The Art of Mending

The Art of Mending

by Elizabeth Berg
3.5 47


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The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg

It begins with the sudden revelation of astonishing secrets—secrets that have shaped the personalities and fates of three siblings, and now threaten to tear them apart. In renowned author Elizabeth Berg’s moving new novel, unearthed truths force one seemingly ordinary family to reexamine their disparate lives and to ask themselves: Is it too late to mend the hurts of the past?

Laura Bartone anticipates her annual family reunion in Minnesota with a mixture of excitement and wariness. Yet this year’s gathering will prove to be much more trying than either she or her siblings imagined. As soon as she arrives, Laura realizes that something is not right with her sister. Forever wrapped up in events of long ago, Caroline is the family’s restless black sheep. When Caroline confronts Laura and their brother, Steve, with devastating allegations about their mother, the three have a difficult time reconciling their varying experiences in the same house. But a sudden misfortune will lead them all to face the past, their own culpability, and their common need for love and forgiveness.

Readers have come to love Elizabeth Berg for the “lucent beauty of [her] prose, the verity of her insights, and the tenderness of her regard for her fellow human” (Booklist). In The Art of Mending, her most profound and emotionally satisfying novel to date, she confronts some of the deepest mysteries of life, as she explores how even the largest sins can be forgiven by the smallest gestures, and how grace can come to many through the trials of one.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812970982
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/01/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 513,596
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth Berg is the New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including 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.


