Dream When You're Feeling Blue: A Novel

Dream When You're Feeling Blue: A Novel

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

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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 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...

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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.

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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.

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.

Read an Excerpt

Dream When You're Feeling Blue

By Elizabeth Berg

Random House Large Print

Copyright © 2007 Elizabeth Berg
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780739327128

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 alocked 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.


Excerpted from Dream When You're Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg Copyright © 2007 by Elizabeth Berg. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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