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Tapestry of Fortunes
Cover of Tapestry of Fortunes
Tapestry of Fortunes
A Novel
Borrow Borrow Borrow
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
In this superb new novel by the beloved author of Open House, Home Safe, and The Last Time I Saw You, four women venture into their pasts in order to shape their futures, fates, and fortunes.
 
Cecilia Ross is a motivational speaker who encourages others to change their lives for the better. Why can’t she take her own advice? Still reeling from the death of her best friend, and freshly aware of the need to live more fully now, Cece realizes that she has to make a move—all the portentous signs seem to point in that direction.
 
She downsizes her life, sells her suburban Minnesota home and lets go of many of her possessions. She moves into a beautiful old house in Saint Paul, complete with a garden, chef’s kitchen, and three housemates: Lise, the home’s owner and a divorced mother at odds with her twenty-year-old daughter; Joni, a top-notch sous chef at a first-rate restaurant with a grade A jerk of a boss; and Renie, the youngest and most mercurial of the group, who is trying to rectify a teenage mistake. These women embark on a journey together in an attempt to connect with parts of themselves long denied. For Cece, that means finding Dennis Halsinger. Despite being “the one who got away,” Dennis has never been far from Cece’s thoughts.
 
In this beautifully written novel, leaving home brings revelations, reunions, and unexpected turns that affirm the inner truths of women’s lives. “Maybe Freud didn’t know the answer to what women want, but Elizabeth Berg certainly does,” said USA Today. Elizabeth Berg has crafted a novel rich in understanding of women’s longings, loves, and abiding friendships, which weave together into a tapestry of fortunes that connects us all.
Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
Praise for Tapestry of Fortunes

 
“A testament to the power of female friendships . . . Berg strips her writing down to what is essential and takes an unflinching look at lifelong regrets. The characters . . . will settle in your heart.”Booklist (starred review)
 
“Elizabeth Berg has carved out a place as one of America’s most beloved chroniclers of female friendship.”Chicago Tribune
 
“Luminous . . . As always, her writing is spare and lyrical, filled with . . . elegant description and profound insight.”Library Journal
 
“An incredibly uplifting and life-affirming story . . . Berg explores the themes of change and personal reinvention with exquisite phrasing, sharply-focused attention to detail, and boundless joy and heart.”—Bookreporter
Praise for Elizabeth Berg
 
“Truth rings forth clearly from every page. [Elizabeth] Berg captures the way women think—and especially the way they talk to other women—as well as any writer I can think of.”The Charlotte Observer, about Talk Before Sleep
 
“Elizabeth Berg’s gift as a storyteller lies most powerfully in her ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, the remarkable in the everyday.”The Boston Globe
 
“Berg’s writing is to literature what Chopin’s études are to music—measured, delicate, and impossible to walk away from until their completion. [Grade:] A+.”Entertainment...
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
In this superb new novel by the beloved author of Open House, Home Safe, and The Last Time I Saw You, four women venture into their pasts in order to shape their futures, fates, and fortunes.
 
Cecilia Ross is a motivational speaker who encourages others to change their lives for the better. Why can’t she take her own advice? Still reeling from the death of her best friend, and freshly aware of the need to live more fully now, Cece realizes that she has to make a move—all the portentous signs seem to point in that direction.
 
She downsizes her life, sells her suburban Minnesota home and lets go of many of her possessions. She moves into a beautiful old house in Saint Paul, complete with a garden, chef’s kitchen, and three housemates: Lise, the home’s owner and a divorced mother at odds with her twenty-year-old daughter; Joni, a top-notch sous chef at a first-rate restaurant with a grade A jerk of a boss; and Renie, the youngest and most mercurial of the group, who is trying to rectify a teenage mistake. These women embark on a journey together in an attempt to connect with parts of themselves long denied. For Cece, that means finding Dennis Halsinger. Despite being “the one who got away,” Dennis has never been far from Cece’s thoughts.
 
In this beautifully written novel, leaving home brings revelations, reunions, and unexpected turns that affirm the inner truths of women’s lives. “Maybe Freud didn’t know the answer to what women want, but Elizabeth Berg certainly does,” said USA Today. Elizabeth Berg has crafted a novel rich in understanding of women’s longings, loves, and abiding friendships, which weave together into a tapestry of fortunes that connects us all.
Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
Praise for Tapestry of Fortunes

 
“A testament to the power of female friendships . . . Berg strips her writing down to what is essential and takes an unflinching look at lifelong regrets. The characters . . . will settle in your heart.”Booklist (starred review)
 
“Elizabeth Berg has carved out a place as one of America’s most beloved chroniclers of female friendship.”Chicago Tribune
 
