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The Art Of Saying Goodbye: A Novel [Paperback]

Ellyn Bache
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

May 30 2011

“Bache writes straight from the heart, peopling her pages with characters you will never forget.”
—Lee Smith, author of Fair and Tender Ladies

“Ellyn Bache draws her characters from the inside.”
Baltimore Sun

Critically acclaimed author Ellyn Bache captivates with The Art of Saying Goodbye, a beautiful and poignant story of four suburban women who gain new insights and appreciations of their own lives when a much-loved neighbor falls gravely ill. In the tradition of Kristin Hannah’s Firefly Lane and Marisa de los Santos’s Belong to Me, Bache’s The Art of Saying Goodbye is a beautiful and touching story of friendship, love, commitment, and self-discovery that will enthrall readers of Jodi Picault and Jill Barnett.


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Review

Grief, friendship, marriage, love and uncertainty—it’s all here—portrayed quietly and convincingly, without being over done. ...[A] glimpse into the lives of this intertwined group of women and their everlasting, complicated friendships—which is how a book about women and their complicated friendships should be. (New York Journal of Books)

“A moving, gratifying, and inspiring reminder to live life to its fullest and demonstrate love in every possible way to friends and family.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Sweet, profound, sweeping in its themes yet detailed in its nuances, Bache’s latest explores the layers of friendship involved in facing serious illness and buried secrets.” (Booklist)

The secrets revealed and the emotions exposed make this a compelling read. (Charlotte Observer)

“A beautiful story of friendship in the face of tragedy.” (Fresh Fiction)

From the Back Cover

She was the thread that wove their tapestry together.

With a group of women as diverse as the ladies from Brightwood Trace, you might not think them to be close. There's Julianne, a nurse with an unsettling psychic ability that allows her to literally feel what her patients feel, Andrea, a strong fortress sheltering a faltering core, Ginger, a mother torn between being a stay-at-home mom or following her career aspirations, and Iona, the oldest, whose feisty, no-nonsense attitude disarms even toughest of the tough. Not exactly the ingredients for the most cohesive cocktail . . . Until you add Paisely, the liveliest and friendliest of the clan, who breathed life into them all.

But when their glowing leader falls ill with cancer, it's up to these women to do what Paisely has done for them since the beginning: lift her up. Overcoming and accepting the inevitability of loss, the women draw closer than ever; finding together the strength to embrace and cherish their lives with acceptance, gratitude and most importantly, love. Finally living with the vigor that Paisely has shown them from the start, they are able to see their lives in a new light, while learning to say goodbye to the brightest star they've ever known. Over the course of just three months, these four women will undergo a magnificent transformation that leaves nobody unchanged.


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Most helpful customer reviews
By Lydia - Novel Escapes TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The Art of Saying Goodbye has a Desperate Housewives element to it, with five neighbourhood friends, their lives and children intertwined as one of the women receives tragic news. I love reading about the friendships between women and was looking forward to this novel, but unfortunately I was disappointed and couldn't really get into it.

The characters seemed disjointed and not genuinely interested in each other. Maybe this is where the novel should be interesting: even without developing deep and lasting friendships, just small interactions between individuals can have a huge impact on others. But unfortunately this didn't even come through well for me as it all seemed rather forced. The novel focuses on each woman's family and individual issues and interjects how Paisley seemed to improve their lives individually at some point in time. There is barely a shiver of female friendship in this novel. Don't expect Sex and the City juicy gossip sessions or the giving and receiving of advice. It just wasn't there with this acquaintance style neighbourhood story. I guess I had just hoped for more with my love of friendship novels.

There were too many perspectives and too many flashbacks in this novel. I would have loved to learn about each character through their interactions, but it just didn't happen because they weren't all really friends. So as soon as I would get into one woman's story, I was thrown back in time or tossed to another woman's perspective. The end result being that I never entirely got interested in any of their stories. Except Iona who I grew most attached to and was my favourite by far.

I didn't even so much as crack a tear during this novel which I should have based on the depressing subject matter. I didn't love The Art of Saying Good Bye, but didn't hate it given that I was interested enough to want to see how the relationship between these woman would develop. I was sorry it never did.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, wonderful book May 12 2011
By Annie B - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The Art of Saying Goodbye is one of the few books that as soon as I finished it I wanted to start it over immediately. I have only had this reaction maybe three times in my life. This book touched me deeply and I just didn't want the story to end.

Since the book description covers the basics of this novel, I'll add that this is some of the best storytelling I've ever read. The writing is so precise that I don't think that there's a single word that isn't needed in the book. That's not to say the story is sparsely told. To the contrary, the story is told brilliantly and so well that by the time it ended I felt I not only knew Paisley well, but that I knew her friends as if they were my own. That's part of the special beauty of this novel: it is about Paisley and her friends, but, essentially, it's everyone's story, could be anyone's story, and is proof of the old saw "no man is an island." During her life, Paisley touched each of her friends and helped them achieve their own personal transformation, some more obvious than others, but transformations nonetheless. During the time of her diagnosis and death, each woman remembers and comes to terms with just how Paisley has impacted them and prepare themselves somewhat for her death.

This book is not chick-lit and it isn't light reading, though it is easy to read and flows very well. It is a well-written, rich, multi-themed novel that delivers a powerful wallop. It's a serious novel, but it doesn't take itself seriously, not a melodrama in sight here. It's just a great story.

