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Art of Mending, The by Elizabeth Berg
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Art of Mending, The (edition 2004)

by Elizabeth Berg

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1,3384710,567 (3.51)24
It begins with the sudden revelation of astonishing secrets--secrets that have shaped the personalities and fates of three siblings, and now threaten to tear them apart. In renowned author Elizabeth Berg's moving new novel, unearthed truths force one seemingly ordinary family to reexamine their disparate lives and to ask themselves: Is it too late to mend the hurts of the past?Laura Bartone anticipates her annual family reunion in Minnesota with a mixture of excitement and wariness. Yet this year's gathering will prove to be much more trying than either she or her siblings imagined. As soon as she arrives, Laura realizes that something is not right with her sister. Forever wrapped up in events of long ago, Caroline is the family's restless black sheep. When Caroline confronts Laura and their brother, Steve, with devastating allegations about their mother, the three have a difficult time reconciling their varying experiences in the same house. But a sudden misfortune will lead them all to face the past, their own culpability, and their common need for love and forgiveness.Readers have come to love Elizabeth Berg for the "lucent beauty of her] prose, the verity of her insights, and the tenderness of her regard for her fellow human" (Booklist). In The Art of Mending, her most profound and emotionally satisfying novel to date, she confronts some of the deepest mysteries of life, as she explores how even the largest sins can be forgiven by the smallest gestures, and how grace can come to many through the trials of one.… (more)
Member:BKEPUB
Title:Art of Mending, The
Authors:Elizabeth Berg
Info:Random House
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:Contemporary, Fiction, General, Adult, Romance, Sagas, Psychological Fiction, Psychological, Brothers and Sisters, Mother and Child, Family Reunions, Repression (Psychology), Forgiveness

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The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg

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» See also 24 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
Well done. I couldn't put this down and read it in a day. ( )
  Tosta | Jul 28, 2021 |
At a family reunion, quilt-maker Laura Bartone discovers a horrible family secret from her odd and difficult younger sister Caroline. Although this novel had moments of emotional resonance, there were far too many moments that felt like simply padding, arbitrary and irrelevant to the story. For instance, the details about a dog quilt that Laura is making for a client who is not even named or seen in the novel seemed entirely superfluous, as did the discussion about the hypochondria of a friend's partner who similarly never makes an appearance. Some offhand observations, such as how Laura's fabric collection, like a hardware store, is satisfying in its completeness, "because everything is there," would have been nicer if they had more relevance to the story.

Although some of Laura's relationships were lifelike and realistic, the pastiche of Laura's life never meshed into an organic whole. Laura seems to be on the one hand a good person, a good wife and mother, leading an idyllic life, and on the other a seriously flawed and emotionally inadequate sister. How did she get from point A to point B? This story from sister Caroline's point of view would have made a much more interesting novel.

Most annoying to me were old-fashioned, sexist assumptions about men's and women's natures and gender roles, which turned everyone into a caricature: men who can't talk about their emotions, the really good woman friend who you can share everything with, the ebullient and effusive gay man who runs the fabric store and is going on vacation to—where else?—San Francisco. It's almost as if Elizabeth Berg only had the time or resources to flesh out the relationships central to the plot and everyone else was just a stand-in. Such cheap stereotypes kept me from becoming involved in what was a plot that should have struck very close to home. ( )
  Charon07 | Jul 16, 2021 |
Eh. I mean, it was a compelling story and I finished it very quickly. But a lot of the supporting cast were no more than props to make the MC feel better about herself, the ending lacked any sort of true satisfying emotional conclusion, and I think the decision to have the story told from the perspective of Laura and not Caroline took away from the younger sister's narrative. Laura served as a manageable cipher for readers to see a flawed and toxic family dynamic from the eyes of someone who only realized in retrospect how terrible her sister was being treated... but then the story can't trust Caroline to tell her own story through her own POV.

Having Laura be a quilt maker was such a lazy metaphor for piecing her family together. Her being a quilt maker didn't even serve the plot in the end, just was a distraction during pivotal scenes (spacing out because her spaghetti looks like a cool pattern while her sister is trying to talk about how their mother abused her - really? I'm supposed to like this woman???)

I think the most believable relationship is between Laura and Pete. They argue, they fight, they make up, they do silly stuff and make out in the parking lots of fast food joints. Steve, Laura's brother, popped in and out during the first half of the book but didn't stick around, and as a consequence became very forgettable and not crucial to the story.

I dunno. It's a quick read and it's well written for the most part, but other than that, it's very fluffy with little emotional substance. ( )
  sarahlh | Mar 6, 2021 |
I like the realism -- an ending that could really happen, not written for a sappy movie closing-titles theme. ( )
  SMBrick | Feb 25, 2018 |
I like this book, but at the same time I was hoping for more. With the title of The Art of Mending, I guess I thought I would see more mending of relationship then just the start of or maybe the mending might happen. A lot more couldn't of been done, versus just glazing over of the complex of emotion with in a family when a hidden secret comes out. The one brother just drops out the picture, like the results will not affect him and he had no interest. Even though I enjoy the book, I did want a lot more from the story. I did listen to the audio book, and enjoyed the person reading the story. ( )
  lemonpop | Nov 22, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
There is a field. I'll meet you there.
--Rumi

Anyone's childhood can be an act of disablement if
rehearsed and replayed and squinted at in a certain light.
--Carol Shields, from Unless

The foxes were having their pups . . . if a stranger
appeared near the pens, if anything too startling or
disruptive occurred, they might decide to kill them.
Nobody knew whether they did this out of blind irritation,
or out of roused and terrified maternal feeling.
--Alice Munro, from Lives of Girls and Women
Dedication
For those who find
forgiveness by way
of the truth
and for those
who find the truth
by way of forgiveness
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It is a photograph of a staircase that I took with my Brownie camera over forty years ago.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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It begins with the sudden revelation of astonishing secrets--secrets that have shaped the personalities and fates of three siblings, and now threaten to tear them apart. In renowned author Elizabeth Berg's moving new novel, unearthed truths force one seemingly ordinary family to reexamine their disparate lives and to ask themselves: Is it too late to mend the hurts of the past?Laura Bartone anticipates her annual family reunion in Minnesota with a mixture of excitement and wariness. Yet this year's gathering will prove to be much more trying than either she or her siblings imagined. As soon as she arrives, Laura realizes that something is not right with her sister. Forever wrapped up in events of long ago, Caroline is the family's restless black sheep. When Caroline confronts Laura and their brother, Steve, with devastating allegations about their mother, the three have a difficult time reconciling their varying experiences in the same house. But a sudden misfortune will lead them all to face the past, their own culpability, and their common need for love and forgiveness.Readers have come to love Elizabeth Berg for the "lucent beauty of her] prose, the verity of her insights, and the tenderness of her regard for her fellow human" (Booklist). In The Art of Mending, her most profound and emotionally satisfying novel to date, she confronts some of the deepest mysteries of life, as she explores how even the largest sins can be forgiven by the smallest gestures, and how grace can come to many through the trials of one.

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