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Until the Real Thing Comes Along by…

Until the Real Thing Comes Along

by Elizabeth Berg

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From the book jacket: What do you do when your life isn’t living up to your dreams? When the man you love is unavailable, and yet you long for a family, a home? What is the cost of compromising until the real thing comes along?

My reactions
I really wanted to like this. I’ve read a number of Berg’s books and liked them all. She has a gift for dialogue and for letting the reader into her character’s lives and motivations. But …

Patty’s constant wishy-washy attitudes, her complete inability to move on with her life just irritate the heck out of me. I didn’t care what happened to her in her sad little life.

I WAS interested in the story with her parents, and wish Berg had explored that storyline rather than Patty’s non-existent fantasy love life.
( )
1 vote BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
Just a quick note. Here it is, probably about 5 years later, and I read the description of this and cannot remember it *at all*. I know I've read a Berg or two, and I know I've read some 5K books since I (guess, as it's pre-GR, so pre-cataloging) read this, but still. Nothing. So, I'm betting that's not a real high recommendation of the value of the time spent reading the darn thing. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
This book fits into the "too close for comfort" shelf so well I had to create one just for it. Now, I may not have a gay best friend that I'm in love with, or do a ridiculously poor job of selling houses, but the baby-craving to absurd levels (as in "maybe you should stop staring at other people's children before someone calls the cops on you" levels)? Hell yeah: I'm right there.

And Berg is one of my favorite authors, and she tackles the subject maybe a little bit too well, because the book made me uncomfortable. I did not want to find out how Patty solved her problems, mostly because I knew it would not be a solution applicable to my problems. Also, Patty's ability to shield herself from things she doesn't want to recognize (they are too long and spoiler-ish to list here, but trust me, as a reader you see them coming from miles away & a few of those plot points were also uncomfortably close to my own experiences dealing with family and friends) was, perhaps, also a little bit too close to the bone for me.

Usually, seeing characters I can relate to is what reading is all about for me, but, as much as I enjoy Berg's writing style and her ability to describe things in concise and apt ways - "I always thought I'd have five or six children, and I have imagined so many lovely domestic scenes featuring me and my offspring. Here we are outside on a hot summer day, running through the sprinkler, The children wear bright fluorescent bathing suits in pink and green and yellow; I wear cutoffs and a T-shirt. There is fruit salad in the refrigerator. Later, I will let the older ones squirt whipped cream for the younger ones; then, if they pester me enough in the right way, I'll let them squirt it into their mouths - and mine." - I almost couldn't finish the book, it was that bad. Melancholy mood to begin with, add a dose of (much too realistic) fiction, and even one of my favorite authors gets a bad rating, unfortunately. ( )
  NTE | Sep 20, 2013 |
Not my favorite Berg book, but the way she writes dialogue saved it for me. The story-line wasn't all that captivating but some of the dialogue was delicious. I particularly liked the bits with Patty's parents and with real estate clients of hers (the Berkenheimers), both couples that have been together for eons, their love love for each other shining through the bickering or nattering of day-to-day life. Had Patty and Ethan been as vivid for me, I would probably enjoyed the book a lot more. Still, it was a easy reading book for a quiet Sunday, and it will do, until the real thing comes along.
  bookczuk | Dec 5, 2011 |
One of my favorite contemporary women's fictions writers. She tackles every day topics like relationships and break-ups with great sensibility and humor.Always new-never boring. ( )
  Hernibs | Nov 7, 2011 |
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For Julie Marin and Jennifer Sarene and in memory of James Allen Gagner
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This is how you play the house game: Go for a drive to somewhere you've never been.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 034543739X, Paperback)

For the protagonist of Elizabeth Berg's Until the Real Thing Comes Along, the biological clock is ticking all too loudly. Alas, there are no likely partners on the horizon for Patty Ann Murphy. Even an attractive, appropriately sensitive guy ends up giving her the heebie-jeebies: "Now he is turning my face toward him and kissing me and I feel that as soon as he stops I'll start screaming. I don't, of course. I say, 'Would you like some pretzels?'" The only man who doesn't inspire this kind of junk-food diversionary tactic is Patty's high-school sweetheart Ethan Gaines--but he happens to be gay. What's a woman of the '90s to do?

The answer: she persuades Ethan to impregnate her, and they agree to a marriage of true minds (if not bodies.) They won't, of course, actually marry, or even live together. But Patty signs on for a lifetime of child rearing with her sexually indifferent soul mate--and finds herself wading into a wealth of emotional complications. Will Ethan ever make love to her again? Will her parents accept her (essentially) single-mommy status? Berg manages to cast these thorny issues in a comedic light, without ever consigning Patty and her wisecracking cohorts to a complete farce. And there is that payoff at the end, when Ethan hands her the love child in the delivery room:

With a tenderness I would not have thought possible in earth-bound humans, he gives her to me. Her wet head is cupped; her quivering chest is calmed. What have my hands been doing all my life before this? I see now that they too have just been born. I unwrap the blanket, stop breathing.
Yes, Patty does eventually start breathing again. And readers will share her delight at the undeniable fact that the real thing has finally come along. --Anita Urquhart

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:20 -0400)

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Desperate for marriage and motherhood but impossibly in love with the wrong man, real estate agent Patty Hansen comes up with an ingenious, if offbeat, solution to accomplishing her goals.

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