Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Once Upon a Time There Was You, by Elizabeth Berg

In the prologue to Once Upon a Time There Was You, Elizabeth Berg lets us know that both John and Irene Marsh had serious doubts on their wedding day. So perhaps it is no surprise that, as the book proper starts, they are divorced, with John living in St. Paul, MN, and Irene in Northern California.

The couple's 18-year-old daughter Sadie is returning to California from a week spent with John. with whom she has a close relationship despite not living in the same state with him. She is planning a weekend getaway with her boyfriend Ron, which she is covering up by telling her somewhat smothering mother that she is going rock-climbing. The weekend turns into a disaster, and John must fly to California to help Irene deal with the crisis.

While Berg's intent, according to a piece I read, was to explore whether two people who had gotten divorced could love each other again, I never really felt that there was a snowball's chance that Irene and John would get back together. Whether they would be able to get along well enough to work through the family crisis seemed a more realistic question. I don't want to do the spoiler thing, so I'm not going say more about the plot, but suffice it to say, while this is an easy read, it's not particularly rewarding. Berg's earlier works are much better.

Favorite passage:
You're a Minnesotan. Your people just discovered that lemon juice doesn't have to come from a green bottle. But that doesn't mean everyone's so benighted!

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