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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
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.
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.
Gail L. (Maitland, FL)
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.
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.
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.
Mary S. (Hilton Head Island, SC)
I really wanted to like this book and stuck with it to the very end, but unfortunately, I knew how it was going to end after reading chapter one. The writing was simplistic and pedantic. The story line was not original. I felt as if the author wanted to tie up loose ends and provide some sort of mystery which was solved at the end. She never succeeded.
Susan B. (Coventry, RI)
The Art of Saying Goodbye by Ellyn Bache
I loved this book; I couldn't put it down. It was full of characters who lived in a neighborhood that provided the setting for this absorbing story. The characters were real people; Ellyn did a wonderful job in fleshing out their personalities. For me, it was one of those books that I hated to see come to an end because I wanted to spend more time with them. I think this would be an excellent choice for any book club.