Cecilia Ross makes a good living as a motivational speaker and author, encouraging others to reinvent themselves with her "You.2: Creating a Better Version of Yourself" speech. In spite of this, Cece's own life has taken a terrible downturn with the death of her best friend and next-door neighbor, Penny. Although indulging in many conversations with her deceased friend and plenty of visits to her grave, as well as spending time lost in the memories of their friendship, Cece is unable to shake a pervasive sorrow. That down-deep-in-the-soul sadness is making it impossible for her to enjoy life's pleasures. She no longer fully relishes her job or takes much comfort in the home she previously adored.
Yet she feels stuck until she receives a surprise in the mail. It's an old black and white photograph transformed into a postcard --- and it's from Dennis Halsinger, who Cece can't help believing was the love of her life, her one and only. Cece and Dennis lost touch long ago, when he went a-journeying, and Cece, paralyzed by fear, let him go on alone.
"Author Elizabeth Berg explores the themes of change and personal reinvention with exquisite phrasing, sharply-focused attention to detail, and boundless joy and heart --- as only she can."
The postcard simply states:
"I still think of you.
How are you?
Those three lines not only inspire Cece to write to her soul mate, they also open her up to life's offering of possibilities. She is motivated to act on a suggestion Penny once gave her: to take a leave from her job in order to volunteer at the Arms, a local hospice. In the meantime, after hearing that Penny's husband is making huge changes in his life, Cece blurts out that she's thinking of moving in with other people. Coincidentally, fatefully, her mother has a friend whose granddaughter is looking for a roommate. Little does Cece know, as she approaches the house with a room for rent, that she will soon find herself in a new home, surrounded by friends who join her in planning the road trip of a lifetime (Bowling! Pie! Reconnecting with loved ones from the past! Hot tubs! Truck stop biscuits and gravy!)…and looking forward to seeing Dennis once again.
For now, though, she's filled with trepidation. Is it crazy to put her house on the market? Is she beyond the stage in life where she can change? Is she too old to truly become close friends with strangers? Will she ever feel at ease in the company of Michael, the young man with whom she is expected to sit as he dies?
Author Elizabeth Berg explores the themes of change and personal reinvention with exquisite phrasing, sharply-focused attention to detail, and boundless joy and heart --- as only she can. Cece is such a well-drawn three-dimensional character that readers may find themselves not only relating to her, but actually forgetting where they leave off and Cece begins; in her quest, she is Everywoman. TAPESTRY OF FORTUNES brings us all we love about Berg's writings --- affectionate depictions of those everyday feelings and items that make up our worlds, buoyed by hopefulness. Once again, she manages to give us an incredibly uplifting and life-affirming story without being one bit saccharine. Her zillions of ardent fans are in for a huge treat.
And if you haven't discovered Berg’s writing yet, this book is sure to set you on the path of finding all of her excellent stories (by the way, I envy you!).
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on April 19, 2013