; it was, and still is, I’m sure, a wonderful publication, with much to offer besides my memories of stories from 55 or so years ago!

I think this would be a good beach read, and I greatly appreciate Ms. Berg’s use of the English language. She is a wonderful writer, even if her story was not my style. I doubt that I’ll read any of her other books, but I do recommend this one to those who don’t want to dig too deeply into a story. If I could give this 3.5 stars, I would. It’s certainly better than a 3 star, but I just can’t push it up to a 4.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Reading Progress

July 28, 2019 – Shelved (Hardcover Edition)
July 28, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read (Hardcover Edition)
August 13, 2019 – Started Reading
August 13, 2019 – Shelved
August 14, 2019 – Finished Reading
August 15, 2019 – Shelved as: fiction
August 15, 2019 – Shelved as: family
August 15, 2019 – Shelved as: life
August 15, 2019 – Shelved as: women

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Barbara (new)

Barbara I like your description of a 'Good Housekeeping' story Donna. I know just what you mean. 🙂🌸🍒

message 2: by Christine (new) - added it

Christine I used to read those old magazine stories too, Donna. I loved the first two books in this series and I loved them. I’m not sure this one has anything to do with them though except for being set in the same town.

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