Dream When You're Feeling Blue Paperback – 29 Jan 2008
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About the Author
Elizabeth Berg is the "New York Times" bestselling author of many novels, including "We Are All Welcome Here, The Year of Pleasures, The Art of Mending, Say When, True to Form, Never Change, " and "Open House," which was an Oprah's Book Club selection in 2000. "Durable Goods" and" Joy School" were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year, and "Talk Before Sleep" was short-listed for the ABBY Award in 1996. The winner of the 1997 New England Booksellers Award for her body of work, Berg is also the author of a nonfiction work, "Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True." She lives in Chicago.
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"From the Hardcover edition."
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Top Customer Reviews
We join Kitty and Louise as they say farewell to their sweet-hearts, as the men depart to join the war effort.
Meanwhile life starts to shift gradually back home - food becomes scarcer, meat in particular, ration cards are introduced for clothing, gas and other items in short supply. Metal collections, war bonds.
The daily writing of letters, not only to sweethearts, but to boost the morale of other fighting men too. Gifts of food and warm clothing are sent.
News starts to trickle in of neighbours' losses, along with news and propoganda from the war zones.
Well paid jobs become available for women, in the construction of planes, jeeps and weapons.
The ending is sudden and disappointing - as the men return readjustment is needed. The women have become accustomed to their freedom and independance. But their responses seemed out of character to me and this section is very rushed.
The book is interesting, if a bit slow. It's tastefully done but needed to be a bit more raw, more hard hitting, more realistic about the losses sustained and the frightening news from the front lines.
This is the first Elizabeth Berg book I've read since Open House several years ago and I didn't feel that it was as good, but I shall certainly read this author again.
Recommended but with reservations.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Coming from an Irish family, the accounts of daily life with the Heaney's struck a chord with me.
Perhaps as another reviewer suggested, the author will write a sequel to fill in the gaps from the end of the WW2 period to the conclusion of the book that will provide the detail that we all crave. A book written from the vantage point of each of the other sisters - Louise and Tish - or even the mother, Margaret (who was strong and interesting in the glimpse we got of her)- would be possible without being overly redundant.
Much as I enjoyed the book, I was disappointed in the ending because it cheated us of the same level of detail that the rest of the book provided. It was like buying a candy bar, eating half and finding the second half was cardboard. Yup, we got a dramatic conclusion, but it landed with a thunk.
More story, please.
I appreciate when authors do research for their books, but the trick is to use it wisely, to not overpower the reader by showing off all you know. The whole time I read I was thinking, Yes, we know you did your research. It was period-detail-drenched.
Which would have been forgivable if I had fallen in love with the characters. I kept waiting to. Expecting to. And I never did. When Berg's at her best, you can see inside the souls of her characters. In DREAM WHEN YOU'RE FEELING BLUE, I felt like she gave a shallow portrayal that was only rich in period details.
And it must be said; it had the most wholly unsatisfying and unbelievable ending I've come across in a long, long time.
The book tells the story of the tight-knit family living in Chicago during the later years of World War II. There are three older sisters and two younger brothers--and one bathroom that figures frequently and humorously throughout. The book focuses on the three sisters, all beautiful young women with the whole world at their doorstep. In the beginning, we follow the girls as they send their boyfriends off to war. In the following months, we watch them support the war by regularly attending USO dances, and corresponding with soldiers on the front. Much of the story is told through letters--letters of love, friendship, loneliness, hopelessness, homesickness, and terror. The telling is slow, which helps recreate the period; much time is spent developing the inner lives of the three sisters. It is time well-spent, for we really get to know these women, and care about their emotional well-being, especially Kitty, the independent sister, who wants much more out of life than the other two and is blessed with the sexy good looks of Rita Hayworth, to boot.
In this book, Berg was able to create a remarkable sense of place and time. I truly felt transported. The more I got into this book, the more I yearned to buy it for those few older friends of mine who actually lived through this period. I have heard so many personal stories about this period, but with this one book, I felt like I was living it myself.
The problem comes at the end, where there are two very brief shifts in time--one right after the other like the shocking double sonic booms following a Space Shuttle landing! First, there is brief scene set one year later.Then the book closes with a scene that takes place 60 years later. I have no problem with what takes place a year after the close of the war. That scene, however unexpected, is nonetheless consistent with the all character development that came before. What I object to so much is the scenes set in 2006. Perhaps I can believe Hank's part, but not Kitty's. This is not the Kitty that Berg takes such great care in developing over the course of the novel.
Berg, how could you do it? With just a few brief changes, this could have been a great book. Where was your editor? Where were your test readers?
Although the book is well-written and the tone is reminiscent of other works by Ms.Berg, I must agree with others that this book was just not on a par with Durable Goods ,etc, and the characters were not as well-developed as I would have liked them to be.
That being said, there were parts of the book that were certainly enjoyable - there was real insight into the fear , anxiety , patriotism and loneliness that the young GI's suffered through along with the worry, heartbreak , pride and longing their sweethearts at home were experiencing .
I found the ending to be so unbelieveable and disappointing that it left me with bad taste in my mouth . Kitty, as the protagonist, was certainly the only character whose nature was fully explored and I could not reconcile the ending with the personality of this woman .
I will certainly continue to read anything by Elizabeth Berg because she and Anna Quindlen are my two favorite authors , but this was not her best work . Perhaps her other works were just so perfect that we as her readers and fans expected too much and not every book can be the piece de resistance of a collection .