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Topic: Elizabeth Berg, "insightful" or "sappy?"

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Subject: Elizabeth Berg, "insightful" or "sappy?"
Date Posted: 12/31/2008 12:24 PM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2006
Posts: 1,366
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Author Elizabeth Berg is a former registered nurse, waitress and rock band singer.  She is divorced and a mother of two daughters.  Many readers find her writing to be very "sentimental" or just plain "sappy."  Others think of her books as "insightful."  She writes a lot about broken hearts and emotional pain as well as hopes and dreams.  Do you like her books?  Which ones?  Why? or Why not?

Last Edited on: 1/3/09 11:59 PM ET - Total times edited: 4
Date Posted: 12/31/2008 1:57 PM ET
Member Since: 5/8/2007
Posts: 8,523
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I've only read Talk Without Sleep (or something like that??) and The Year of Pleasures.  I was very pleasantly surprised with both.  They both discussed difficult things but did so in a heartwarming way.  I thought they were insightful because they made me think about things and what blessings I have and whatnot.

Last Edited on: 12/31/08 1:58 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/31/2008 3:15 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2006
Posts: 1,467
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I've enjoyed all her books. I consider her to be similar to Anita Shreve.

Date Posted: 12/31/2008 6:14 PM ET
Member Since: 11/24/2005
Posts: 5,638
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Last Edited on: 5/16/09 10:56 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/31/2008 7:13 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,804
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I would say about the same Nellie! 

Date Posted: 12/31/2008 7:24 PM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2006
Posts: 626
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I enjoy her.  In 2007 I read Durable Goods, Joy School, and True to Form (they should be read in that order).  The first two received a 3/5.  The third received a 4/5.   I also read The Art of Mending which received a 5/5.  I have a couple here tbr as well.

I can't remember anything about them however.  :(


Date Posted: 1/3/2009 10:55 PM ET
Member Since: 10/21/2007
Posts: 3,430
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I have only read What We Keep, and I wasn't sure if I'd like it at first.  After finishing a few chapters, I couldn't put it down & stayed up all night to finish it.  It was tender, sad, and sentimental.   I have Open House and now I'm really looking forward to reading it after liking What We Keep so well. 

Date Posted: 1/3/2009 11:30 PM ET
Member Since: 5/23/2005
Posts: 6,061
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Well, funny you should post this today.  I like her writing, enjoy her style, though I haven't read a lot of her books.  My favorites to date had been Range of Motion and Never Change.  As a nurse, I worked 11 years with traumatic brain injured patients, and found her research and detail terrific (while the ending was just so unrealistic).  When I read Never Change, I was working as a visiting nurse, and really enjoyed reading about a visiting nurse.  Great story, messy ending, again.  BUT, just today I popped Talk Before Sleep into my player for my walk, and I don't think I am going to finish it.  I was thinking, I am tired of this sap.  And here you are with these questions...

Date Posted: 1/4/2009 10:20 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,567
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I also liked Range of Motion best of the 6 Elizabeth Berg books I have read.  Unlike Bonnie, I liked the ending.  Books can have sappy, tie-up-the-loose-ends, unrealistic endings for me everytime.  I don't really expect the fiction I read to be more realistic.  I would say, I don't want it to be totally realistic.  I think that is why I react so differently to Jodi Picoult books than others who review them here (ie to date I am the only fan of her book Mercy, my favorite).  My reading friends didn't like the ending of I know this much is true by Wally Lamb for the same reason, the ending was too tie-up-the-loose-ends for all the characters.   Real life is too ongoing and I like my books to end, so that I can go to sleep. 

Date Posted: 1/5/2009 9:22 AM ET
Member Since: 5/8/2007
Posts: 8,523
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I read so much but can never remember things that happen in a book, even when I love them.  I loved I Know This Much is True and thought Mercy was okay, but don't remember either ending.  It must not have bothered me much though!

Date Posted: 1/5/2009 6:17 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,509
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I just finished  and enjoyed her Dream When You're Feeling Blue and have liked both What We Keep and Open House by her as well. She's one of those writers who I don't actively seek out, but enjoy when she comes my way (or is chosen for Book Club which happens now and then too)

Date Posted: 1/5/2009 6:39 PM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2007
Posts: 2,287
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I have read many of her books and have always enjoyed them.  I like how she develops the storyline and the characters.  Her books are what I would call a "comfot read". 

Date Posted: 1/6/2009 7:43 PM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2008
Posts: 118
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Her book Talk Before Sleep is the only book that had me literally sobbing as I was reading it.  That is my favorite of hers.  

However, Open House, comes at a very close second.

Date Posted: 1/9/2009 3:04 PM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2006
Posts: 1,366
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After seeing everyone's comment, I decided to read RANGE OF MOTION.  I absolutely loved it!  This story is about a woman dealing with her husband in a coma, while caring for her two young daughters. She was also providing emotional support to her neighbor who is in a troubled marriage. I thought the main character's faith and devotion to her husband was very touching , almost romantic.  I found myself looking forward to her conversations with the "ghost woman" and her interaction with her neighbor.  Both of the supporting characters came across very "real."  Even though there was a lot of sadness in the book, I found it to be very poignant and ultimately uplifting.

This was not a challenging read, like a Dostoyevsky novel, but it was a very satisfying one.  Berg was almost poetic in her writing about everyday things. A joy to read!  Many wonderful lines...... words I wish I had said.

Last Edited on: 1/9/09 3:21 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/9/2009 5:19 PM ET
Member Since: 5/23/2005
Posts: 6,061
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Beautiful review, Anna.  Your words, too, like poetry. 

Kind of makes me want to reread the book, which I had read more than once.  I think what brought it so close to home for me was working at the time with TBI's at all levels.  Heartbreaking, what it did to the lives of all involved.  Heartbreaking to see how the lives evolved from the acute hospital setting, to us, the so-called, hope-filled rehab for these souls. 

Something funny that really rang true enough so that I brought the book to work and read the section was (and having just read it, I'm sure you'll remember it):

"Gloria!  Your admission is here!"

We were never ever to refer to our patients as inanimates such as "admissions."  And never to yell something like that through the halls of their home.  One of our aides who'd been there the longest was Gloria, and I can still here someone calling out, "Gloria!  Your admission is here!" Frequently.

Those are the tiny details about Berg's writing that sing with truth.  As did the house for she could have perfectly been describing the old house just then purchased by one of our Respiratory Therapists, in the same kind of neighborhood.

Sadly, in my 11 years there, we never had a successful recovery like in the book.  Oh, a couple 'came back' but never even close to the degree of who they had been before the trauma.

Oh, my, I do babble on....


Date Posted: 1/10/2009 9:42 AM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2006
Posts: 1,366
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Bonnie, thanks for the kind words!  I like Berg's writing style. I'm looking forward to reading another one of her books very soon.

Date Posted: 1/10/2009 4:13 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2005
Posts: 1,239
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I listened to some of Open House and didn't really like it. I'm not too sure of it but I just couldn't get into it. I feel that same wa with Anita Shreve...just gotta get in the mood.

Date Posted: 1/11/2009 12:01 PM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2005
Posts: 7,798
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I read Talk Before Sleep and was in bed reading the ending and crying so badly, my dh said something like, "It's just a book!"  But it was so emotional and I loved the writing.  After that, I read What We Keep, and also liked it very much.  I started collecting all of her books, and then was able to go see her speak and she was so down-to-earth and funny!  She autographed books afterwards and I was able to get a book signed and also a picture taken of me, her and my sister.  It was great.  So yeah, I'm a fan!  :) 


PS I also love Jodi Picoult's writing.