Author: Elizabeth Berg
Narrator: Elizabeth Berg
Published: January 1, 2009
Genre: chick lit
Audiobook: 7 discs (approx. 8.5 hours)
My Rating: 2.5 stars
Synopsis (from GoodReads): In this new novel, beloved bestselling author Elizabeth Berg weaves a beautifully written and richly resonant story of a mother and daughter in emotional transit. Helen Ames–recently widowed, coping with loss and grief, unable to do the work that has always sustained her–is beginning to depend far too much on her twenty-seven-year-old daughter, Tessa, and is meddling in her life, offering unsolicited and unwelcome advice. Helen’s problems are compounded by her shocking discovery that her mild-mannered and loyal husband was apparently leading a double life. The Ameses had painstakingly saved for a happy retirement, but that money disappeared in several large withdrawals made by Helen’s husband before he died. In order to support herself and garner a measure of much needed independence, Helen takes an unusual job that ends up offering far more than she had anticipated. And then a phone call from a stranger sets Helen on a surprising path of discovery that causes both mother and daughter to reassess what they thought they knew about each other, themselves, and what really makes a home and a family.
My Thoughts: I'm so torn by Elizabeth Berg's work and this novel is the perfect demonstration of my opinion of her books. The topics that her books cover are so interesting that I feel the need to read them. Then there is a character who is so annoying that it ruins the whole novel for me, and that character tends to be the main one. In this novel, we have Helen, a recent widow who is struggling with being alone after her husband died suddenly. Her daughter no longer lives at home so she has no one living with her, which gives her a lot of time to think. And what I realized very quickly was that Helen is so weak, it's absurd. There were so many times throughout the book that I wanted to slap Helen and say, "You need a dose of reality and fast. Seriously, grow up!" Unfortunately, I couldn't do that, so I had to suffer through her lamentations of how difficult it is to be a weak woman just to see what happens to the other characters in the book.
Helen confuses a quiet woman with a weak woman. She says an ode to "weak" women at point, praising how they rely on others to call people to fix things, rely on others to pay bills and never once question their finances. It annoyed me so much because I wanted to tell her that she is not a real woman whatsoever when she relied on her husband to do everything. Seriously, it annoys me so much when women think that they should let a man do everything concerning money/important decisions/taking care of a home. Just get a grip and figure it out yourself! (I'm sorry if I'm preaching from my soap box here, but it's a huge pet peeve of mine.)
The premise of the novel is unique and it was interesting to read about how Dan surprised Helen with her dream house in California. However, hearing her constant complaining about life did not make it any easier to listen to.