Title:The Art of Saying Goodbye
Author: Ellyn Bache
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (June 7, 2011)'
Source: review copy provided by publisher
Objective rating: 5/5
The author describes her book: "A woman in her midforties - the beautiful one with the beautiful children, the one who was always nice to everyone, the one whom all of us loved, admired, and even envied a little - was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The four main characters I invented have very different reactions to their neighbor's illness, but in each case it throws her life into perspective. And the sick woman turns out to have strengths and depths that most of the others never suspected she had.
Our friend handled her decline with a grace that amazed and humbled us, and forced us to appreciate the preciousness of our own healthy lives. In the stark glare of our shared mortality, we shed hurtful old habits and fears. We acknowledged what was really important to us." (from Ellyn Bache's note to readers).
My comments: Be prepared to be profoundly moved, even though this story is not maudlin or overly sentimental. The characters seem very real - the four neighbors of Paisley, the sick woman whom they envied in life for her good looks and her lively personality, and whom they now regard with remembered friendship, but also with pity and anxiety. They come through for her though, in different ways, and in the process, find something better in themselves. I can't say enough that's good about this novel. I loved every bit of it as I empathized, sympathized, and marveled at the plot, the realistic characters and their complex relationships.