The Art of Saying Goodbye: Book summary and reviews of The Art of Saying Goodbye by Ellyn Bache

The Art of Saying Goodbye

A Novel

By Ellyn Bache

The Art of Saying Goodbye

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About this book

Book Summary

In the tradition of Kristin Hannah and Marisa de los Santos's heartfelt novels comes this beautiful and touching full-bodied contemporary story sure to propel Ellyn Bache among the top ranks of women's fiction writers

In a close-knit suburban development, four women find their lives thrown into sharp relief as they tie white ribbons to trees in front of their house - a gesture of support and affection for a long-time neighbor who has fallen ill.

During the tense three months that follow, comforting their friend also makes each of them remember how to celebrate the joys and triumphs of love, family, and girlfriends. As the days go by, these sisters in spirit grow closer, bonded by a new sense of hope, courage, and strength that will help them face any challenge, cherish every wonder, and, ultimately, learn to let go. And in the afterglow of someone else's life, each will discover that her own is brighter and more precious than she’d ever dreamed.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"What appears to be standard women's fare deepens into something more engaging." - Library Journal

"This is a moving, gratifying, and inspiring reminder to live life to its fullest and demonstrate love in every possible way to friends and family." - Publishers Weekly

"The Art of Saying Goodbye is a deeply felt and beautiful story that portrays what friends can mean to each other in ways that are difficult to articulate, and Bache has done so here in perfect pitch. Bravo!" - Dorothea Benton Frank, bestselling author of Sullivan's Island and Folly Beach

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Lucille B. (San Jose, CA)
The Art of Saying Good-bye
It’s mid-October and neighbors in Brightwood Circle are tying white ribbons to trees. Paisley Lam, mother of two children, a leading, lively and eccentric member of the community, has been diagnosed with late stage cancer with a few months to live. In the ensuing weeks four women remember past joys and sorrows, settle unresolved accounts, and forge new futures as they support each other and their dying neighbor. Ellen Bach has created a circle of friendship encompassing woman of different ages that is both inspiring and heartwarming. First chapters are slow; though characters are distinctly drawn, it takes some time to identify who’s who, since points of view shift within each chapter. A good read, especially for book groups

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Mary Q. (Greeley, CO)
Left Wanting More
I felt initially that the stated ingredients in this book, close friendships and all of them dealing with one of the women battling a serious illness, would guarantee a satisfying read for me. However, the vast majority of this book was written in a very surface style which made me not care nearly enough about any of the characters. It was easy to pick up, yet also very easy to put down. I never considered giving up on it. It just won't be very memorable for me, nor will I recommend it to any my friends who prefer books with more substance to them.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Cindy C. (Owen, WI)
Not what I expected, but enjoyable
I chose to review this book because the description led me to believe it would be about how a group of close knit women deal with one of them dying of cancer. I don't feel the book lives up to this description. I found it a little slow at the start, but after the first few chapters found it difficult to put down. I couldn't wait to find out what Paisley asked her friends to do for her in the end. I feel that the book did a fairly good job of describing how each of her "friends" lives was changed by her illness and death. I would recommend the book as a good read, but would change the description inside the cover.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Gail L. (Maitland, FL)
Unexpectedly Disappointing
Initially I thought the book was going to be a story about women who were extremely close (having lived in the same neighborhood for a long time) going through the experience of losing one of their best friends. I was very disappointed that Ellyn didn't give the characters more depth because the story line was simplistic and had too many characters. As I read, the book just didn't hold my attention because I knew Paisley's ultimate outcome. I kept hoping the plot would go deeper, but it was disjointed and disorganized. I would not suggest this book to my book club.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Lillian D. (Apache Junction, AZ)
The Art of Saying Goodbye by Ellyn Bache
The Art of Saying Goodbye deals with loss. Primarily, it describes how each of five (including the stricken one) women and their families cope with terminal cancer. The insights about the neighbors and their reactions to illness are portrayed realistically. I experienced a sense of peace as this novel ended, believing that each character had found the gem that may be discovered in the loss of a loved one.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Julia A. (New York, NY)
Part soap opera, part chick-flick
The "Art of Saying Good-bye" runs a serious risk of descending into over-sentimentality or "Love Story"-like saccharine prose. However, it stops just short of that. By using one woman's death to tell the story of four other women's adult lives, Ellyn Bache manages to weave together five very different lives (more, if you count the spouses and children) into a cohesive narrative. I admit that I found the book slow-going for the first 100 pages or so, but read the final 200 in a single sitting. This is not to say the book is riveting; it is more a question of starting to care, in spite of myself, about what happened to Andrea, Iona, Julianne, and Ginger as they came to terms with Paisley's impending death. Don't come to the book expecting profound insights, but do keep an open mind about the human drama that unfolds. I can picture the film that could be made from this novel, but I can't picture either a male reader or a male film-goer finding much to identify with or enjoy, outside of a few pages devoted to stereotyped male characters.

...12 more reader reviews

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A native of Washington, D.C., Ellyn Bache studied English at the Universities of North Carolina and Maryland, but didn't begin writing seriously until the first two of her four children were born and she knew, for sanity's sake, she'd better find an "adult" activity to do at home during the children's naps. She began as a freelance newspaper journalist while teaching herself to write fiction. After nearly six years of rejection slips, her short stories began to be published in both commercial magazines, including Good Housekeeping and Seventeen, and literary magazines ranging from Shenandoah to the Carolina Quarterly. A collection of sixteen of her stories, The Value of Kindness, won the Willa Cather Fiction Prize.

After more than twenty years living in Wilmington, North Carolina, Bache now divides her time between the Carolinas and Pennsylvania. You can visit her website at http://ellynbache.com.

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