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Dream When You're Feeling Blue

Dream When You're Feeling Blue

3.5 65
by Elizabeth Berg

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New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg takes us to Chicago at the time of World War II in this wonderful story about three sisters, their lively Irish family, and the men they love.
As the novel opens, Kitty and Louise Heaney say good-bye to their boyfriends Julian and Michael, who are going to fight overseas. On the domestic front, meat is


New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg takes us to Chicago at the time of World War II in this wonderful story about three sisters, their lively Irish family, and the men they love.
As the novel opens, Kitty and Louise Heaney say good-bye to their boyfriends Julian and Michael, who are going to fight overseas. On the domestic front, meat is rationed, children participate in metal drives, and Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller play songs that offer hope and lift spirits. And now the Heaney sisters sit at their kitchen table every evening to write letters–Louise to her fiancé, Kitty to the man she wishes fervently would propose, and Tish to an ever-changing group of men she meets at USO dances. In the letters the sisters send and receive are intimate glimpses of life both on the battlefront and at home. For Kitty, a confident, headstrong young woman, the departure of her boyfriend and the lessons she learns about love, resilience, and war will bring a surprise and a secret, and will lead her to a radical action for those she loves. The lifelong consequences of the choices the Heaney sisters make are at the heart of this superb novel about the power of love and the enduring strength of family.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A Rita Hayworth look-alike and her sister keep the home fires burning for young men going off to fight WWII in Berg's nostalgic tale of wartime romance and family sacrifice. Hoping her boyfriend, Julian, will propose before shipping out to the Pacific, beautiful redhead Kitty Heaney discovers not only is she not engaged, but she's enlisted as the delivery person for her sister Louise's engagement ring from Michael, her boyfriend, who has departed for the European front. Distance makes Louise's and Michael's hearts grow fonder while Kitty discovers independence through her job at a bomber factory. As the months go by, Louise learns she is pregnant and Kitty meets an attractive soldier (one of many the girls encounter) at a USO dance. As the young soldiers offer a range of feelings about war from humor to anger, wonder to despair, Berg (We Are All Welcome Here; The Handmaid and the Carpenter; 2000 Oprah pick Open House) captures changing attitudes toward working women and single mothers in this sentimental celebration of a bygone era. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal
World War II is raging, and sisters Kitty and Louise have already seen the boys they love march off to battle, while little sis Tish starts dancing up a storm at USO events. Their tale is told through the letters they exchange. With a 14-city tour; Reader's Circle book group feature. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A Chicago trio maintains long-distance romances with their WWII soldiers. Berg's latest (The Handmaid and the Carpenter, 2006, etc.) centers on a lively family in the Midwest. The large, God-fearing and Communist-hating Heaney brood consists of doting but strict parents, three beautiful daughters and three spunky sons. The Heaney family tries to do its part for the war effort: The young ones collect scrap metal, the older ones work in factories. Berg does a fine job of capturing the lives of American civilians during the war-there are references to everything from FDR's "Fireside Chats" to Ladies Home Journal rationing recipes. The bulk of the story centers on the three Heaney girls as they transition into adulthood. Reminiscent of the beloved girls from Little Women, the Heaney sisters (Louise, Kitty and Tish) are passionate, headstrong and for the most part admirable-though they each have moments of self-absorption and carelessness. Their spare time is devoted to writing letters to their far-off loves, and this is where Berg focuses her efforts. The sisters' barrage of mundane letters is for the most part tiresome. A few tear-stained epistles would have done the trick, but Berg takes it too far. An overwrought and monotonous depiction of life in Middle America during WWII.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
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5.15(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.65(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