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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The Art of Mending 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Given the 5-star rating I awarded this book, it's obvious that I liked it, but I am also a fan of Elizabeth Berg. This book really spoke to me in odd ways. I continuously read that other fans were somewhat disappointed (some very) because the characters weren't likeable, that the father dying during a family reunion was implausible, and that the story should have been told through the victim's viewpoint rather than that of her sister's. I disagree on all points except the last and even then, it's a weak agreement. I liked all of the characters except for the brother, as I thought he was a self-absorbed, selfish, and rude large child. My opinion on the father dying during the family reunion is that it's definitely credible even if it did make the abuse allegations a cliche (since the story implied knowledge on his part). I think although it would seem more sensible to have the point of view come directly from the victimized sister, it was probably important to have it come from the older sister. She was a quiltmaker; the theme in her quilt creations are escape. What was she trying to get away from? This book certainly contained a story I identified with; I think other people may as well, whether admittedly or not. I highly recommend this book.
Allison_Hostman More than 1 year ago
I work in social services and this book gave me the opportunity, again, to think about families and mending relationships. This book would be a "good read" for all ages altho ... might be more appreciated by readers over 40.
Tl44 More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Berg's writing; however, this book fell slightly short of my expectations. The idea behind the story was good; it just wasn't executed in a fun, page-turning way. It moved along too slow, definitely not a nailbiting, can't-wait-to-see-how-it-ends book. I found it rather boring and the only reason I kept reading was because I always finish the book once I start.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I grew up in a family that was so much like this one that this book took my breath away. For someone who grew up as I did, Berg's characters were so accurate that I could give them names. I read one review where the reader thought the brother was shallow. I saw the depth of his pain and what he had to do to protect himself. My mother went to any length to keep her prescription drug addiction fed. Nearly every night, she would take seven to nine Noludars (sleeping pills) and then my brother and I would carry her to bed. She finally succeeded in killing herself after several tries. AND YET, we loved her. When my siblings and I gather together, we speak of her fondly. We might have shared the same experiences but our memories are vastly different. We have finally forgiven her but the trips that each of us took to get to that point differed greatly. Each person has to take these journeys alone and at their own pace. Each person has their own story. I saw hope at the end of Berg's book and I thank her.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The adult characters had no depth, it was impossible to engage with them. The childhood memories of the older sister were a hoot. And as a quilter, I fell in love with the description of the sewing room. These little snippets were enjoyable, too bad the main story and the characters were so flat. I would not have finished it if it had not been chosen by my book club.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Of most of Elizabeth Berg's work, this was disappointing as it didn't have the usual kick and humor like her other novels. Book is ok, but not great. I started and finished the book in one day; proof of light reading. If you're looking for a true Elizabeth Berg book, this is not of her usual reputation with a surprise/uplifting ending. In all honesty it loses the reader in the last 30 pages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had never read this author's work before and after reading this book, I will never read her work again. This book could have been so much better if she had went into the life of the mother and found out why she was the way she was and the abuse should have been touched on more intensely by using flashbacks from the victim's point of view. I really think the story should have been told by the victim (Caroline) and not the sister. The only reason I kept reading this book is because I thought it was going somewhere, but when I found out it wasn't going anywhere I wished I had set it aside and read another one of the books on my list.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Could have been a short story. Skip the book unless you can't find anything else to read. Not her best book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Not surprisingly, Elizabeth Berg's latest novel an honest look into a family's struggle to survive. Her characters read so true you might think they live next door. We feel Laura's confusion, frustration and anger when her family's past interupts her current life. A book you hate to put down and don't really want to end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Now in her fifties, quilter Laura Bartone looks forward to the annual extended family gathering in Minnesota. Her husband Pete and their two children will accompany her as she gets together with her parents and her two siblings and their families. However, before they leave, her younger sister Caroline calls Laura to ask for some private time with her and their brother Steve.................................. When the siblings meet, Caroline explains that she is very depressed and considering a divorce. Laura thinks back to how as a child she used to abusively tease her sister, who always tried so hard to gain approval from their aloof mother, but failed. Caroline explains that she is getting professional help, but believes her melancholy stems from childhood abusive events that she buried. She asks her siblings if they can recall any cruelty from their parents, especially their mother towards her. At first in denial, Laura and Steve start recalling frightening horrendous incidents and other revelations surface, but whether that will help the depressed Caroline or make things worse for her and her now stunned siblings, only time will tell.................................. THE ART OF MENDING is an intriguing deep look at how adults cope or fail to muddle through childhood traumas. The story line is clearly a character study that enables the audience to see deep inside the three siblings, but is told from the lens of Caroline. Though the spouses and children seem so perfect (almost Stepford) so that they never negatively ¿impact¿ on the trio especially Caroline, fans of an insightful family drama will welcome Elizabeth berg¿s solid perceptive work...................................... Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVED THIS BOOK, and cannot figure out how some people did not. It still has some of Elizabeth,s humor and emotional saddness. Maybe that is what some do not like. I read this 5 years ago. I forgot and bought it again and really liked it again.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
This book started out strong, with great characters and a plot that I became invested in very quickly but then it all fell apart before my eyes. I really don’t know what happened, I tried rereading but nothing helped me put the story back together. The beginning was smooth and established the scenario and then as I continued reading, I felt as if I had missed parts of the story, as if someone pulled out complete paragraphs of the author’s content, leaving me in the dark. It was so frustrating and I felt like Steve, the brother in the novel. The main character did make a reference to Lost Lake, a novel that I had just finished reading. She replied that it was one of the best books that she has ever read and I have agree that it is a great novel. The characters in the story are adults now and Caroline wants her brother and her sister to meet up with her to discuss their childhood when they go to their parent’s house in a few weeks. They each have married at least once, had children of their own or moved on but they have become their own person. Caroline wants to validate a few items that she feels have occurred to her while growing up. Her sister Laura and her brother Steve each have their own opinion of Caroline and when they hear this request, an assumption is already forming. As the families arrive to their homestead, their mother and father await them. Health issues take precedence but Caroline is persistent is getting her issues out on the table. Things started to fall apart for me as I read and I really wanted to understand why Caroline was so disturbed. Emotions ran strong, confusion and/or denial seeped through and the characters tried to bring her issues from the past back. This is one book that I had to put down without closure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unrealistic, stilted dialogue, poor transitions, overall a poor offering from a gifted writer. Very disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
book-a-holick More than 1 year ago
This is my first Berg book, and it will not be my last, as I really enjoyed it. I will warn other readers that the book will be very upsetting for people that endured physical and/or emotional abuse as children. But then again, this book may help them resolve some of their traumatic childhood issues.
Tabatha87 More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful writing. I wish the book was a little longer but maybe a next book will finish the story.
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