Is it too late to make reparation for the past? Laura Bartone looks forward to her annual family reunion with a mixture of excitement and wariness. Every year, she and her siblings return to their parents' home outside Minneapolis to attend the state fair. This year, things are different. As soon as she arrives, Laura realizes that something is ...
Is it too late to make reparation for the past? Laura Bartone looks forward to her annual family reunion with a mixture of excitement and wariness. Every year, she and her siblings return to their parents' home outside Minneapolis to attend the state fair. This year, things are different. As soon as she arrives, Laura realizes that something is not right with her sister Caroline. On their first evening together, Caroline confronts Laura and their brother Steve with devastating allegations about their mother. Taken aback and incredulous, the siblings are unable to reconcile their perception of their childhood. A sudden tragedy forces them to face the past, their own culpability and their need for love and forgiveness.
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This book resonates with real people, real emotioins and the satisfaction to be derived from living one day at a time. I felt at times as though Ms. Berg was looking over my shoulder because my reactions to events in my life had been exactly what Betta Nolan's are in the story. There is no complicated story line; the everyday rythms of life in a small town so deftly drawn are enough to keep the reader turning the pages and regretting the end of the book.
Publishers Weekly, 2004-03-22 Bestselling novelist Berg (Talk Before Sleep; Open House) explores memory, love and forgiveness in her flawed but moving 12th novel. At her annual family reunion, Laura Bartone, a 50-something "quilt artist," is forced to confront the secrets that have long haunted her family. Her emotionally unstable sister, Caroline, tells Laura and their brother, Steve, that their mother abused her as a child. As Laura and Steve-whose own childhoods were reasonably happy-struggle to make sense of Caroline's accusations and wonder how they could've been oblivious to or complicit in what happened, their father dies. This could be the stuff of melodrama, but Berg generally manages to avoid it. Her prose is often luminous and buoyant, and her insights can be penetrating. Her big ideas, though, are too frequently interrupted by the sort of domestic-detail overdoses that belong in less ambitious novels ("I hung up, flipped the turkey burgers for the last time, dumped the oven-baked French fries into a basket and salted them, sliced tomatoes, drained the water off the ears of corn..."). Other shortcomings include a few gender stereotypes and a husband and children for Laura who seem too good to be true ("Sometimes it seemed like I was making it up," Laura thinks). But Laura's thornier relationships with her mother and siblings are carefully rendered and compelling. Berg has written a nuanced account of a family's implosion, with enough ambiguity and drama to give book clubs-the book's likely audience-plenty to discuss and to keep any reader intrigued, right up to the fittingly redemptive ending. Agent, Lisa Bankoff. 8-city author tour. (Apr. 13) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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