This is the kind of novel I normally don't love to read.
It is probably chick lit and it is definitely meant to be a tear-jerker. The thing is, I have watched the slow death of someone I love and I think Berg probably has as well. She gets some of the most important aspects of that right. I want to go home. I just want to go home. Can't you understand that? I have so often wanted to go home, which is just wanting to go back in time, just wanting to go back to something that sadly no longer exists anywhere. But they are comforting to both of us, I know. They remind me of what we talk about before we go to sleep, any of us, the lazy, low-voiced assurances we offer each other Always we're just checking to see that we're safe.
I've always thought that was the funniest thing, given the vastness of the dark we lie down in. I didn't relate completely to the lives they lead. Still, there is a deeper truth about them, about all of us, that Berg taps. I thought of my mother's long struggle. I thought of my sister breathing out of this world so softly and leaving me desperate to have one more conversation, one more laugh.
Berg made me cry, and I learned early on that one of the great meanings of literature is catharsis. Sep 05, Shari Larsen rated it really liked it Shelves: ereader , challenge-books. A beautifully told story about two best friends, Ann and Ruth, and what happens after Ruth is diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. Not only is Ann by her side, but also Ruth's small but eclectic group of her other friends gather by her side also, and each person helps Ruth in her own unique way. I was drawn to this story because I also have terminal breast cancer, and I was glad to see the author tackle this subject she also lost a good friend to breast cancer and tell the truth about it; tha A beautifully told story about two best friends, Ann and Ruth, and what happens after Ruth is diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.
I was drawn to this story because I also have terminal breast cancer, and I was glad to see the author tackle this subject she also lost a good friend to breast cancer and tell the truth about it; that breast cancer is not always a "curable" kind of cancer, a message that is often lost, especially during the month of "Pinktober" in the lands "pink ribbons" and all the crap that goes with it.
I may well be part of that statistic myself as my oncologist recommended just 2 weeks ago that I should be thinking about starting hospice care. My only complaint about this novel was that I felt it was too short, and because of that, not all of the characters felt fully developed to me. View all 4 comments. This was the second Elizabeth Berg book I have read. A co-worker was moved by this book and recommended it. I just don't seem to connect with this particular author. Especially with this topic, I didn't feel as much as I think I should. Shelves: contemporary , popular-fiction , novels , chick-lit , fiction , ultimate-reading-list.
I wish I could have liked this at all given the subject and inspiration for the novel. It's a story told by Ann in first person about her best friend Ruth who is dying of cancer. The story is mostly told in present tense, but there are frequent flashbacks telling us about their friendship in the past tense.
I don't have complaints about the style. It's fine, even if not something that invokes writer's envy. My problem is that the story and characters left me cold. A note from the author says the I wish I could have liked this at all given the subject and inspiration for the novel. A note from the author says the book was inspired by the need to express the "emotional truth" about her loss of a "very important friend" to breast cancer.
Maybe those who've survived cancer or lost someone they loved to that disease will resonate more with this story. The thing is, I think part of the problem is that it was too centered on her illness and coming death. I recently read Alice Hoffman's The Probable Future and a central character there is dying of cancer. I found her situation much more poignant and moving I think partly because it dealt more with her living her life while dying.
Despite Berg's claim that this was grounded in her personal experience, I also found it hard to credit someone within weeks of dying of the disease would be able to pig out on lobster and fries. Besides which, I find it hard to be moved by a story of a dying friend and her immortal friendship if I utterly despise the character.
And the truth is I hated Ruth with the heat of a thousand suns without once getting the feeling we were meant to. Something in her personality I can't point to rubbed me the wrong way from the beginning, but I soon got plenty of reasons I can articulate to loathe her more and more with every page. She claims her husband is "manipulative" and cold but says she doesn't divorce him for the sake of their nine-year-old son. That doesn't stop her though from casual serial infidelity--she's sure she won't get caught. Worse, she encourages her friend, who also has a young child, to do the same.
But worst of all? She asks her friend to lie for her to her husband. That's when I lost all potential sympathy. That's not the act of a friend, but a user. Probably not the right book for me at this time of my life. My oldest sister is dying from colon cancer and my dad was diagnosed this year with the same sickness, colon cancer but hopefully we were on time. With all that going on I have obviously been thinking a lot about death over the last past months.
I want to act on every impulse" "I want more, I want someone to know I was here" This is exactly the same thing I am struggling with, that when I die I will be forgotten,nobody knows I was here. As I mentioned above I am thinking a lot about death, my loved ones but also my own and I was a bit scared this book would make me more anxious but in a weird way it helped. Plus the fact that this is also about women and their relationships with other women which is a subject I always love to read about, this book probably was right for me.
