I m not sure why I picked this book up from the library I thought this was going to be about female bonding and the nature of close female friends unfortunately, it was a dramatic although probably accurate look at one woman s friend dying of breast cancer Neither women are particularly endearing, however there s nothing inspiring about their plight pre cancer, and Berg s writing doesn t help either I d be better off reading Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants again.
Elizabeth Berg is an expert at writing dialogue between women, and expressing how women draw strength and understanding from their close female friends In Talk Before Sleep Ann Stanley is helping to care for her best friend, Ruth Thomas, in her losing fight with metastatic breast cancer She is joined by three other friends of Ruth who each offer support in their own way.
Ann is a former nurse, a quiet woman who is devoted to her family Ruth, an artist, is unconventional and spontaneous When Ruth is facing death in her early forties, Ann is dreading losing her best friend Ann also realizes she will be losing that vibrant spark in her life, the person who helps Ann enjoy life fully and exposes her to new experiences Ruth also had her own emotional journey to travel with the support of her beloved friends.
The story is told with a lot of humor, especially in the flashbacks to happier days It also shows the joys and sorrows in the women s roles as wives and mothers The men in the book are not well developed characters, but are presented as stereotypical types But that is not too important since the spotlight is on the connection that female friendships provide.
This is a novel about two middle aged women, Ruth and Ann, best friends, one of whom is dying of cancer, the other of whom is taking care of her The scenes concerning Ruth s illness are interspersed with flashback style scenes depicting Ruth and Ann s friendship in the years before she became sick The scenes regarding Ruth s cancer and Ann s caretaking were sometimes beautiful and wise The flashback scenes were typical women s fiction stuff where they complained endlessly about their husbands and how trapped they felt in their marriages, while giving no indication that they d ever attempted to have honest conversations with their husbands as if they were actual human beings I m allergic to that, in real life and in books Then I started thinking about the arc of women s fiction, how characters start off in chick lit longing to be married with every fiber of their being, and then graduate to women s fiction, where they behave as if their husbands are inconsiderate houseguests who never leave I find it depressing But, uh, like I said, the cancer stuff was good.
Short and oh so sweet and moving The bonds between friends becomes evident when Ann cares for Ruth, her long time best friend with breast cancer who is in her last days before death consumes her There are many funny conversations but the heart felt conversations are real and poignant Life and marriage and motherhood are touched upon and this is a book to be felt deeply.
This would make a great fictional counterpart to Gail Caldwell s Let s Take the Long Way Home and Ann Patchett s Truth and Beauty, books that celebrate the strength of female friendship Ruth, a divorcee with a college age son, is dying of metastatic breast cancer and Ann and their group of friends have become like her substitute family, trading overnight shifts at Ruth s house and bringing her extravagant treats like ice cream and lobster with McDonald s French fries to distract from the pain and lethargy Ann s narration moves between these regular vigils and her past with Ruth, with whom she shared an immediate and easy intimacy after they met at a party Ruth has made mistakes but lived with passion and a scary kind of honesty that Ann cannot help but admire, wondering whether she s let habit and fear trap her in a safe life It s a simple but wrenching story, and it s not surprising that Berg wrote it after losing a close friend to breast cancer, to testify to the emotional truth of all that happened.
This is the kind of novel I normally don t love to read It is probably chick lit and it is definitely meant to be a tear jerker The thing is, I have watched the slow death of someone I love and I think Berg probably has as well She gets some of the most important aspects of that right How is it that we dare to honk at others in traffic, when we know nothing about where they have just come from or what they are on their way to I remember the exact order of the canned soup in the cupboard, and then I think, well, it s probably been changed now, and that terrifies me I want to go home I just want to go home Can t you understand that I could understand it perfectly I have so often wanted to go home, which is just wanting to go back in time, just wanting to go back to something that sadly no longer exists anywhere Our conversations are silly about nothing, really, less and less consequential But they are comforting to both of us, I know They remind me of what we talk about before we go to sleep, any of us, the lazy, low voiced assurances we offer each otherAlways we re just checking to see that we re safe I ve always thought that was the funniest thing, given the vastness of the dark we lie down in I never actually thought I knew these women I didn t relate completely to the lives they lead Still, there is a deeper truth about them, about all of us, that Berg taps I thought of my mother s long struggle I thought of my sister breathing out of this world so softly and leaving me desperate to have one conversation, one laugh Berg made me cry, and I learned early on that one of the great meanings of literature is catharsis.
A beautifully told story about two best friends, Ann and Ruth, and what happens after Ruth is diagnosed with terminal breast cancer Not only is Ann by her side, but also Ruth s small but eclectic group of her other friends gather by her side also, and each person helps Ruth in her own unique way.
I was drawn to this story because I also have terminal breast cancer, and I was glad to see the author tackle this subject she also lost a good friend to breast cancer and tell the truth about it that breast cancer is not always a curable kind of cancer, a message that is often lost, especially during the month of Pinktober in the lands pink ribbons and all the crap that goes with it breast cancer is not cute, and it not pretty the American Cancer Society estimates that 40,290 women will die of breast cancer this year I may well be part of that statistic myself as my oncologist recommended just 2 weeks ago that I should be thinking about starting hospice care.
My only complaint about this novel was that I felt it was too short, and because of that, not all of the characters felt fully developed to me.
I gave it to my mother to read as well as a few friends It became a favorite and remains one still.
I was about 21 when it first came out I was interested in the friendships of the women in the story and now that I am older I feel I relate even to the issues surrounding them Elizabeth Berg knows how to write about women This is a novel about true friendship, love, and loss The feelings of love the friends have for each other will strike the hearts of those readers lucky enough to have friends like these women.
An excellent book that will stir up all your emotions Beautifully written story.
Until That Moment, I Hadn T Realized How Much I D Been Needing To Meet Someone I Might Be Able To Say Everything To They Met At A Party It Was Hate At First Sight Ruth Was Far Too Beautiful, Too Flamboyant Not At All Ann S Kind Of Person Until A Chance Encounter In The Bathroom Led To An Alliance Of Souls Soon They Were Sharing Hankies During The Late Showing Of Sophie S Choice, Wolfing Down Sundaes Sodden With Whipped Cream, Telling Truths Of Marriage, Mortality, And Love, Secure In A Kind Of Intimacy No Man Could Ever Know Only Best Friends Understand Devil S Food Cake For Breakfast When Nothing Else Will Do After Years Of Shared Secrets, Guilty Pleasures, Family Life And Divorce, They Face A Crisis That Redefines The Meaning Of Friendship And Unconditional Love