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The Art of Mendingby Elizabeth Berg
Synopses & 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 past?
Laura Bartone anticipates her annual family reunion in Minnesota with a mixture of excitement and wariness. Yet this year's gathering will prove to be much more trying than either she or her siblings imagined. As soon as she arrives, Laura realizes that something is not right with her sister. Forever wrapped up in events of long ago, Caroline is the family's restless black sheep. When Caroline confronts Laura and their brother, Steve, with devastating allegations about their mother, the three have a difficult time reconciling their varying experiences in the same house. But a sudden misfortune will lead them all to face the past, their own culpability, and their common need for love and forgiveness.
Readers have come to love Elizabeth Berg for the "lucent beauty of [her] prose, the verity of her insights, and the tenderness of her regard for her fellow human" (Booklist). In The Art of Mending, her most profound and emotionally satisfying novel to date, she confronts some of the deepest mysteries of life, as she explores how even the largest sins can be forgiven by the smallest gestures, and how grace can come to many through the trials of one.
"Bestselling novelist Berg (Talk Before Sleep; Open House) explores memory, love and forgiveness in her flawed but moving 12th novel. At her annual family reunion, Laura Bartone, a 50-something 'quilt artist,' is forced to confront the secrets that have long haunted her family. Her emotionally unstable sister, Caroline, tells Laura and their brother, Steve, that their mother abused her as a child. As Laura and Steve — whose own childhoods were reasonably happy — struggle to make sense of Caroline's accusations and wonder how they could've been oblivious to or complicit in what happened, their father dies. This could be the stuff of melodrama, but Berg generally manages to avoid it. Her prose is often luminous and buoyant, and her insights can be penetrating. Her big ideas, though, are too frequently interrupted by the sort of domestic-detail overdoses that belong in less ambitious novels ('I hung up, flipped the turkey burgers for the last time, dumped the oven-baked French fries into a basket and salted them, sliced tomatoes, drained the water off the ears of corn...'). Other shortcomings include a few gender stereotypes and a husband and children for Laura who seem too good to be true ('Sometimes it seemed like I was making it up,' Laura thinks). But Laura's thornier relationships with her mother and siblings are carefully rendered and compelling. Berg has written a nuanced account of a family's implosion, with enough ambiguity and drama to give book clubs — the book's likely audience — plenty to discuss and to keep any reader intrigued, right up to the fittingly redemptive ending." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"As usual in her characteristic fast-paced prose, Berg explores a timely subject....A less-well-developed plot than usual, but, as always, readable." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a flawed family....This is a skillful popular treatment of a troubling family issue." Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
"Maybe Freud didn't know the answer to what women want, but Elizabeth Berg certainly does." USA Today
"Elizabeth Berg writes with humor and a big heart about resilience, loneliness, love, and hope. And the transcendence that redeems." Andre Dubus
"Berg's writing is to literature what Chopins études are to music — measured, delicate, and impossible to walk away from until they are completed." Entertainment Weekly
"Berg knows her characters intimately....She gets under their skin and leaves the reader with an indelible impression of lives challenged and changed." The Seattle Times
"Elizabeth Berg is one of those rare souls who can play with truths as if swinging across the void from one trapeze to another." Joan Gould
In renowned author Elizabeth Berg's moving novel, now in paperback, 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 past?
About the Author
Elizabeth Berg is the author of twelve previous novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Say When, True to Form, Never Change, and Open House (an Oprah 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 winner of the 1997 New England Booksellers Award for her body of work, Berg is also the author of a nonfiction book, Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True. She lives in Chicago.
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