“You must remember, family is often born of blood, but it doesn’t depend on blood. Nor is it exclusive of friendship. Family members can be your best friends, you know. And best friends, whether or not they are related to you, can be your family.” ― Trenton Lee Stewart, The Mysterious Benedict Society
My recommendation for you today is a radical change from last week. I am recommending Tapestry of Fortunes. I have always loved Elizabeth Berg’s books. I think it is because she is writer who brings the bits and pieces of her own life experiences into her writing. A nurse before she became a writer, her background informs and influences many of her books, perhaps most notably Talk Before Sleep, her poignant novel about a woman dying of breast cancer. You see it here in this latest book as she describes her main character’s work as a Hospice volunteer. Her books are about women facing issues most women can relate to. Her plots are not complicated but her characters are always layered and never boring. It doesn’t hurt that we are the same age, which places us well beyond cute and perky and encourages me in my own efforts to write books women will enjoy reading.
Tapestry of Fortunes addresses issues most women will deal with at some point in their lives: the need to downsize and let go of possessions that no longer make sense, to let go of people we love, try something new, forge new relationships and look back to where we have come from perhaps to return there.
Cecilia Ross, the main character, decides after the death of her best friend to sell her home, downsize her life and move into old Victorian in St. Paul with three strangers. Each of these four women is attempting to understand the personal tapestry she has woven with her life. Each is trying to make sense of where she is now while at the same time to rectify a mistake from the past. Lise wants to figure out where she went wrong as a mother. Joni is searching for a career that will make her happy. Renie desperately desires a “do-over” from a mistake she made in her teens. Cecilia needs to find out if she can rekindle an old love.
This is a happy book. It will make you smile. It is not literary fiction which I rarely read anymore but rather the kind of book it’s okay to get sand in when you fall asleep on the beach. What shines through, is the inherent generosity of women toward one another despite differences in social class or age.
If you missed Talk Before Sleep (1994), I urge you to read it. A funny and at the same time sad book about how the strength of a circle of women guides a friend through the ravages of breast cancer.