Friday, June 22, 2012

Review of The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. by Nichole Bernier and GIVEAWAY!

About book:

Before there were blogs, there were journals.  And in them we'd write as we really were.  Not as we wanted to appear.  But there comes a day when journals outlive us.  And with them, our secrets.

Summer vacation on Great Rock Island was supposed to be a restorative time for Kate, who'd lost her close friend Elizabeth in a sudden accident.  But when she inherits a trunk of Elizabeth's journals, they reveal a woman far different from the cheerful wife and mother Kate thought she knew.

The new portrait of Elizabeth - her troubled upbringing, and her route to marriage and motherhood - makes Kate question not just their friendship but also her deepest beliefs about loyalty and honesty at a period of uncertainty in her own marriage.

The more Kate reads, the more she learns the complicated truth of who Elizabeth really was and rethinks her choices as a wife, mother, and professional - and the legacy she herself would want to leave behind.  When an unfamiliar man's name appears in the pages, Kate realizes the extent of what she didn't know about her friend, including where she was really going on the day she died.

Set in the anxious summer after the September 11 attacks, this story of two women - their friendship, marriages, private ambitions, and fears - considers the aspects of ourselves we show and those we conceal and the repercussions of our choices.

My thoughts:

How well do you really know someone?  That is the question at the heart of this book.  And that is precisely what makes this book so good - finding out that your best friend was more of a stranger to you than you ever knew.  Talk about drama!

In The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. we have best friends, Kate and Elizabeth - two women who became fast friends after meeting one another at the local mommy & me playgroup.  Kate has two kids and is married to Chris - she was a pastry chef, but has decided to be a stay-at-home mom.  Elizabeth has three kids and is married to Dave - her life is her family.  These two women rely on each other and confide in each other.  Of course, that is how Kate views their relationship.  When Elizabeth dies in a plane crash a few weeks prior to 9/11, Kate's world gets turned around.  Not only is she mourning the loss of her best friend, but now she has to contend with the idea of terrorists attacking the US - suffice it to say, she is terrified and sad.  In desperate need of a break, Kate and her family rent their favorite beach house for several weeks, instead of the usual one week they usually book.  R&R is on the agenda - nothing else.  That is until Kate gets a call informing her that she has inherited her best friend's trunk of journals.  Yep, Elizabeth decided to leave her journals to Kate and not her husband or kids.  This makes things pretty awkward and uncomfortable for Kate, who knows how hurt and upset Dave is over this decision.  But, what can she do?  Its what Elizabeth wanted, right? 

So begins Kate's summer of discovering the 'real' Elizabeth.  How else is she going to figure out what to do with the journals, unless she reads them, right?  Plus, Kate's pretty sure that is exactly what Elizabeth wanted.  And so, Kate starts from the beginning - Elizabeth's first journal from when she was a kid.  As Kate reads, we get to know Elizabeth, a woman who loved art, lived in Italy and didn't want children - a woman who resembles nothing of the woman Kate fondly remembers.  We get 'Elizabeth Uncut' and I'm not sure Kate likes what she reads.  I think that Kate is hurt and shocked at what she discovers, because it shows her just how little she really knew Elizabeth.  Plus, the journals make Kate look at her own life and relationships.  They make her more aware of things that she didn't want to be aware of.  These journals are making an impact on Kate's life in ways that she had not expected.  Her summer of R&R is turning into a summer of discovery.

Sounds like a good read, right?  Well, it is!! I absolutely loved reading The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.!  It was the highlight of my weekend! I started the book on a Friday afternoon and made myself read it at a slow pace, because I wanted to make the story last as long as I could.  Plus, reading it slowly, allowed me to digest each revelation that was discovered about Elizabeth, because let me tell you, there were some unexpected doozies in there.  Of course, that is what I loved about the book - reading Kate's reactions to Elizabeth's secrets (priceless!).  And I loved the writing - it was engaging, interesting and well done!  The characters were memorable and relatable - my favorite kind.  I would most definitely recommend this book to fans of women's fiction - you will not be disappointed!  By the by, here's a link to Nichole Bernier's website - check it out to find out more about the author and the book!

Lucky for you, I have an extra copy to give away!!  All you have to do is leave me a comment and include your email address.  This giveaway is open to US residents.  And the winner will be chosen at random.  All entries must be in by June 26th.  I'll notify the winner via email.  Good luck!

Thank you to Danielle Crabtree from Crown and Hogarth at Random House for providing me with a copy of this book and an extra one to give away!


bermudaonion said...

You've got me curious about all the revelations! Please enter me in your great contest! kathy(at)bermudaonion.net

Julie P. said...

I'm thinking this one would make a great book club pick!

Julie P. said...

Ooops! forgot my email

Nadia said...

bermudaonion, I'm glad I have you curious :) I think you'd enjoy this book - definitely!

Julie P., it would be a perfect book club pick - so much to talk about!

Booksnyc said...

I have been hearing great things about this book - I like that there is a connection to 9/11 but it doesn't focus on the events. Not sure I am ready to read about them.

Thanks for hosting the giveaway!
booksncity (At) gmail (dot) com

Nadia said...

Booksync, it really is a good read. And like you I like that the connection to 9/11 is there, but that its explored in a different way. Thanks and good luck!

Mrs. Fry said...

Sounds really interesting. I have seen it in a couple of different places. Thanks for the in-depth review.

Holli said...

This book sounds fantastic Nadia! Thanks for the chance to win it :)


Nadia said...

Brenda, it was an interesting read. I really enjoyed it. Of course, I have a preference for women's fiction, so that could be why :)

Holli, it is a fantastic read! Good luck!

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) said...

Oh this looks GOOD! I'm with Julie; it would totally make a great book club read.

my email is iwriteinbooks@gmail.com

Nadia said...

Pam, it is good! And you and Julie are both right - great selection for a book club read :)

Athira said...

I just received this book and I'm looking forward to reading it. I loved your review!