What do you do when your life isn't living up to your dreams? When the man you love is unavailable, and yet you long for a family, a home? What is the cost of compromising until the real thing comes along?
Reading Elizabeth Berg is like having a friend sit down and talk with you about the deepest truths and most perplexing issues in life, and in this exquisite new novel the bestselling author of Talk Before Sleep and The Pull of the Moon once again gives us superb fiction about a passionate woman who solves life's problems in a way that is far from traditional, but close to the wise dictums of the heart.
Patty Ann Murphy says she's "Ms. Runner-Up" in life. Rarely the bridesmaid, never mind the bride, Patty sells houses for a living (well, she's sold one house so far), longs to be married and have a family, but is irresistibly drawn to the wrong man. Ethan seems perfect for Patty--handsome, generous, and sensitive--but he's hopelessly unavailable. Patty's frustration leads her to feelings she doesn't admire--jealousy of her beautiful best friend, Elaine, for instance, about whom she says, "Find me one woman who doesn't withhold just a bit from another woman who looks like that." She's also worried about her mother, with whom she's very close but who is beginning to act strangely. Patty longs more and more for the consolation of loving and being loved, but for the moment feels she must content herself with waiting--until she can wait no more.
Andre Dubus said about Elizabeth Berg's Durable Goods, "Elizabeth Berg writes with humor and a big heart about resilience, loneliness, love and hope. And the transcendence that redeems." And the same will be said about Until the Real Thing Comes Along.
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For the protagonist of Elizabeth Berg's Until the Real Thing Comes Along, the biological clock is ticking all too loudly. Alas, there are no likely partners on the horizon for Patty Ann Murphy. Even an attractive, appropriately sensitive guy ends up giving her the heebie-jeebies: "Now he is turning my face toward him and kissing me and I feel that as soon as he stops I'll start screaming. I don't, of course. I say, 'Would you like some pretzels?'" The only man who doesn't inspire this kind of junk-food diversionary tactic is Patty's high-school sweetheart Ethan Gaines--but he happens to be gay. What's a woman of the '90s to do?
The answer: she persuades Ethan to impregnate her, and they agree to a marriage of true minds (if not bodies.) They won't, of course, actually marry, or even live together. But Patty signs on for a lifetime of child rearing with her sexually indifferent soul mate--and finds herself wading into a wealth of emotional complications. Will Ethan ever make love to her again? Will her parents accept her (essentially) single-mommy status? Berg manages to cast these thorny issues in a comedic light, without ever consigning Patty and her wisecracking cohorts to a complete farce. And there is that payoff at the end, when Ethan hands her the love child in the delivery room:
With a tenderness I would not have thought possible in earth-bound humans, he gives her to me. Her wet head is cupped; her quivering chest is calmed. What have my hands been doing all my life before this? I see now that they too have just been born. I unwrap the blanket, stop breathing.Yes, Patty does eventually start breathing again. And readers will share her delight at the undeniable fact that the real thing has finally come along. --Anita Urquhart From the Back Cover:
"Berg's writing is to literature what Chopin's études are to music--measured, delicate and impossible to walk away from until their completion."
--Entertainment Weekly, about Range of Motion
Praise for Durable Goods
" A little gem of a book."
Praise for Talk Before Sleep
" Elizabeth Berg is one of those rare souls who can play with truths as if swinging across the void from one trapeze to another."
Praise for Range of Motion
" Berg's brilliant insights about the human condition, plus her capacity for turning the ordinary into richly detailed prose, make this book the love story of the year."
--Detroit Free Press
Praise for The Pull of the Moon
" It is wise and witty, thoughtful and exhilarating. It leaves the reader observing life with great hope and satisfaction."
Praise for What We Keep
" Berg knows the hearts of her characters intimately, showing them with compassion, humor and an illuminating generosity."
--The Seattle Times
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Book Description U.S.A.: Random House, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition.... AUTOGRAPHED Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng. Signed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # 905
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