Customer Reviews for

The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Nichole Bernier reminds one (in finely-wrought, clear, solid, t

Nichole Bernier reminds one (in finely-wrought, clear, solid, turn-the-page prose) that in motherhood, in friendship, in marriage, there are no easy answers. None of us have one side--we are instead faceted prisms, showing a side here, a side there--and when we are luc...
Nichole Bernier reminds one (in finely-wrought, clear, solid, turn-the-page prose) that in motherhood, in friendship, in marriage, there are no easy answers. None of us have one side--we are instead faceted prisms, showing a side here, a side there--and when we are lucky, we find people who we can show almost every version of ourselves. Bernier catches the rarity of those moments--and explores a grief rarely looked at; the grief of losing a friend. Wonderful book that I highly recommend.

posted by constantreaderRM on June 5, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Did anyone see To Gillian on her 37th Birthday? That movie where

Did anyone see To Gillian on her 37th Birthday? That movie where Peter Gallagher still mourns his dead wife (played by Michelle Pfeiffer, who has looked 37 for about three decades now--I'd mourn her too) two years after her death? No, me neither. But I always imagined i...
Did anyone see To Gillian on her 37th Birthday? That movie where Peter Gallagher still mourns his dead wife (played by Michelle Pfeiffer, who has looked 37 for about three decades now--I'd mourn her too) two years after her death? No, me neither. But I always imagined it was something like this book. Kind of sentimental, kind of sad, but mostly about how we hold on to our impression of a person even when the real person is dead and gone.

Elizabeth has died a year earlier (at the age of 37, no less) and her family, and especially her best friend Kate, continue to idealize her as the perfect woman. It doesn't help that she died a month before September 11, 2001, in an unrelated plane crash, so the grief over her death becomes mixed in and intensified with the grief of the nation. When Kate learns that the task has fallen to her to read and sort through Elizabeth's journals--twenty-five years worth of them--she is faced with a very different image of her friend. It turns out Elizabeth had so many secrets that Kate starts to wonder if she ever really knew her at all.

Told in both diary excerpts and third person narrative,The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D is the sort of novel that women will pass around and discuss (I'm not saying men won't like it--I really don't know--but the book is truly about being a woman, being a wife and a mother, and the relationships between women and their female friends). At the very least, it's the sort of book that made me want to call my female friends and make sure they're okay. Really okay.

Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from the publisher from NetGalley. I was not obliged to write a favourable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.

posted by CozyLittleBookJournal on June 22, 2012

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  • Posted June 5, 2012

    Nichole Bernier reminds one (in finely-wrought, clear, solid, t

    Nichole Bernier reminds one (in finely-wrought, clear, solid, turn-the-page prose) that in motherhood, in friendship, in marriage, there are no easy answers. None of us have one side--we are instead faceted prisms, showing a side here, a side there--and when we are lucky, we find people who we can show almost every version of ourselves. Bernier catches the rarity of those moments--and explores a grief rarely looked at; the grief of losing a friend. Wonderful book that I highly recommend.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Compelling Read

    What if everything you knew about your best friend was a lie? This is the situation that Kate Spenser finds herself when her best friend, Elizabeth Martin, dies in a tragic plane crash leaving behind a husband and 3 small children. Agonizing over the loss of her friend, Kate is surprised when she receives a letter from Elizabeth's lawyer. Elizabeth has left Kate all of her journals with a simple statement of "Start at the beginning."

    The story follows two story lines, Elizabeth's journal entries and Kate's impressions and reactions to them. There was so much about Elizabeth that Kate never knew and she begins to re-examine her own life and marriage. The author does a phenomenal job of inviting the reader into both Kate's thoughts and Elizabeth's writing. I was totally absorbed in the story and as I read further, was more and more surprised at how rich and deep the story had become. It makes you think about your own life and how people would remember you if you died unexpectantly.

    "The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D" is a stunning debut novel for Nichole Bernier.The characters of Kate and Elizabeth are both complicated and well-fleshed out as they struggle with their own identities of career woman vs. stay-at-home mom. Fans of women's fiction will thoroughly enjoy this story. Highly Recommended.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2012

    Nichole Bernier is a gifted writer. In this wonderfully plotted

    Nichole Bernier is a gifted writer. In this wonderfully plotted book, she explores disease, loss, marriage, fidelity, terrorism, motherhood and friendship without missing a beat. She is a gifted story teller, and with grace and deftness she writes of what one friend learns about herself and her own world after the loss of a friend she thought she knew. I am a writer, and I will recommend this book to any writer who wants to learn how to create page-turning plots.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2012

    I couldn't put this book down, carrying it with me in the car to

    I couldn't put this book down, carrying it with me in the car to read in school pick up lines, to doctor's offices, anywhere I could read a few more lines. In the unfolding mystery of the journals, the true story of a life is told, one that even her best friend didn't truly appreciate, one that offers insights we all can benefit from. Highly recommended!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2012

    We all have friends and we all wonder about their private lives.

