Book Review: The Art of Saying Goodbye

“Odd, how in the afterglow of someone else’s life, your own looks so much brighter.”

This line from Ellyn Bache’s new novel The Art of Saying Goodbye (William Morrow, 2011), gives you a sense of the glowing feel you will gather from this artful novel.

In the novel, golden girl Paisley suddenly learns she has a late stage cancer. It is unthinkable, and throughout the course of the novel, we see the women who know Paisley re-examining their own lives, revealing secrets and shames, and finding new footing in this redefined world. Instead of a book of darkness and mourning, the author has created a book that is at once real and luminescent, where the characters look beyond sadness to a fuller view of their interlinked worlds.

Bache (whose short story collection The Value of Kindness won the Willa Cather Fiction Prize) has built this novel with a series of chapters that each feel like a perfect little short story all their own. Her writing craft shines, and I found myself eager to pick up the book again and again, feeling that each chapter was a gift I gave to myself to savor.  Give this book to yourself and others, and enjoy!  Highly recommended.

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