Book Review: The Year of Pleasures
Title: The Year of Pleasures
Author: Elizabeth Berg
What's it about?
Betta Nolan is rediscovering who she is as if it were the first time. The lost of her husband was devastating and now she's left to move on and make her life whole again in the best way she knows how, by accepting that John is gone and honoring his memory in the form of granting his final wishes. Life will never be the same for Betta again, but that might not be the worst thing ever, either.
Favorite Character: This is hard,. not becuase I didn't like everybody, but because I liked most of the characters in the story. But, I think I'm going to go with Betta this time. There was just this settle evolution of her as she connected with those around her, those from the past and herself. None of it is easy for her, but she makes it through and remembers to smile as she does so. She's a well rounded, relatable and real character who's fears and emotions are capable of manifesting themselves on their terms.
Least Favorite Character: Melanie. She's selfish, cruel and honestly comes off as heartless. I really wish Betta had smacked her one of the many times she had a chance.
Favorite Part: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I don't this I have an answer for this. There's not one part that stands out as the "best" because there were so many moments, so may small, real, grounded moments with heart that garbed my heart. Interactions between Betta and so many of the people around her, when Benny has "girl problems" and reunions are had.
Favorite Quotes: "'Don't let your habits become handcuffs,'" he's said, and I'd asked him if he'd gotten that from some dumb self-help book. 'No,' he'd said. 'It's my own dumb idea.'" (pg. 63) I find that line almost freeing. We do find refuge in our habits, scared to shake things up and get outside our boxes. Sometimes, we let ourselves get so stuck in that box, with those habits, we end up standing in our own way.
"There is a story about a Navajo grandfather who once told his grandson, 'Two wolves live inside me. One is the bad wolf, full of greed and laziness, full of anger and jealousy and regret. The other is the good wolf, full of joy and compassion and willingness and a great love for the world.. All the time, these wolves are fighting inside me.' "But grandfather,' the boy said. 'Which wolf will win?' the grandfather answered, 'The one I feed.'" (pg. 165)
The beauty of this book is it's simplicity. There's no natural disaster, no fire or murder. There's no con person trying to take advantage of a vulnerable woman. It's just a story about a woman redefining who she is and what her life looks like. It's a string of vulnerability and truth as Betta bounces between cherished memories of her life with her husband John and where she ends up in the present. She's surrounded by people who care and want to help her, but somethings can not be healed externally. There's a phenomenal balance between Betta's grief and moving forward, leaving the scale perfectly leveled. I never felt like Betta didn't care for her husband, but it wasn't a depressing story in deep grief. A Year of Pleasures reminds me of a lite version of a Hallmark Movie (tons of feels with the need for less tissues) meets P.S I love you in this cozy, Fall perfect quick read.
What I rate this:
I give this book a