Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Art of Saying Good Bye by Ellyn Bache

3 Star

She was the thread that wove their tapestry together.
With a group of women as diverse as the ladies from Brightwood Trace, you might not think them to be close. There's Julianne, a nurse with an unsettling psychic ability that allows her to literally feel what her patients feel, Andrea, a strong fortress sheltering a faltering core, Ginger, a mother torn between being a stay-at-home mom or following her career aspirations, and Iona, the oldest, whose feisty, no-nonsense attitude disarms even toughest of the tough. Not exactly the ingredients for the most cohesive cocktail . . . Until you add Paisely, the liveliest and friendliest of the clan, who breathed life into them all. 

But when their glowing leader falls ill with cancer, it's up to these women to do what Paisely has done for them since the beginning: lift her up. Overcoming and accepting the inevitability of loss, the women draw closer than ever; finding together the strength to embrace and cherish their lives with acceptance, gratitude and most importantly, love. Finally living with the vigor that Paisely has shown them from the start, they are able to see their lives in a new light, while learning to say goodbye to the brightest star they've ever known. Over the course of just three months, these four women will undergo a magnificent transformation that leaves nobody unchanged.

Lydia - 3 Star

The Art of Saying Goodbye has a Desperate Housewives element to it, with five neighbourhood friends, their lives and children intertwined as one of the women receives tragic news.  I love reading about the friendships between women and was looking forward to this novel, but unfortunately I was disappointed and couldn’t really get into it. 

The characters seemed disjointed and not genuinely interested in each other. Maybe this is where the novel should be interesting: even without developing deep and lasting friendships, just small interactions between individuals can have a huge impact on others. But unfortunately this didn’t even come through well for me as it all seemed rather forced. The novel focuses on each woman’s family and individual issues and interjects how Paisley seemed to improve their lives individually at some point in time. There is barely a shiver of female friendship in this novel.  Don’t expect Sex and the City juicy gossip sessions or the giving and receiving of advice.  It just wasn’t there with this acquaintance style neighbourhood story.  I guess I had just hoped for more with my love of friendship novels. 

There were too many perspectives and too many flashbacks in this novel. I would have loved to learn about each character through their interactions, but it just didn’t happen because they weren’t all really friends. So as soon as I would get into one woman’s story, I was thrown back in time or tossed to another woman’s perspective. The end result being that I never entirely got interested in any of their stories. Except Iona who I grew most attached to and was my favourite by far.

I didn’t even so much as crack a tear during this novel which I should have based on the depressing subject matter. I didn’t love The Art of Saying Good Bye, but didn’t hate it given that I was interested enough to want to see how the relationship between these woman would develop.  I was sorry it never did. 

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