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The Art of Mending


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About the Author

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 winner of the 1997 New England Booksellers Award for her body of work, Berg is also the author of a nonfiction work, Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True. She lives in Chicago. To schedule a speaking engagement, please contact American Program Bureau at


Berg (Open House; Say When) has stitched together another airy woman's novel, this one telling the story of a family of pretenses. Now hovering around 50, the grown children include emotionally distant Steve, psychologically brittle Caroline, and their controlling older sister, Laura, a homemaker and successful quilt artist. At a family gathering, Caroline reveals to her siblings that as a child she was physically abused by their mother, a cold and remote beauty who was doted upon by their kind, if colorless, father. Steve and Laura have no recollection of any abuse, only of Caroline as a depressed and whiny kid; their father-a potential witness-dies suddenly. Trying to determine the identity of the reliable narrator creates the only tension in this tale of unidimensional characters. The story is told from Laura's point of view, but she is so full of herself that the reader doesn't trust her perceptions. Worse, just when one thinks she will offer a revelation, she pulls back and mulls over a distant memory or a conversation she's overheard. Finally, Berg lets Caroline (who has, until this point, been just a cipher) emerge from her bitterness and tie the story with a bow. For light reading collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/04.]-Reba Leiding, James Madison Univ. Libs., Harrisonburg, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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. Agent, Lisa Bankoff. 8-city author tour. (Apr. 13) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"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 Chopin's etudes 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

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