    We all have friends and we all wonder about their private lives. What are they thinking about? What are they hiding? This is a book that lets you live out the fantasy of knowing what REALLY going on in someone else's heart. And it's smart and a very absorbing read. I highly recommend.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2012

    Couldn't Put It Down!

    In Nichole Bernier's debut novel, "The Unfinshed Work of Eluzabet D," I see mirror images of my own life, my thoughts on motherhood and friendship, and my uncertainty of both the past and the future. Bernier has an almost lyrical way of stringing words together to form sentences that make the reader experience the story with all senses.

    I am carried this book with me for days, reading at every opportunity. I highly reccomend this one as an unputdownable!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2012

    The Unfinished Work is "I don't want to go to bed until I r

    The Unfinished Work is "I don't want to go to bed until I read a little more" material. Bernier plucks emotional chords ranging from the yearning for the dreams we left undone to the fear of living in a post 9 11 world. Her work reminds me of Anita Shreve and the writing is as good as the story. I highly recommend this book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2012

    Great book group book

    My husband sometimes slips and calls my book group my playgroup. It makes me furious! Playgroups are for babies. Book groups are for smart readers who like to share thoughts on books. Totally different!

    Yet, in a way, he isn't all wrong. Let's face it playgroups are really more for the mothers than the babies. A playgroup is where the characters of Nichole Bernier's debut novel meet. When Kate meets Elizabeth, she thinks Elizabeth is one of those "perfect" mothers who is in love with baby, husband, and life. Yet, when Elizabeth dies suddenly and mysteriously wills her journals to Kate, Kate gets a very different picture of the woman she thought she knew.

    I think this is a book for this generation. Bernier has crafted a beautifully written and often heart wrenching novel that explores the complex topic of identity. What defines who we are? Career? Family? Choices? Fate? This book is sure to incite a lively discussion at your next book group meeting.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2012

    Nichole Bernier hits it out of the park with this beautifully wr

    Nichole Bernier hits it out of the park with this beautifully written novel about friends, wives, mother's daughters, secrets and loss. Weaving a captivating story that can't help but touch the hearts of each and every woman who reads it, she examines what makes us tick, breaks our hearts and keeps us living! Absolutely riveting in it's style and stunning in exposing the vulnerability in us all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2012

    I loved so many things about this book: 1) the central point: yo

    I loved so many things about this book: 1) the central point: you think you know someone, but you don't 2.) friendships, marriages and parenting experiences are complex and woven through with ambivalence, uncertainties and difficult choices, large and small 3) the small moments and turns of life are beautifully drawn throughout this story. Looking forward to Nichole Bernier's next book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2012

    Of memory and insight

    From the first paragraph's description of the George Washington Bridge, I found myself completely absorbed, intrigued, and enriched by this beautiful story of friendship, loss, and the journey to understand both. Ms. Bernier is skilled at capturing emotional resonance, the significance of small moments, and the necessity of vulnerability in friendship, marriage, and life. I loved this novel and am grateful that I now know of this wonderful new author. I look forward to Ms. Bernier's next work.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 19, 2013

    Great read

    I couldn't put the book down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2012

    Very good!

    This book was great from the beginning. She writes well, and so descriptive that you can become each character. I really enjoyed this story & will definitely read more from her in the future.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2012

    Loved this book! I was attracted to tit after rlearning the sto

    Loved this book! I was attracted to tit after rlearning the story was inspired by Nicole Bernier's losing a friend Sept. 11th. The big surprise was the eloquence of her writing! This book has received great reviews but not nearly as much publicity as it deserves. A year ago, I had a personal experience that the character Elizabeth D. has, so I should have been clued into the the book's ending, but that too came as a big surprise -- which says a lot about the way the story evolves. The character development of Kate is terrific, and her commitment to Elizabeth heart-warming. Can't wait to read Bernier's next book! It's inspiring too that this author has 5 children!

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  • Posted August 3, 2012

    THE UNFINISHED WORK OF ELIZABETH D leads the reader through a qu

    THE UNFINISHED WORK OF ELIZABETH D leads the reader through a quiet story of friends and family and the response to when the unthinkable happens. What happens when the person you thought you knew turns out to be someone else entirely? How do we respond when we uncover one's inner secrets in journals after they are gone? What will we do to help their legacy, or hinder it?

    I enjoyed Bernier's investigation into the big questions of family life and motherhood, about how we give and take to retain who we are even as we are mothers and wives. These are daily questions many of us face.

    THE UNFINISHED WORK OF ELIZABETH D invites the reader to ponder the questions we must at times face. An elegant debut.

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  • Posted July 24, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    I haven't read a book that had me reflect upon my own relationships the way this one has in very long time. Great book for club discussions. Great summertime reading! I will look for other books by this author.

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    Posted March 17, 2013

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    Posted September 23, 2012

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    Posted January 2, 2013

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