Monday, July 15, 2013

"Tapestry of Fortunes," by Elizabeth Berg

I have posted about the writer Elizabeth Berg before. On 2/8/10, I gave her as one of several examples of “middlebrow” writers, not of the very top literary quality, but the writer of solid, well-crafted, satisfying novels. On 12/21/11, I said that I had read and enjoyed many of her novels over the years, wrote about one of her novels, “Range of Motion,” and praised its insights into women characters and their lives, and praised the occasionally lovely writing in that novel. I have just finished “Tapestry of Fortunes” (Random House, 2013), and it is, as I have come to rely on, an enjoyable, satisfying, and entertaining book. It could be labeled, as some of her other work could be labeled, “feel good” writing; there is much about positive thinking, much advice about how best to live. The main character, Cece, is in fact a motivational speaker, but in the way of such books, isn’t always sure how best to live her own life. Cece has recently lost her best friend to cancer, and is considering retiring from writing and lecturing, as well as moving out of her house. She suddenly receives a letter from an old boyfriend, one she has not seen since she was a young woman, saying he is thinking of her. These factors come together in a move to a house shared with other women, a pause in her career, renewed communication with the old boyfriend, and a road trip. I won’t tell you how it all turns out, but you can perhaps imagine. This novel is a bit too self-help oriented, and a bit too predictable, for my tastes, yet I must say it was enjoyable in a not too demanding, “good read” way. I love Berg’s focus on relationships, especially those between women friends. I also appreciate her demonstrating that romance is still possible in late middle age and beyond (Cece’s widowed mother begins a romantic relationship during the course of the story as well). Not exactly a “beach read” (see my post of 7/1/13), but close. One postscript: I see from the book cover's back flap that Berg lives part of the year here in San Francisco, which (irrationally, I know!) increases my favorable view of, and feeling of connection to, her fiction.

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