The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.: A Novel
by Nichole Bernier
Paperback- $10.73

Before there were blogs, there were journals. And in them we’d write as we really were, not as we wanted to appear. But there comes a day ...

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  "Deeply moving, beautifully written" by KimberlyAnne (see profile) 08/05/12

Light enough for a summer read but deep enough to stay with you long after you're done. Every mother should read this. It inspires me to look within and more importantly to reach out.

  "great emotional book" by msharry (see profile) 09/06/12

What a great book! I thoroughly enjoyed the likeable, fallible characters and found myself completely engrossed as their personal struggles are gradually revealed through journals entries and reflections on them. Kate is a woman vaguely dissatisfied with her life and, like many others, has a tainted view of safety and normalcy in wake of 9/11, less than a year past as the story opens. Compounding her reaction is her grief over the loss of her close friend, Elizabeth, in a airplane crash. When Elizabeth’s will leaves her 25 years worth of journals, Kate is made to contemplate not only on her friend’s secrets but her own life, marriage, and choices as she reads them. She ponders the following questions: What secrets do we keep from those closest to us? What are the unknown effects of the decisions we make? What about the roads we chose not to take? Is there perhaps a lot of “invisible wishing” in everyone’s life? How much of herself should a woman be expected to sacrifice to be a “good” mother and wife?

Elizabeth’s diaries reveal a very different woman than the one Kate had known and loved, and Kate must decide what to do with the information she has discovered. Although it is too late for Elizabeth, what changes to her life and marriage will Kate make? The two women’s husbands are contrasted throughout the story with Elizabeth’s Dave coming out the less favorable, but Kate is concerned that she and her Chris are drifting apart. Kate commented that she was reading the journals “as if she were following bread crumbs, looking for wisdom about what makes two people fall out of sync and then imperceptibly apart, perhaps without one of them even knowing.”

While the story is filled with worry, loss and frustration, it is also studded with joy and contentment in the details of daily life with children. Kate will examine everything in her life and finally come to peace with what she sees as her future. Great, emotionally-satisfying novel.

  "Good Story Gone Bad" by Stephanie2913 (see profile) 03/04/13

Unfortunately what started as a good story with potential fell flat and wasn't well told.

  "The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D" by tonitr (see profile) 04/27/13

Good book for discussion.

  "The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D." by skarohlid (see profile) 05/23/13

Our book club was not impressed with the confusing mix of themes of this book. We usually read books featuring strong characters, especially women, and many of us felt that these characters were not developed enough to transform them.

  "Our lives should never be left unfinished." by nbaker (see profile) 01/05/16

I'll admit it -- I love to journal. They are a release, a conversation with yourself. I journaled daily when my son was deployed for 15 months in Iraq and then another 12 months in Afghanistan. It was important for me to know that he knew that he was utmost in our thoughts and prayers. I journal thoughts, stories and poems. Because of my passion for the written word, I am always elated when I run across a book dealing with letters or journals from the past.

Elizabeth D has been killed in a plane crash. Her husband and 3 children are devastated and her best friend, Kate, from the old neighborhood is in shock. Elizabeth and Kate spent much time shopping together, swapping stories, engaging in Mother's Clubs, babysitting for one another, etc. Though they no longer lived across the street from one another, the connection is still there -- especially for Kate.

Elizabeth D loved to journal. She has been writing in journals since her adolescent years. She has a trunk filled with her life's stories. Her husband respects her privacy and the privacy of her journals. However, when she accidentally dies, he finds she has willed all of her journals to be given to her friend, Kate, who can then decide what to do with them. He is suddenly faced with a feeling of betrayal that he will never know what words are inscribed within them and anger that his wife did not entrust them to him. Kate is confused as to her friends request and afraid of what she might find inside.

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves just how well we know other people. Do we truly know our friends, family, co-workers, even our spouse or are they merely showing us the sides of them they want us to see? And if we are true friends -- true listeners, then why the need to keep feelings and experiences hidden? Is it deceit? Mere omission? Fear of criticism or rejection? Or are some things just better off left unsaid?

Journals can oftentimes be a conversation with yourself. An opportunity to divulge your feelings without the opinions of others. It can be a cleansing experience to relieve stress or fears without burdening others. Perhaps there are times when there is much more people would like to say in a conversation if others would just remain quiet and listen.

Elizabeth D's life may be over, but her story lives on in her journals. This is a beautiful story of how we, far too often, find ourselves attached to the surface of a person without realizing that it is the inner makings and life experiences of that individual that brought beauty and character to their surface.

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