“Luminous . . . As always, her writing is spare and lyrical, filled with . . . elegant description and profound insight.”Library Journal
 
“An incredibly uplifting and life-affirming story . . . Berg explores the themes of change and personal reinvention with exquisite phrasing, sharply-focused attention to detail, and boundless joy and heart.”—Bookreporter
Praise for Elizabeth Berg
 
“Truth rings forth clearly from every page. [Elizabeth] Berg captures the way women think—and especially the way they talk to other women—as well as any writer I can think of.”The Charlotte Observer, about Talk Before Sleep
 
“Elizabeth Berg’s gift as a storyteller lies most powerfully in her ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, the remarkable in the everyday.”The Boston Globe
 
“Berg’s writing is to literature what Chopin’s études are to music—measured, delicate, and impossible to walk away from until their completion. [Grade:] A+.”Entertainment...
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Awards-
Excerpts-
  • Chapter One When I was growing up, my mother's best friend was a woman named Cosmina Mandruleanu. I liked her for a lot of reasons: her name, of course; her ash-blond hair and throaty voice and loud laugh; her bangle bracelets and black nylons and the way she was generous with the Juicy Fruit gum she always kept in her purse. She was someone who made smoking seem alluring; if she looked at you in that sidelong way when she exhaled, you felt as though you were sharing a risqué secret. She told me her grandmother was a Romanian gypsy who had passed on to her the Gift: Cosmina could tell fortunes. Mostly she used tea leaves, but she also read palms or used a crystal ball or her grandmother's ancient Tarot cards. She said her gifts were in her mind, that she could use anything, even a pair of pliers, as a catalyst for accessing her powers. But people liked the traditional props, and so she accommodated them. She once told my mother that she, too, was a bit psychic, which made my mother fluff up with pride and say, "You know, I thought so." When I asked Cosmina if she thought I had the Gift as well, she looked at me for a long time. Then she said, "You are a good student of human nature. That's a start."

    Cosmina once volunteered to tell fortunes at my junior high school's annual fund-raiser, so that the adults would have something to do besides drink weak coffee and watch Dunk the Principal. She sat in a corner of the gymnasium behind a TV tray on which she had draped a black cloth, and she wore a long black skirt and a black blouse over which she had a fringed red shawl. She'd knotted a black scarf at the base of her neck to cover her bright hair, and her makeup was more dramatic than usual: thick lines of kohl were drawn around her eyes. I offered her a dollar to have my own fortune read. She refused at first; she said she read adults only, it wasn't right to read children, especially children of your friends. Finally, though, she relented. I stood before her in my pedal pushers and sleeveless blouse, my breath caught in my throat. She laid her hands on her crystal ball and closed her eyes. Then she peered into it. After a moment, she said, "Your task will be to learn in what direction to look for life's great riches, and not to deny the veracity of your own vision."

    I stared at her, then whispered, "What does 'veracity' mean?"

    She leaned forward and whispered back, "Truth."

    When I got outside, I wrote Cosmina's words on the back of a flyer. That night, I read them again, then put the paper in a handmade wooden box I'd been given by my grandfather. It was large, about twelve by twenty, and four inches deep, made of black ash; and it had box-joint corners of which the maker was justifiably proud. He'd woodburned Japanese chrysanthemums into the lid, and they were beautiful—spidery and reaching, botanical fireworks. I'd wanted to save the box to use for something important. Here it was.



