Antof9's Reviews > The Year of Pleasures

The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg
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's review
Dec 02, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2007-read, faves, women, made-me-cry

hmmmm ... waiting for more than a year to write a book review is not a good idea. That said, I still say this was one of my favorite reads of 2007, and as I come across more copies of it, I will definitely grab them.

Here are some of the things I remember (or marked) about this book:
The main character's name is "Betta", but the write-up on the back of the book refers to "Bette". Weird.
I'm sure that part of why I found this book so moving is because of the way Elizabeth Berg deals with grief, and living after the death of a loved one. Even though my father died in 1998, I continue to need to work through the grieving process, and this book was a huge help for that.
I felt a low and distinct kind of relaxation. Time became real. Nature becamse real: the woods, the sky, the lakes, the high bluffs and low valleys, the acres of spent fields, the muddy riverbanks. Live photos flashed before me: Here, a construction worker eating a sandwich, one foot up on the bumper of his truck. Here, a woman in curlers loading groceries into her car. Here, a child glimpsed through a kitchen window, standing on a stool to reach into a cupboard; there, a beauty operator giving an old lady a perm.
I won't quote the passage in the middle of page 20 that affected me so much, but future readers will understand what I mean when I say that ever since my dad died, I want to pick up the phone on a regular basis to ask him how to pronounce a word in French, or what does this mean in German, or what he thinks about something a politician said. If I could just ask one more question ...
This is something I've noticed (and don't like) in my own life: "It was the downside of having such a good relationship; we were so compatible that we were lazy about starting and maintaining outside friendships."
I love Benny.
It's things like this that tell you Elizabeth Berg is a real person. When Carol offers to "lend" her dog, "I was nervous doing this -- when a relationship is so new, everything one says has disproportionate weight and staying power. But it felt good to unburden myself by telling her the whole story, unedited."
"Are you ok?" Benny leaned his head in the car and took a quick look around, like a miniature state trooper. [LOVE that!]
"Yeah. I'm just going somewhere."
"Because it looked like you were crying."
"I felt like it for a second. But I'm all right now. I'm fine."
"Okay." He stood there, making sure.
"What do you do after school, Benny?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. Homework."
"Why don't you come over sometime? We'll make some cookies. Do you like to bake?"
"Well, mostly I only like to eat cookies."
Before I turned the corner, I checked my rearview. Still standing there. For his vigilance and care, his cookies would be made with Vietnamese cinnamon.

I could quote more, but I'd be quoting most of the book. Read it -- it's lovely.

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