I want to read more by this author. Lots of little jewels. View all 6 comments. Mar 19, Whitney rated it really liked it Recommends it for: women who know what it's like to have a true friend in another woman. Shelves: meaningfultearjerkers. Quick read, but very deep very best. The fun one gets a terminal illness, the safe one narrates. And that's where the "run-of-the-mill" feel ends. The does a beautiful job of telling a story without overdoing it, and painting a picture of what it's like to love someone who's dying without doing the experience the injustice of making everything neat and predictible.
Having Quick read, but very deep very best. Having worked in hospice for the better part of a year, this novel does a brilliant job of presenting an experience to the reader that is hopefully not familiar to most of us, but is very real. Feb 01, Linda rated it did not like it. This book is about a friendship between two very different women. No spoiler here: from the beginning of the book, you learn that Ruth is dying of late stage breast cancer, and is being cared for at her home by numerous friends, the closest of whom is Ann.
Despite the sad situation of Ruth's dying, I found her to be a very unlikeable, selfish and shallow person, and had a h This book is about a friendship between two very different women.
Despite the sad situation of Ruth's dying, I found her to be a very unlikeable, selfish and shallow person, and had a hard time believing the intensity of her and Ann's relationship. This clearly influenced my reading, and thus, the low rating. Most of us read to be enlightened or moved. This book did both. On one level, it's a story about girlfriends, and how women need each other.
On another, and this is the main theme I think, it's about treasuring what you have and treating yourself well in your own life. There's a scene in here about Ann preparing a fussy, precisely made breakfast for Ruth, who is sick. Ruth aggravates Ann by sending her back to the kitchen to improve the meal.
Ann thinks, What a bitch! But complies. And then when Most of us read to be enlightened or moved. And then when the perfect meal is brought back to the bedroom, Ruth admits she's too sick to eat, and insists Ann eat it. Ann does, and you see that she needs to do this for herself every now and then: a perfect breakfast, with white linen and a rose alongside.
We all should. Here are a couple of excerpts that I found meaningful: About women in general: "The truth is, we usually only show our unhappiness to another woman. I suppose this is one of our problems. And yet it is also one of our strengths. Ann says, "I want more. I want someone to know I was here.
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You have to let yourself know you're here. In this she gives us a model, and Elizabeth Berg, the author, gives us a gift. View 2 comments. Apr 21, Katie rated it really liked it. In this heartbreaking novel about love and letting go, Ann chronicles the powerful story of her best friend Ruth's struggle with breast cancer: from diagnosis, to denial, to fear, and finally to acceptance, as well as sharing her own experience in coping with the tragic truth and nurturing her friend as best as she can.
The author superbly captures the female experience, both in the dialogue and actions of the characters. All of her characters are realistic and so easy to relate to, and she real In this heartbreaking novel about love and letting go, Ann chronicles the powerful story of her best friend Ruth's struggle with breast cancer: from diagnosis, to denial, to fear, and finally to acceptance, as well as sharing her own experience in coping with the tragic truth and nurturing her friend as best as she can.
All of her characters are realistic and so easy to relate to, and she really understands the special connection and intimacy that women feel for one another. Sarah, is the realistic friend who takes care of the "business," such as helping Ruth pick out a cemetary plot. LD is the tough, positive friend who refuses to allow Ruth to give up hope, and finally, Helen is Ruth's childhood friend, who knows Ruth like she knows herself.
While the decline of Ruth's health is central to the story, this is not merely a testament of survival and death. The heart of the novel is a celebration of the wonderful friendships that women share. I would recommend this to all women who appreciate the value of female friendship, and especially those who are dealing with or have dealt with cancer or terminal illness. May 05, Ginger rated it liked it. I won't rest until I've read every word Elizabeth Berg has written, but though her writing was, of course, beautiful, I didn't like these characters.
If the main character hadn't been sick no spoiler alert, you learn this on page six, or the back cover, if you read those , I wouldn't have felt any sympathy for her character. She was selfish and unlikeable. Still EB brings even a mediocre book about illness up with her prose and themes. If you want to read a beautiful book about women and friendshi I won't rest until I've read every word Elizabeth Berg has written, but though her writing was, of course, beautiful, I didn't like these characters.