    My best friend Penny's grave has a simple headstone, light gray granite inscribed with her name, the date of her birth, and the date of her death, which was four months ago. Below that, as agreed, are these words: Say it. Penny believed that people didn't often enough admit to what they really felt, and she thought that made for a lot of problems. Being close to her meant that you had to attempt unstinting honesty, at least in your dealings with her. Her husband, Brice, could get annoyed about this, and so could I—a lack of deceit requires a kind of internal surveillance that can feel like work, and there are, after all, times when a lie serves a noble purpose. But overall, I think both he and I understood the value of such candor, and appreciated...
About the Author-
  • Elizabeth Berg is the author of many bestselling novels, including The Last Time I Saw You, Home Safe, The Year of Pleasures, and Dream When You're Feeling Blue, as well as two collections of short stories and two works of nonfiction. Open House was an Oprah's Book Club selection, Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year, Talk Before Sleep was short-listed for an Abby Award, and The Pull of the Moon was adapted into a play. Berg has been honored by both the Boston Public Library and the Chicago Public Library and is a popular speaker at venues around the country. Her work has been translated into twenty-seven languages. She lives near Chicago.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    January 15, 2013
    A motivational speaker struggles to follow her own advice after a close friend dies. Cecilia, successful self-help author and woman of a certain age--which she declines, on principle, to disclose--travels the nation inspiring others to be their best selves. However, since her best friend Penny died after a short illness, Cecilia herself is now adrift. Penny, her next-door neighbor in Minneapolis, had tried to persuade Cecilia to take a vacation and go globe-trotting with her. But Cecilia procrastinated, and now it is too late. Consulting a variety of fortunetelling devices, she sells her home--she has never married--and moves in with three other women, who are also at loose ends. The witty repartee among the four, and their interaction with their pet, an aging yellow lab named Riley, is the most enjoyable aspect of this otherwise predictable pastiche of time-worn truisms on loss and aging. The four (and Riley) soon leave domestic routine to traverse the heartland in search of lost opportunities. Cecilia intends to reconnect with globe-trotting heartthrob Dennis, with whom she lost touch after college. Her traveling companions, advice columnist Renie, family physician Lise and chef Joni, are seeking, respectively, a lost daughter, an ex-husband and culinary inspiration. (Riley is just hoping for lots of road-food leftovers.) The bromidic plot leaves no doubt as to the outcome for all four. Berg marshals sentimental subplots in support of her inspirational thesis: The wry voice of the departed Penny reminds Cecilia that time's winged chariot is hovering just overhead, the fiancee of a dying man in a hospice where Cecilia volunteers (that was Penny's deathbed wish) offers him a last hope, and Cecilia's dotty mother, an assisted living resident, is bent on getting married. However, the characterization, particularly of Cecilia, is too sketchy: A deeper, more fully articulated back story might have lent needed depth to our understanding of how Cecilia arrived at this juncture in her life. Berg fails to play to her strengths here.

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    November 1, 2012

    Craving change, Cecilia Ross takes time off, disposes of her home, and moves into a grand old house in St. Paul with three roommates. The four women decide to take a road trip, one to connect with the daughter she gave up, another with a former husband; a professional chef wants to check out other restaurants. As for Cecilia, that unexpected letter from former heartthrob Dennis Helsinger has her sailing on the wind. Who better to tell this story than quintessential women's author Berg?

    Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from January 1, 2013
    Any woman who has ever longed to shake off her life and embark on a road trip with female companions will love Tapestry of Fortunes. Cecilia Ross, a motivational speaker who teaches others to live their truth, is unable to follow her own advice. When she receives a postcard out of the blue from the one man she never got over, she realizes it's time to turn her regrets around. She seeks guidance from the fortune-telling devices that she stores in a box in the bedroom closet. Acting on their messages, Cece puts her house on the market, moves in with three women who are equally restless, and takes off with this newfound pack of friends, each on a mission to find the people and opportunities they missed. This book has all the ingredients for a highly satisfying read: a backroads journey, a testament to the power of female friendships, and the possibility of second chances. Berg strips her writing down to what is essential and takes an unflinching look at lifelong regrets. The characters are so completely realized, even the bit players will settle in your heart. High-Demand Backstory: The latest from the best-selling Berg, the author of more than 20 novels, will receive the full array of marketing support from the publisher.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

  • Bookreporter

    Praise for Tapestry of Fortunes "A testament to the power of female friendships . . . Berg strips her writing down to what is essential and takes an unflinching look at lifelong regrets. The characters . . . will settle in your heart."--Booklist (starred review) "Elizabeth Berg has carved out a place as one of America's most beloved chroniclers of female friendship."--Chicago Tribune "Luminous . . . As always, her writing is spare and lyrical, filled with . . . elegant description and profound insight."--Library Journal "An incredibly uplifting and life-affirming story . . . Berg explores the themes of change and personal reinvention with exquisite phrasing, sharply-focused attention to detail, and boundless joy and heart."

  • The Charlotte Observer, about Talk Before Sleep "Truth rings forth clearly from every page. [Elizabeth] Berg captures the way women think--and especially the way they talk to other women--as well as any writer I can think of."
  • The Boston Globe "Elizabeth Berg's gift as a storyteller lies most powerfully in her ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, the remarkable in the everyday."
  • Entertainment Weekly "Berg's writing is to literature what Chopin's études are to music--measured, delicate, and impossible to walk away from until their completion. [Grade:] A+."
  • Chicago Tribune "A writer whose luminous prose is likely to stay with you a long, long time."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Berg could be creating a new genre. . . . [She] is especially wonderful at depicting the small revealing moments of women's friendships, the offhand sharing of secrets in the grocery store."
  • Booklist "Berg's impeccable prose gives voice to that element in our psyche that enables us to cope with the impossible. . . . Berg writes on a higher plane."
  • The Miami Herald "One of the most life-affirming writers around."
  • Newsday "Berg has a gift for capturing the small, often sweet details of ordinary life."
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