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Tapestry of Fortunes

Cover of Tapestry of Fortunes

Tapestry of Fortunes

A Novel
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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 Weekly

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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 Weekly

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    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 Penny's efforts to steer us toward it. And then there was this: we wanted to please her because we both loved her so much. Loved and needed her.

    And here she is.

    I lean back on my hands and look out over the acres of graves. I used to feel that cemeteries were wasted space, that they could be put to far better use as parks, or golf courses, or even to allow for more living space. But I've changed my mind. There is a wide peace here, even in sorrow; and it's sitting beside Penny's grave that I can best feel her.

    "Going to Atlanta tomorrow," I tell her.

    Good gig?

    "It is good. Early flight, though. You know I hate those early flights."

    Stop whining.

    "Your sweet peas are blossoming," I say. I planted some recently, at the base of her headstone.

    I know. I see. Pink.

    "Where are you?"

    Silence.

    "Penny?"

    She's gone.

    She always leaves when I ask that question; I don't know why I keep asking it. Well, yes I do. I keep asking it because I keep wanting to know where she is.

    I sit for a while longer, appreciating the feel of the sun on my back, the sound of the mockingbird in the tree nearby imitating the whistle of a cardinal. A few rows...

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.

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