Book summary: Ordinary Life

2002 BY ELIZABETH BERG

In this superb collection of short stories, Elizabeth Berg takes us into remarkable moments in the lives of women, when memories and events come together to create a sense of coherence, understanding, and change. In “Ordinary Life,” Mavis McPherson locks herself in the bathroom for a week, shutting out her husband and the realities of their life together—and, no, she isn’t contemplating a divorce. She just needs some time to think, to take stock of her life, and to arrive, finally, at a surprising conclusion.

In “White Dwarf” and “Martin’s Letter to Nan,” the secrets of a marriage are revealed with the sensitivity and “brilliant insights about the human condition” (Detroit Free Press) that have become a trademark of Berg’s writing. The Charlotte Observer has said, “Berg captures the way women think as well as any writer.” Those qualities of wisdom and insight are everywhere present in Ordinary Life.

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