Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D; Nichole Bernier

Title: The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D
Author: Nichole Bernier
Publication Year:  2013
Publisher: Crown and AudioGo
Edition: eGalley and audio
Source: NetGalley/ and library
Setting: Massachusetts mostly
Date Completed: April - 2013
Rating: 4.5/5 
Recommended: yes

I almost passed on then book and then I read the setting for much was the Massachusetts coast; a perfect intro to summer. Wow, it's a terrific story and has no feel whatsoever of a "new debut author."

Two women, Elizabeth and Kate became very good friends after meeting up after years at a neighborhood playgroup.  Elizabeth and Kate spent the years before motherhood living in New York City, where Elizabeth was an artist and Kate was a chef. Once they became mothers circumstances changed and, Kate and her family moved out of the area. Then tragically, just before 9/11,  Elizabeth dies in a plane crash at the age of 38, leaving behind a husband and three children. Surprisingly, Elizabeth's will specifies that Kate should get her journals which she had kept up ever since she was a child.  Dave, Elizabeth's husband, is somewhat shocked by this revelation and curious about what was contained within these journals. Recently he had suspected that his wife was possibly having an affair.

Kate is surprised as well to learn about the journals. She and her husband, Chris, pick up the locked trunk with the diaries on their way to Great Rock Island for a long summer vacation with their children; the year is 2002.  Over their vacation,  Kate’s reads each journal, following Elizabeth's instructions to read them in order beginning back with her childhood.  Kate becomes completely obsessed with the task and realizes how very little she really knew about her friend Elizabeth, her sad childhood, her struggles with being a mother and more.  In the process, she begins to also question her own life, and her options.

The story is told through journal entries and Kate's reflections and reactions to what she had read. Kate's character was fully-fleshed out. At times she almost made me a bit nuts, as she is a very over-protective mom, to the nervous-wreck degree. There was so much about Elizabeth that Kate never knew until reading her most privately held thoughts on paper. I think it's important to note that there is really not much that is upbeat about this novel, yet it never felt depressing to me.  It really makes the reader wonder about how well they really know even those they are close to.  I think many of us keep a lot about ourselves and at least parts of our past private for fear of being judged by others.  In the end I was really happy I spent some time with this book I think this would make a terrific book club discussion choice, especially for women/mothers. The audio version was read by, Angela Brazil who did a wonderful job.


  1. This really appeals to me because of the journal entries. I'd like to read it soon.

  2. I won this from a blog and enjoyed it very much myself.

  3. I think a book discussion on this one would have been helpful for me. This one was a pretty quick read for me, whichever generally means I liked it - but for some reason that I can't identify there was something about it that bugged me.

  4. I was excited to see that you reviewed this book. It's on my tbr list since I read reviews of it when it first showed up in the book community, but I shamefully admit that I forgot about this book. Your review reminded me of it and you've also further piqued my interest in reading it. I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as you did, Diane!
    Great review!

  5. I have this one sitting on my shelf and need to get to it soon. I'm glad to hear that this one is a good read.

  6. I really liked this, too, and still can't believe it's a debut novel!

  7. This intrigues me. I think I shall have to eithe read it or listen to it.

  8. I'm hearing such great things about this one - think I'm going to recommend it for book club.

  9. I really want to read this one. And own the book since I love the cover.

  10. Yours is the second glowing review, so I've added it to my list. I love epistolary works and this sounds lovely.


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