Feb 03, Michelegg rated it it was amazing. What an incredible book. I bawled my eyes out. Berg just made the emotion of losing a dear friend to breast cancer so real. This was a book of incredible friendship and love. It reminded me how important it is to be happy in the moment, to find joy in the people in your life. I loved the quirky characters, they were all so real by the end of the book. This was just an amazingly beautiful book. Everytime I feel a breeze, I'll be reminded of this book and of the eternity of friendships and our What an incredible book.
Everytime I feel a breeze, I'll be reminded of this book and of the eternity of friendships and our ties to those who've already gone on ahead of us. Jun 28, Kim Whitley-Gaynor rated it it was amazing.
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This is one of my favorite books of all time. It's a little gem. I gave a copy to my aunt after her sister died of cancer. She loved it. I highly recommend it. Shelves: fiction , escapist-fiction. I don't know what it is about Berg, but she just seems to GET people. I think I'm going to have to search out more of her books for the characterization alone.
I don't necessarily love the characters--or even like them--but they are so multi-dimensional and react like real people that I can't help but get sucked in. This particular book is about women's friendships. Phew--complicated, right?
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Now add in that Ruth is dying from breast cancer and it gets even more complicated. I could chat and chat about this book. I have lots of acquaintances, and several friends. And priceless. Have you ever stopped to think of who you would want to be with you in the final weeks of your life as you know you're dying?
Have you ever thought of who you would be willing to put the rest of your life on pause for so you could spend those final weeks of their life with them? Talk Before Sleep is interesting to examine the dynamics of women's friendships. What connects different women? Isn't it interesting how in one relationship a woman is the leader while in a different relationship she is the follower?
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And what should we think about how close women friendships can affect a woman's marriage and immediate family? I even think of Debi Pearl's cautions regarding female friendships. I also found it poignant that Ruth came to regret leaving her husband. It makes me think of a saying I recently saw along the lines of "Instead of thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, water your own grass.
Funny, huh? I wish women who are ready to leave their husbands, families, etc. Finally, I want to see Sophie's Choice, which is a movie the two main characters watched that made them cry. I know, I'm weird like that Or maybe read the book. I know nothing about either one. And I appreciated these quotes: "She was capable of a scary kind of honesty I was ready for, although until that moment, I hadn't realized how much I'd been needing to meet someone I might be able to say everything to" I mean that there's someone for every occasion" Thanks for the recommendation I think , Misti.
Mar 15, Debbie rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Friends, anyone,. I have read this book about 10 times. I recommend it to my friends and have been known to buy this for friends. I have given this to friends and never gotten back and then bought it again because I have to have it in my "library". It's a book about friends, three friends, who are drawn closer because of one friends illness, cancer.
It's about the progress of her disease and what it does to her friends and their friendship. I love this author. She was in KC once and I went and listened to her as sh I have read this book about 10 times. She was in KC once and I went and listened to her as she read part of a book that was coming out. I haven't read all of her books, but have read about 6 or 7. They are thoughtful and can make you cry.
This is a book about cancer so remember that fact. Mar 09, Lynna rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. She also read the book long before her diagnosis. When she got the message she was terminal I told her I would be her "talk before sleep". She knew exactly what that meant and that I would honor her talking about death.
I will never forget this book. Jun 18, Susan rated it did not like it Shelves: did-not-finish. Hard to say which is more depressing: reading this book or seeing a beloved household pet get run over by a car. The Hartford Courant calls this book "A Triumph". A triumph over what? A direct quote from the book: "I haven't yet let myself feel how grateful I am to be back in my own bed, but I know it's coming.
And I know I'd better get ready. Because feeling good will feel awful. For crying out loud! This book is not for you if you are looking for adventure and great plot twists. Berg tells you before the book begins "Not long ago, I lost a very important friend to breast cancer. Intimate and uncensored sharing, the kind of connection women prize, is at the heart of this deeply moving novel about the grit and power of female friends.
Ann and Ruth have always talked as only great friends can - honestly, and about everything: husbands and marriages, sex lives and children, their work, their hopes, their disappointments, and their dreams. For Ann, cautious and conventional, her closeness to the outspoken and eccentric Ruth brings about discovery and liberation, a chance to say whatever she wants, and, most important, under the insistent tutelage of Ruth, to become herself. Over the years, the women have shared recipes, quilting patterns, child care, delicate and dangerous secrets.
Each rests secure in the knowledge that they will be friends forever. Then Ruth is diagnosed with cancer, and everything changes; the women begin to share something more profound than either of them might have predicted. Elizabeth Berg is one of those rare souls who can play with truths as if swinging across the void from one trapeze to another.
The talk is about what matters, and it tells the truth about what women know and can do. She lives in Chicago.