Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg

Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg

Pub. date: November 13, 2018 – Random House

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Lucille Howard is getting on in years, but she stays busy. Thanks to the inspiration of her dearly departed friend Arthur Truluv, she has begun to teach baking classes, sharing the secrets to her delicious classic Southern yellow cake, the perfect pinwheel cookies, and other sweet essentials. Her classes have become so popular that she’s hired Iris, a new resident of Mason, Missouri, as an assistant. Iris doesn’t know how to bake but she needs to keep her mind off a big decision she sorely regrets.

When a new family moves in next door and tragedy strikes, Lucille begins to look out for Lincoln, their son. Lincoln’s parents aren’t the only ones in town facing hard choices and uncertain futures. In these difficult times, the residents of Mason come together and find the true power of community—just when they need it the most. (publisher)

My take:  I liked this follow-up as much or maybe even more than The Story of Arthur Truluv. We met Arthur, Maddy and Lucille in that book and the story continues in Night of Miracles. I found the characters in the small Missouri town of Mason charming and recognizable. I grew up in a small midwestern town and know “these people” and wanted to know them all – from octogenarian Lucille to Tiny, the town cabbie to Iris, a new arrival to town (and several more people). They’re all at various stages in life and learning to let go of long-held fears. I loved their courage to move forward despite their current and past challenges. The novel is told in short chapters that felt like vignettes but soon became connected. It was a comforting read that I quite enjoyed and recommend to fans of Elizabeth Berg and novels with a small town setting.


 

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The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg

Title: The Last Time I Saw You

Author: Elizabeth Berg

Genre: Fiction

About: (from the book flap):  From the beloved bestselling author of Home Safe and The Year of Pleasures, comes a wonderful new novel about women and men reconnecting with one another—and themselves—at their fortieth high school reunion.

My thoughts: Imagine getting ready for your 40th and final class reunion.  That’s what the characters in Elizabeth Berg’s latest novel are doing.  Everyone is a little nervous but since it’s the last one they make the effort to attend.  We meet the popular jock, the beautiful cheerleader, the nerds, and a host of others.  It was easy to fill in with my own high school classmate version of each character.  The event finally arrives and it was interesting to watch it unfold.  Berg made me laugh out loud one minute and feel the ache of sadness the next.

Since there are several characters some of them are not as developed as I’m used to finding in Berg’s novels – probably due to the fact that the book is only 244 pages. There are comic moments as well as bittersweet but, as with most Berg novels, the end is hopeful – not wrapped up with a pretty bow – but hopeful nonetheless. I liked that.

Recommend? Yes, for Elizabeth Berg fans and anyone who has contemplated going to a high school class reunion.

Source: Library

Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg

Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg: Book Cover
Random House synopsis: In this new novel, beloved bestselling author Elizabeth Berg weaves a beautifully written and richly resonant story of a mother and daughter in emotional transit. Helen Ames–recently widowed, coping with loss and grief, unable to do the work that has always sustained her–is beginning to depend far too much on her twenty-seven-year-old daughter, Tessa, and is meddling in her life, offering unsolicited and unwelcome advice. Helen’s problems are compounded by her shocking discovery that her mild-mannered and loyal husband was apparently leading a double life. The Ameses had painstakingly saved for a happy retirement, but that money disappeared in several large withdrawals made by Helen’s husband before he died. In order to support herself and garner a measure of much needed independence, Helen takes an unusual job that ends up offering far more than she had anticipated. And then a phone call from a stranger sets Helen on a surprising path of discovery that causes both mother and daughter to reassess what they thought they knew about each other, themselves, and what really makes a home and a family.

Helen isn’t handling life very well after her husband’s death. It’s a good thing she has her best friend, Midge as well as her mother to set her straight from time to time. While Helen is learning to be the person who pays bills, hires repairmen, and generally take care of everything, she’s also managing to interfere in her adult daughter’s life. At one point Helen’s mom says “I think you need to let Tessa grow up. You need to let up on her. I’ve been meaning to say that for a long time. And as long as I’m being honest, I think you need to stand on your own feet a little better than you do. You’re capable of more than you know. Ever since you were a little girl, you’ve had a habit of hanging back and letting others do for you what you should do for yourself.” Helen decides to accept a job teaching a writing class to a group of people at the library. Each person has a story to tell and Helen guides them in writing. I think Berg could write a book just about this group. It was a wonderful part of Home Safe.

Helen has decisions to make, both large and small. She learns to stand on her feet and gathers confidence along the way. I enjoyed seeing the small changes that start to add up in Helen’s life. This is a book about hope and having the courage to move forward when one’s definition of normal changes.

Home Safe would be a good book club selection.