Publisher: Crown Publishing
Release Date: June 5th, 2012
Genre: Adult Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Source: TLC Book tours. Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Blurb: 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 than the cheerful wife and mother Kate thought she knew.
The complicated portrait of Elizabeth—her troubled upbringing, and her route to marriage and motherhood—makes Kate question not just their friendship, but her own 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 own 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 11th attacks, this story of two women—their friendship, their marriages, private ambitions and fears—considers the aspects of ourselves we show and those we conceal, and the repercussions of our choices.
Review: Looking for a great character driven novel that will leave you aching for more from the author and these characters? Well, then look no further. The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. was amazing!! Beautifully written and sprinkled with journal entries that really left you thinking. This is what I call a “thinking” book because it left me questioning my opinions on several topics. It made me question my outlook on marriage, family, and friendship. I don’t know how to explain it without ruining it, but just know that it left me feeling confused and conflicted. But I love books like that. I love books that make me question things.
As far as character development goes, it was wonderful, but not perfect. I felt like I got to know Kate pretty well, but because my only interaction with Elizabeth was through her journal entries, I didn’t feel like I knew her as well. I definitely could relate and sympathize with her situation but I was missing that connection to her. Also, the husbands were pretty unlikable characters. I’m not sure that was intentional but I thought they were pretty douchey at times. And while I think that helped to create emotions while I was reading, I’m not sure that it was fair to the characters or men in general. This was one thing I could never really work out in my head. And by the end of the book, it was no better. This was definitely a book that featured two strong women. But I’m not sure it was necessary to make the men appear weak to make the women stronger. Their characters were strong and determined without that.
This was definitely a book that was hard to put down and it kept me thinking and turning the pages late into the night. Some questions it raised in my mind:
How much do you ever really know a person without knowing their innermost thoughts and desires? I mean, people show you what they want you to see. There is so much to a person that we never really know. When Kate read Elizabeth’s journals, a lot of that was revealed. How much do I really know my best friend? Or even my husband?
What are the traditional roles of marriage and child-rearing and are they relevant anymore? Should a woman be forced to be the one to stay at home and raise the kids just because she gave birth to them? Is it right for your spouse to expect you to abandon your dreams and goals? Why is it that when a woman gets pregnant, a lot of times, she is the one that has to sacrifice her ambitions to raise the kids? Why can’t the father stay at home and raise the kids? I know that it happens, but it’s rare. And I’m totally not taking a side here, I’m just thinking out loud. I told you this was a thinking book. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. But I can’t really reveal more without spoiling the plot.
Before I go, I want to leave you with a couple of passages from the book that I loved. It also gives you a sample of the writing so you can tell if you will like the writing style. It’s a gorgeous book.
The number of cargo vehicles on the ferries seemed to increase every year. When Kate first started coming to the island twenty years earlier–as a high school babysitter accompanying a family on its annual monthlong vacation–there had been only two ferries a day, and no trucks. Back then, very little could be gotten on-island that wasn’t growing there. Sweet corn came from one of several nameless farm stands, and everyone bought pies from the front-yard gazebo of a woman who didn’t keep a menu or a schedule of hours. Lines formed daily for seafood on the southwestern docks, fresh fish, lobster, and clams nearly every afternoon.
How many things in life are like this, near misses? Every day consists of these tiny choices with 57,000 trickle-down effects. You catch a different subway and brush against a stranger with meningitis, or make eye contact with someone you fall in love with, or buy a lotto ticket in this bodega instead of that one and totally cash in, or miss the train that ends up derailing. Everything is so fucking arbitrary. Every move you make and a million ones you don’t all have ramifications what mean life or death or love or bankruptcy or whatever. It could paralyze you if you let it. But you have to live your life. What’s the alternative?
I really connected with the writing. The sensory language really pulled me in and really worked for me. There were times when this wasn’t an easy book to read. It got pretty depressing in certain parts. You have to be in the right frame of mind and mood to read it. I did quite enjoy it though. It was a beautifully written story about love, marriage, motherhood, and dreams, but most of all it was about the friendship between two remarkable women.
And now, for the giveaway. Up for giveaway is one copy of The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. This giveaway is US/CA only. No PO boxes. Sorry International readers. I have more great Int. giveaways coming soon. Giveaway starts June 14th, and ends June 21st at midnight. Winner will be notified by email and has 72 hours to confirm mailing address or another winner will be chosen. One email address per household, and I will be checking.
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