Saturday, December 15, 2007

Laura's Review - The Art of Mending

The Art of Mending
Elizabeth Berg
237 pages

First sentence: It is a photograph of a staircase that I took with my Brownie camera over forty years ago.

Reflections: Laura Bartone, a 50-something married mother of two, returns to her hometown for an annual family gathering with her parents, brother, and sister. When Laura's younger sister Caroline asks for a meeting with Laura and their brother Steve, the reunion begins to take on a different tone from past events. Caroline surfaces emotional events from their childhood, which differ greatly from Laura and Steve's experiences.

The Art of Mending explores family relationships; specifically, how children's views of past events affect their journey to adulthood, and the nature of adult parent-child relationships. Its title is a metaphor for healing, taken from a passage discussing the domestic pleasures of ironing and mending:
...there's an art to mending: If you're careful, the repair can actually add to the beauty of the thing, because it is testimony to its worth (p. 14)

Berg writes lovely descriptive prose. Yet while this book held promise, it did not live up to my expectations. The characters lacked depth, and none were particularly likeable. The plot was formulaic and predictable. Worst of all, this book was manipulative, blatantly tugging at the reader's heartstrings. I can do without that ... ( )

My original review can be found here.


Wendy said...

Well, I rated it a tad higher (just a point) than you did, but my problems with it were similar to yours :) Not one of Berg's best efforts. Have you read other books by her? If not, I would recommend Talk Before Sleep which I loved!

alisonwonderland said...

i have Elizabeth Berg on my "long list" of authors for this challenge. i guess i won't choose The Art of Mending. maybe i'll go with wendy's recommendation of Talk Before Sleep. i received a copy of Durable Goods from my local library as a reading program prize, so i'd thought about reading that one. has anyone read it? if so, what did you think?

Laura said...

Thanks for the alternate recommendation. She's certainly a talented author, and I would not be averse to reading another of her books.