Monday, July 29, 2013

Tapestry of Fortunes, by Elizabeth Berg

Cecilia Ross, a middle-aged motivational speaker, has recently lost her best friend to cancer and decides rather precipitously to change her life. She sells her house and most of her belongings, moves into a house with three women she doesn't know, puts her career on hold, and begins volunteering at a hospice. When she receives a postcard from a long-lost love, she decides to take a road trip to visit him, and her roommates opt to come along. Two of the roommates are also hoping to connect with people from their pasts--physician Lise with her ex-husband and advice columnist Renie with a daughter she placed for adoption 18 years ago. The fourth roommate, Joni, decides to go along when she quits her job as sous chef at an upscale restaurant. Of course, the four have folksy adventures and eventual success with their missions, confirming the cliches that Cece spews in her motivational talks.

The first two Elizabeth Berg novels I ever read--Talk Before Sleep and Range of Motion--were beautifully written and emotionally rewarding explorations of how people deal with illness and death. Lately, her books have disappointed, and Tapestry of Fortunes falls into the disappointing category. The characters are one-dimensional, the plot is utterly ridiculous, and the writing tends toward the platitudinous (making one character a motivational speaker and another an advice columnist almost guarantees the writing will be trite). I may have to give up on Elizabeth Berg.

Favorite passage: None

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