Night of Miracles (Berg)

Night of Miracles 
Elizabeth Berg, 2018
Random House
288 pp.
ISBN-13:
9780525509509


Summary
A delightful novel of friendship, community, and the way small acts of kindness can change your life, by the bestselling author of The Story of Arthur Truluv
 
Lucille Howard is getting on in years, but she stays busy.

Thanks to the inspiration of her dearly departed friend Arthur Truluv, she has begun to teach baking classes, sharing the secrets to her delicious classic Southern yellow cake, the perfect pinwheel cookies, and other sweet essentials.

Her classes have become so popular that she’s hired Iris, a new resident of Mason, Missouri, as an assistant. Iris doesn’t know how to bake but she needs to keep her mind off a big decision she sorely regrets.

When a new family moves in next door and tragedy strikes, Lucille begins to look out for Lincoln, their son. Lincoln’s parents aren’t the only ones in town facing hard choices and uncertain futures.

In these difficult times, the residents of Mason come together and find the true power of community—just when they need it the most.

“Elizabeth Berg’s characters jump right off the page and into your heart” said Fannie Flagg about The Story of Arthur Truluv. The same could be said about Night of Miracles, a heartwarming novel that reminds us that the people we come to love are often the ones we don’t expect. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—December 2, 1948
Where—St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Education—A.A.S, St. Mary’s College
Awards—(see below)
Currently—lives in Chicago, Illinois


Before she became a writer, Elizabeth Berg spent 10 years as a nurse. It's a field, as she says on her website, that helped her to become a writer:

Taking care of patients taught me a lot about human nature, about hope and fear and love and loss and regret and triumph and especially about relationships—all things that I tend to focus on in my work.

Her sensitivity to humanity is what Berg's writing is noted for. As Publishers Weekly wrote in reviewing The Dream Lover, her 2015 portrayal of George Sand, "Berg offers vivid, sensual detail and a sensitive portrayal of the yearning and vulnerability" behind her main character.

Background
Berg was born in St. Paul Minneapolis. When her father re-enlisted in the Army, she and her family were moved from base to base—in one single year, she went to three different schools. Her peripatetic childhood makes it hard for Berg to answer the usually simple question, "where did you grow up?"

Berg recalls that she loved to write at a young age. She was only nine when she submitted her first poem to American Girl magazine; sadly, it was rejected. It was another 25 years before she submitted anything again—to Parents Magazine—and that time she won.

In addition to nursing, Berg worked as a waitress, another field she claims is "good training for a writer." She also sang in a rock band.

Writing
Berg ended up writing for magazines for 10 years before she finally turned to novels. Since her 1993 debut with Durable Goods, her books have sold in large numbers and been translated into 27 languages. She writes nearly a book a year, a number of which have received awards and honors.

Recognition
Two of Berg's books, Durable Goods and Joy School, were listed as "Best Books of the Year" by the American Library Association. Open House became an Oprah Book Club Selection.

She won the New England Booksellers Award for her body of work, and Boston Public Library made her a "literary light." She has also been honored by the Chicago Public Library. An article on a cooking school in Italy, for National Geographic Traveler magazine, won an award from the North American Travel Journalists Association.

Personal
Now divorced, Berg was married for over twenty years and has two daughters and three grandchildren. She lives with her dogs and a cat in Chicago. (Author bio adapted from the author's website.)



Book Reviews
Mason, Mo., is the enchanting setting for a series of small but life-changing events in Berg’s winning novel (following The Story of Arthur Truluv).… [T]he story moves along at a comfortable pace to a fitting, albeit easy, ending.
Publishers Weekly


Fans of Meg Wolitzer, Emma Straub, or Berg’s previous novels will appreciate the richly complex characters and clear prose. Redemptive without being maudlin, this story of two misfits lucky to have found one another will tug at readers’ heartstrings.
Booklist


Berg's sequel to The Story of Arthur Truluv (2017)…. We long for more substance as Berg touches on, but does not really engage, topics like aging, mortality, and America's obsession with appearance.…Psychological realism sacrificed on the altar of niceness.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
1. What is your idea of a miracle? How do you think the inhabitants of Mason would each answer that question?

2. The author has said that she had specific individuals in mind when she wrote the visitation scenes. Who do you think was Lucille’s angel? Who do you think visited Abby in the hospital?

3. Do you think the small-town charms so prevalent in the Mason, Missouri, books exist in the real world? Have you ever seen the evidence? Would you like to live in a small town like Mason? Why or why not?

4. What do you think of Lucille’s baking classes? What do people learn at Lucille’s classes besides baking tips?

5. Which recipe of Lucille’s would you most like to sample?

6. Night of Miracles, like The Story of Arthur Truluv, features friendships between characters of different ages and backgrounds at the heart of the story. What do Lucille and Lincoln teach each other? What do Lucille and Iris teach each other? How do they help each other?

7. How is Tiny changed by his relationship with Iris? What does he need to learn about himself before accepting himself in a relationship?

8. Who was your favorite character in the book? Why?

9. In your opinion, what is the greatest friendship or love story in Night of Miracles?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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