27 Jul 2008

The year of pleasures

I have another of Elizabeth Berg's books. This one is called The Year of Pleasures. Its about a middle aged woman who tries to cope with life after her husband's death. She had no children and no family so in the beginning had to grapple with the loneliness and a kind of fear. She sells her home and leaves all that is familiar to her and courageously buys a house right in the country. Here she catches up with old friends and makes new ones, learning all the while that life is what we make of it. Its not that she suddenly becomes strong, no, I love it because it's so real and so down to earth. The struggles that she goes through are the ones anyone might go through in her place. Reading it I wondered how I would cope when Repin passes on. Or would I be the one to go first, leaving him behind? I don't know but however it is I feel we all need to face that ultimate event. Sometimes I think of a friend whose husband passed away suddenly. She broke down completely and was very depressed and needy for a long time. It took her almost two years to just be able to cope. At first she couldn't even talk about her husband without crying and breaking down. I hope that I never become like that, but deep inside I know I'm stronger and hopefully will not go through that kind of suffering. Not just for my sake, but also for my children's sake. I know that in our religion we are not allowed to love a person that much but I guess its impossible not to, especially in her position where she depended totally on her husband for everything.

In this story Elizabeth Berg delves into a woman's psyche and takes us right into her character's life, the neighbours, the friends who help her, even the children in the neighbourhood. She befriends a young man, a twenty year old who helps her with the chores in her house, her relationship with her former best friend Lorraine, and another single woman, Carol, her neighbour, the one with the young son. Her memeories of her husband play an important part in the novel and even though he is not a main characterin the story, we get a picture of him from Bette - a gentleman, wise, patient and very loving. Her account of his thoughtful deeds are so romantic and yet shows us what a gem of a husband he must have been - the way he leaves her little notes to jog her memory of things they did together. This is a book to be read slowly, not to be rushed through. May be a bit slow for some but a treasure for me. A book that makes you think.

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