I'm already one-third of the way through my second reading of this book, which is something I have rarely done, and I'm happy to say that I'm loving it just as much as I did the first time and getting so much more from it, catching new details, than I did during my first read. There are just so many layers to this beautiful book. This would make a great book club read because it is definitely a book that once read begs to be talked about over coffee or wine--maybe even discuss it while taking a dip in a spa with your friends! What's that about a spa? You'll need to read the book to find out! I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Art of Saving Goodbye Aug. 14 2011
By Cheryl G. Maxwell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Knowing the real life woman, portrayed in the fictionalized "Paisley" character, this novel presented problems too great for me to overcome. The author's own admissions, the food deliveries, the ribbon adorned trees, the time between diagnosis and death with the exact same cancer, the two homes in our neighborhood where the family lived, and the description of the surrounding wooded areas, are but a few of the things in the book, that were exact, not fiction.

Will my deceased neighbor's mother and father, or her three daughters be able to distinguish between what is true, what was exaggerated, what was absolutely false, and what may be considered libelous? Over time the youthful memories, that the daughters have of their mother, will blur. There is no doubt, the family will forever recognize their story. Will they be able to overcome the doubts and embarrassment created by Ms. Bache's tales, of their mother's shoplifting, drinking, and sex with a neighbor?

With little effort, Ms. Bache could have made the family unrecognizable in this book, but she chose to exploit their tragedy. The reason for this escapes me. The book brings dishonor to the memory of a truly remarkable wife, mother, friend, and neighbor. I am left to believe this book was written as a catharsis for the author's own reactions to our neighbor's death, with little concern for the pain its explicit, false, details about this young mother's life, would cause others.

The "real Paisley" was a woman who brought love and joy into and changed the lives of countless others. She perfected "The Art of Saying Goodbye" For that recognition alone, I applaud Ms. Bache.

For reader's in other states, other communities, it will be a book that touches your heart.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very unsettling read Sept. 2 2011
By Holly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I picked up this book on a couple of different occasions but thought I wasn't in the right frame of mind to read it so put it back down to read at a later time. Yesterday was the right time for me and I started it around noon, finishing it this afternoon around 4:00. Once I got started, I didn't want to stop. I read the first 250 pages before bed last night and I am not a fast reader. My mother was diagnosed with cancer at the end of March and my mother-in-law was diagnosed just a couple of weeks ago. While they are both in their 80s and not women still raising families, etc. it did bring the topic home to me about how suddenly your life can be turned upside down.

There is no secret that Paisley is a young, beautiful, happy woman in her late forties who is diagnosed with cancer which is found when she goes to the doctor for a routine procedure for bunions. She seems to have had the perfect life up to this point and everyone around her feels like it must be a cruel joke. The novel revolves around her journey as she deals with the diagnosis as well as four neighbors/friends who support her during this awful time. I do have to say that I thought the product description was a bit misleading - while they have known each other for years, some are friends but not all. Some are more like acquaintances who occasionally get together and primarily share proximity rather than deep friendships. The story begins with Paisley's office visit and progresses from there with flashbacks to previous events which allow the reader to understand her story and the stories of the four women who surround her. How they each deal with her illness, the impact on their own families and relationships are teased apart and explored in a great deal of detail. By the time I finished the last page, I was emotionally rung out.

Deeply moving and highly emotional, this is a novel that could easily make the reader feel manipulated but the author does such a nice job with the material that I didn't feel that way at all. Each of the women are developed and stories shared in such a way as to help the reader understand them and what they do (or don't do) in response to the devastating illness among them. This book doesn't qualify as chick-lit or a beach read for me since the relationships aren't stereotypical, the emotions are too raw, and the ending isn't necessarily happy. A GREAT book for discussion with people you are close to and can have that kind of deep conversation with. Bottom line: Recommended but be ready to be emotionally drained by the end.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not worth your time July 4 2012
By Sheri S. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The description of this book is misleading because I don't think any of the characters go through a "magnificent transformation". The supposed friends of Paisley are all very unlikeable, especially with regards to the way they treat each other and their children. Ultimately I just couldn't relate to the dynamics of the relationships.

Given that this book is based on reality, I'm also a little shocked that the main character, who has passed away in real life, could be portrayed in such a way. There are instances of her performing illegal and unethical acts which would be hurtful to me if that person were someone I actually knew and cared about.

The writing itself was nicely done in parts and I understand the tone the author tried to set but this book was hard to get through and one I can't recommend.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing July 5 2011
By Holly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Sometimes I hit a wave of books that I just don't connect with. Perhaps it's me and the circumstances of my life at the time, perhaps it's the books. The Art of Saying Goodbye was another disappointment to me.

I normally enjoy books that explore the friendships of women. I thought the author did a good job capturing some of the intricacies and feelings of each of these women as Paisley's cancer diagnosis causes them to evaluate their lives and relationships. The book's point of view/narration moves from woman to woman, alternating with Paisley's first-person narrative. And, unfortunately, I was never able to connect with any of them and found the whole thing rather shallow. I never felt that there was a true bond of friendship between them. With an exception or two, they all seemed more like acquaintances who happened to live in the same neighborhood and while they genuinely cared about each other they were not true bosom girlfriends.

This is one novel, however, that I can book clubs enjoying. Some readers will want to know that there is incidental profanity and sex.
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