APRIL 1943

It was Kitty’s turn to sleep with her head at the foot of the bed. She didn’t mind; she preferred it, actually. She liked the mild disorientation that came from that position, and she liked the relative sense of privacy—her sisters’ feet in her face, yes, but not their eyes, not their ears, nor the close, damp sounds of their breathing. And at the foot of the bed she was safe from Louise, who often yanked mercilessly at people’s hair in her sleep.
Tonight Kitty was last to bed, having been last in the bathroom. Everybody liked it when Kitty was last in the bathroom because, of the eight people living in the house, she always took the longest. Apart from the normal ablutions, she did things in there: affected poses she thought made her look even more like Rita Hayworth—she did look like Rita Hayworth, everyone said so. She filed her fingernails, she experimented with combining perfumes to make a new scent, she creamed her face, she used eyebrow pencil to make beauty marks above her lip. She also read magazines in the bathroom because there, no one read over her shoulder. Oh, somebody would bang on the door every time she was  in there, somebody was always banging on the bathroom door, but a  girl could get a lot done in a room with a locked door. Kitty could do more in five minutes in the bathroom than in thirty minutes anywhere else in the house, where everyone in the family felt it their right—their obligation!—to butt into everyone else’s business.
When Kitty came out of the bathroom, she tiptoed into the bedroom, where it appeared her sisters were already asleep—Tish on her side with her knees drawn up tight, Louise with the covers flung off. Kitty crouched down by Louise and whispered her sister’s name. Kitty wanted to talk; she wasn’t ready to sleep yet. But Louise didn’t budge.
Kitty moved to the bottom of the bed, slid beneath the covers, and sighed quietly. She stared up at the ceiling, thinking of Julian, of how tomorrow he would be leaving, off to fight in the Pacific with the Marines, and no one knew for how long. And Michael, Louise’s fiancé, he would be leaving, too, leaving at the same time but going in the opposite direction, for he was in the Army and shipping out to Europe. And why were they not in the same branch of the service, these old friends? Because Julian liked the forest green of the Marine uniforms better than the olive drab of the Army or the blue of the Navy. Also because James Roosevelt, the president’s son, was in the Marines.
It seemed so odd to Kitty. So frightening and dangerous and even romantic; there was an element of romance to this war, but mostly it just felt so odd. As though the truth of all this hadn’t quite caught up with her, nor would it for a while. No matter the graphic facts in FDR’s Day of Infamy speech after the bombing of Pearl Harbor: the three thousand lives lost, the next day’s declaration of war on Japan, then Germany’s declaration of war on the United States. Kitty’s facts were these: she was Kitty; he was Julian; every Saturday night they went downtown for dinner at Toffenetti’s and then to one of the movie palaces on State Street. Sometimes, after that, he would take her to the Empire Room at the Palmer House for a pink squirrel, but her parents didn’t like for Kitty to stay out so late, or to drink. Now his leave after basic was up and he was shipping out, he was going over there. And both boys foolishly volunteering for the infantry!
Kitty rose up on her elbows and again whispered Louise’s name. A moment, and then she spoke out loud. “Hey? Louise?” Nothing. Kitty fell back and rested her hands across her chest, one over the other, then quickly yanked them apart. It was like death, to lie that way; it was how people lay in coffins. She never slept that way, she always slept on her side. Why had she done that? Was it a premonition of some sort, a sign? What if it was a sign? “Louise!” she said, and now her sister mumbled back, “Cripes, Kitty, will you go to sleep!” It was good to hear her sister’s voice, even in anger. It soothed and anchored her. She breathed out, closed her eyes, and in a short while felt herself drifting toward sleep. She wanted to dream of Julian on the day she first met him: confident, careless, his blond hair mussed and hanging over one eye, his short-sleeved shirt revealing the disturbing curves of his muscles. She tried to will herself toward that.

Meet 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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Brief Biography

Chicago, Illinois
Date of Birth:
December 2, 1948
Place of Birth:
St. Paul, Minnesota
Attended the University of Minnesota; St. Mary¿s College, A.A.S.

