December 15, 2011

Book Review: Once Upon a Time There Was You by Elizabeth Berg

Once UponAt First Sight: At age 36, John and Irene got married against their better judgement, mostly because they were growing older and didn't want to be alone. But neither of them had a good example to follow, both coming from broken homes and with less than ideal mother figures. 

So it's no surprise that 20 years later they are divorced and living at different ends of the country - Irene in San Francisco and John in San Paul- with only their 18 year old daughter Sadie as a link between them. 

While Irene has become a bit of a serial dater in the years since the divorce, afraid of being alone; John never quite dated until very recently. But they surprisingly think quite often of each other. 

And when their daughter's impulsive decisions force them to be together for a while, they can't help exploring the marriage they left behind, where they went wrong and the things they did right. 

Second Glance: I'm not exactly sure how I feel about Once Upon a Time, There Was You, I think that it had been written by a man it would be called "Literary Fiction" and I'm not sure I'm a literary fiction kind of girl, but I'm sure that this neither is Chick Lit or a contemporary romance or anything like that. I can't even really call it Woman's Fiction because John's point of view is both important and takes about a third of the book.

The narrative alternates between Irene, John and Sadie and I have to say that I found that quite distracting, further more I found the plot to be a bit flat. It's so grounded and so day-to-day that there is very little spark to the story.

The most interesting parts were the ones that had to do with John and Irene's pasts, at least for me, and I wasn't really interested in their current lives. Sadie, I thought I was going to like her at first but I didn't, not really. I did like the guy she was dating, and that was something but not much.

Bottom Line: This is not a lighthearted, easy to read story. If you're looking for something realistic and a bit complex, this might be your type of read, but I don't see myself going back to this type of book any time soon. The writing is quite decent though.

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