The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg


Betta Nolan, 55,  has been a widow now in Boston for several months after her beloved husband John died of liver cancer.  Per his wishes, she moves out to the Midwest to fulfill their dream and start a new life.  Betta who is an author of children’s book, sells the home she and John had lived together in and moves into an oversized Victorian home in Stewart Illinois.

While trying to piece together this new life for herself, Betta tracks down her three college roommates, Lorraine, Maddy, and Susanna.  When they hear of the loss of Betta’s husband they are all very sympathetic and agree to come to her home for a weekend and rekindle their friendship of all those years ago.

As Betta starts to mold into this new life she meets a few people in town, a handyman names Matthew, his horrific girlfriend, and Matt’s roommate Giovanni.  She also meets an interesting older man, closer to her age named Tom Bartlett.  While all these changes in her life seem good and positive, Betta questions her move and wonders if perhaps she shouldn’t go back to Boston and try to recapture her old life.



Betta's Brownstone style home in Boston




Betta's Victorian style home in Illinois




Sound a little familiar?  I recently listened to and reviewed Elizabeth Berg’s Home Safe... about a widow, who was an author, who had an opportunity to move…  listening to these so close together… was at times confusing as I would mix them in my head.

Beyond that, the storyline is quite different.  For one, Betta is a strong woman unlike Home Safe’s Helen.  Betta also has friends where Helen seemed to lean almost completely on her 27-year-old daughter.

Oh but here is another thing that the two main characters had in common for me…. Betta, bugged me.

I know, I know… I should be tarred and feathered!  I really have enjoyed Elizabeth Berg’s books for the most part and fully plan to continue reading her works through 2011, but these widowed women characters…. GAH!  Not that this storyline isn’t a wonderful one to work with, it’s just that Helen was too unsure of herself… and Betta…. Betta moved to fast into the “relationship” department for my liking.

There I said it.  I mean… she had not even been a widow for that long….. and the book gave every impression that the marriage was a good one.  And I know… that is just my opinion.

Moving on… I think my favorite part of the book was Betta reconnecting with her College friends.  I wish that storyline would have been larger. While their friendship does become a big part of the book, I did not find these characters to be developed enough for me to really know who they were that leads to what happens in the end of the book.

As long as I seem to be dishing out opinions here:  I loved the character of Giovanni, found Matthew to be wishy-washy, Tom was … well Tom, and just because I feel like saying it, I think the mailman’s shorts were too tight.  (Ok… ok, I made that up…. I do not even recall meeting a mailman in this book…. :razz:)

Seriously though, again this did not fall into a favorite of mine for Berg but I am glad I had the opportunity to listen to it.  Elizabeth works with a great array of characters that I have enjoyed meeting along the way, if I befriend them or not.


Amazon Rating


The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading Map has been updated to include The Year Of Pleasures

I borrowed this audio from my library


28 thoughts on “The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg

  1. This is one of hers that I haven’t read yet because it didn’t really appeal to me but I still keep going back to it so odds are I’ll end up reading it.

  2. I am amazed at how many books you not only get through each week but that you then have time to blog about them all in great detail.

    I know that I can always come here and get the real deal on what books to read. Thank you for being so dedicated to the love of books 🙂

    I don’t comment but I do pay attention to what you have to say which is why I have an award for you on my blog today at

    hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  3. As sheila said i am still stumped by the amount of books you manage to get through! And all the other activities you do!!! You have such an energy and your passion for books is catching!

    This book sounds like it was just another read – with no real gumption to the story.

    Looking at those pictures though – the victorian one isn’t that the house from Charmed the tv series?!

    Have a fab day 😀

    1. LOL Young1…. the house picture could be – I Googled “brownstone” and then large Victorian home” for the images. I thought it was interesting that when Bella’s husband was alive they lived pretty modestly but when she moves they describe it as a large Victorian style home. 😀

  4. It seems like a hard thing for a person to do. After the loss of a spouse to leave your center of friends and support and move across the country.
    I’d have difficulty with that.
    Mike Draper
    Please stop over and say hi at my blog.

  5. What a great honest review. I haven’t read this one but from what you describe I’d probably agree about the characters. 🙂

    Sounds like an interesting read nonetheless.

  6. I’m glad that you are honest about your opinions of the characters that you meet. I mean, we can’t love them all. Still, these stories do sound fascinating and it sounds like Berg is a really great author – to have a book that you love where you don’t necessarily love all the characters requires some good writing.

  7. Funny because I just read your review of Home Safe and thought to myself, “Hmmm, that sounds a lot like the plot in Year of Pleasures”! She wrote this one first, quite a few years ago – Home Safe is much more recent. Too bad you read them back-to-back!

    Where did you find the pictures of Betta’s homes? That is pretty cool.


    1. They are not really Betta’s homes Sue… I just grabbed pics off line that fit the description of the homes – the brownstone and then the Victorian…. 😀

      It is funny out of all the audios I had checked out that these two came to me back to back… they are similar. 🙂

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