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Dream When You're Feeling Blue: A Novel 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 65 reviews.
H_Batista More than 1 year ago
This book opened my eyes to so much. It made me wish my grandfather was still alive so I could ask him about the girls he wrote too while he was in the war, and ask him so many other questions. I'm 24 years old and really I didnt know much (or really care) about WWII but reading this book made me want to know, it made me wish I had grown up during it and been apart. I wanted to work on the planes and do the "mans" job while they were off to war. It was an amazing book that really pulled at my heart strings....
mariposaHW More than 1 year ago
Reading this book is like being transported back to WWII and living with an American family in day-to-day life. I picked this up at Barnes and Noble on a Publisher's Clearance table... wasn't sure whether it would be as great as I thought it might be... but it was summer so I went for it. It is FANTASTIC! I couldn't wait to get home to read it each day- not because it was an on the edge of my seat read- but because I wanted to be with the family in the book. It gives insight to American life during WWII that I have never had before... metal collection, limited food choices, military factories... all for "the sake of the boys at war." I am truly able to understand the life that my grandparents lived at that time. As odd as this may sound, I feel honored to have been "allowed" to be with the characters in this book. I have already passed it to my mother, who has added her name below mine on the inside cover and will pass it to another family member before sharing it with our community of friends. I do not usually write reviews... but this one was worth my time. If you enjoy character studies, you will love this book. ENJOY!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not going to lie, I picked up this book because I loved the cover, and the title is such a great song. The 1940's had the best music, and appariently the best romance, as Berg artfully illistrates. "Dream When Your Feeling Blue" is by far her best work--right after finishing it I read almost all the rest of her books, but none compared with this. The main character was very relatable, and the story is a fast and easy read. Its perfect for a day when one needs to unwind and escape into another world. Berg creates an ironicly "ideal world" for us, despite the raging war, the Heaney household is an image that every American is familiar with, even if they are familiar with it purely through books or tv/movies. By the end of the book one feels as if they really do know the characters, inside and out--you really fall in love with the characters and setting of the book. The end is a twist, which I must admit I very much disliked, but it shocked me and definitly made this book memorable, however much I disagree with Berg's choice.
There is a definite feminist tone to the novel and its plot, but ironically the feminist choice the main character makes seems to leave her slightly unhappy and definitly unfulfilled at the end of her life. Either way you want to look at it, the book and its ending are honest.
A definite read, I was most pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it.
Packernut13 More than 1 year ago
When I first picked up this book I fell in love with the characters and the life that they were leading. As I read I felt a connection with Kitty and with the confusion she was feeling over her work her family and her struggle between Julian and Hank. I loved the novel until I reached the chapter titled Valentines Day 1946. I read this chapter 3 times to full grasp the context and when I did finally get the full picture I was disappointed. I was also let down by the final chapter. A would have gladly read a few more chapter to understand how things changed so much between the end of the war and 1946.
anonymous67 More than 1 year ago
Not good. Had trouble staying interested and skipped huge sections. The ending was abrupt and made mo sense in the context of the story line. Waste of money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very well written and I enjoyed the authenticity of the dialogue and the events. Unfortunately for me, the book never really seemed to pick up. I also was not a fan of the ending. I would reccomend however it to someone who enjoys reading about this time period as much as I do.
A-Duquesne-Girl More than 1 year ago
Gee ----was just born at the time these girls were writing their letters and did not really live thru any of it----just listening to my mom and her sister tell stories---well this could have been their book. The food they ate, church, dressing all of that I do remember and it brought back some wonderfull memories. Loved it only I read it tooooooo fast-----but you just had to---could not put the book down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the book dearly i cried about micheal and yelled about hank and complained to anyone who would listen how odd,depressing, over all annoying the ending was i just don't understand how one could that great of a book with that horrible of an ending poor kitty. Poor tish. Poor micheal. The ending needs to be junked.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this story of sisters during WW2. I would recommend this book to anyone!
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Well, I love books about WWII and for the most part, this book was great. The descriptions, the letters from the soldiers to the sisters and vice versa gave the ability to transport back in time. I was able to connect with the characters and form a bond with them. And then came the ending, which was a shock - and not in a good way. The lack of explanation for why Kitty, Hank and Louise came to their decisions was infuriating. Maybe I could forgive Berg for marrying Hank to the wrong sister if she had only explained what lead Kitty to her ultimate sacrifice and the life that she missed out on. Or why Louise wouldn't be fooled by it - they were so in tune with each other for the whole story! Why Kitty still felt the need to lie after sixty years...the ending ruined the whole book for me and I would not waste my money on it if I were you.
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ferrian More than 1 year ago
I have bought several copies for friends. One of the best books I have ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago