Beloved author Elizabeth Berg tells the story of the recently widowed Helen Ames and of her 27-year-old daughter Tessa. Helen is shocked to discover that her mild-mannered and loyal husband had been leading a double life. The Ames's had saved money for a happy retirement, planned in minute detail, but that money has disappeared in several big withdrawals, spent by Helen's husband before he died. What could he possibly have been doing? And what is Helen to do now? Why does Helen's daughter object to her mother's applying for a job, and why doesn't Tessa meet a nice man and get married?
What Helen's husband did with all their money turns out to be provocative, revelatory, and leads Helen and her daughter to embark on new adventures, and change.
©2009 Elizabeth Berg; (P)2009 Random House
"Berg gracefully renders, in tragic and comic detail, the notions that every life - however blessed - has its share of awful loss, and that even crushed, defeated hearts can be revived." (Publishers Weekly)
"Berg is a tender and enchanting storyteller who wisely celebrates the simple, sustaining elements of life, from comfort food to birdsong to a good laugh." (Booklist)
I love Berg's explorations of separation, change and loss, and the way she crafts the residue of big life seismic shifts into new life.
My only issue with her work is that her novels are not long enough.
My wife had just read this book and raved about it. Well - it has its appeal, but it ultimately left me feeling like I had spent a lot of time with a self-absorbed woman who was not all that interesting. Most of the book is spent inside her head listening to her inner dialog. The good news - it is very well written and tells a thoughtful story of a woman sorting out her life after the unexpected death of her husband.
The narrator is hard to listen to. I found her very whine-y and needy. The main character was so passive aggressive, hovering, needy, and weak that I couldn't stand to hear about her! Maybe that is the point of the book, but I wanted to reach out and shake her.
Not worth the credit.
I found this book barely interesting enough to get to the end of the story. I bought the book based on the intrigue promised by the summary about her husband's "double life." Please. Her husband kept a secret suprise from her, but died before he could give it to her. There was no intrigue, no mystery, no "double life." The main character is an author who gets a hurtful letter from a reader basically calling her insipid. That letter is pretty much how I felt about this book. Contrived and insipid. No depth of character and thus, no depth of story. I just didn't find this woman's life interesting enough to write about.
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