I’ve been doing lots of reading lately, and one of the things I’ve been reading are blog posts by John Pavlovitz. It may be the time of year, which I personally find difficult. It may be just that I’m looking for more peace, love and caring in general. Whatever the reason, I find Pavlovitz’s blog “Things that Need to Be Said, embodies much of what I’m feeling and/or wanting to hear.
If I had realized there was a book that would provide that positive view on the world for me, I would probably have read it sooner as well as read the two previous books by the author. Still, maybe I opened The Confession Club by Elizabeth Berg at exactly the right time. No matter whether I was late in finding the book or not, I’m just glad I found it. If you are looking for something that is uplifting, filled with love and acceptance and offers a view of what being our better selves look like, I recommend this book to you.
Am I being a Pollyanna? Perhaps. Did I find it restful for my heart and soul? You bet. Could you benefit? It probably depends on where you are in your stage of life. There are some people, I’ve read their reviews, who are a bit too jaded or sour on life to appreciate the book’s relentless positive nature. I’m not sure I’ve ever been that down on life, even though there have been some supremely hard times in mine. I prefer to remain hopeful, to remain positive, to believe that there are really good, caring people in the world who will come along and offer me the support I need when I need it, like what happens in the book. Here’s my review for your consideration.
This book is filled with people I want to live near, in a town that sounds idyllic. Throughout the book, the themes of love and acceptance are prevalent. It’s as if the author, Berg, has chosen this story to highlight what can happen when we engage the best in us all…the ability to give unconditionally, offer support when needed, follow dreams when there’s no guarantee of a good outcome. I have not read the previous books in this series, and perhaps that is for the best as I came to this one with no expectations. I had no problem feeling well acquainted with the characters in the book, nor did I have any problem picturing the town and the surroundings.
The book centers on Iris and Maddie, who stumble into the group of women who call themselves the Confession Club. Two of the club’s members withdraw, leaving room for an invitation to be given to Iris and Maddie to join.
Iris’ main story is as a widow who has created a successful life for herself as a baker who conducts lessons for people who want to add to their baking repertoire. Although she thinks she is content with her life, the chance meeting between Iris and John, a homeless Vietnam Veteran who is squatting in a nearby abandoned farmhouse opens her to new possibilities and desires.
Mattie has returned to the town trying to resolve her feelings of self-doubt and suspicion that she doesn’t deserve the love of her husband. Iris is a long-term friend who is living in the house Mattie owns, so when Mattie comes back and asks if she and her daughter can stay for a while, Iris welcomes them with true love and care.
As these three principal characters move through their lives they encounter love, loss, acceptance and support. They take risks and are rewarded as new doors open before them to make life interesting in different ways. Through the Confession Club they are allowed to vicariously experience other struggles ranging sex to end of life. All these subjects are dealt with gently with loving acceptance of those people who are struggling, even if the struggle isn’t something that would bother another individual.
I’m reminded of a blog I’ve read recently whose premise is that everyone is suffering, so we all could benefit by being a little kinder to one another. This book, in many ways, offers a simplified version of the positive things we might experience if we all took the suggestion to heart.
If you haven’t figured it out, I think this is a great book to read, and this may be the perfect time of year to read it. Whether it’s for you or not, I hope you find people who lift you up and care for you with extra love throughout this season and beyond. Happy Reading.