It’s a dark world at times and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg feels compelled to make it just a little nicer through her novels. In her latest, Night of Miracles (Random House 2018; $26) she takes us back toMason, Missouri, an imaginary town where kindness reigns and there are happy endings.
“I just needed to create a perfect place in my books since I couldn’t find one on planet Earth or at least a place where,though people have issues, they are nice to each other and treat each other with kindness,” says Berg whose voice on the phone when I call sounds as cheery as her popular books. Night of Miracles is both a stand-alone novel as well as a sequel to her previous novel The Story of Arthur Truluv.
“When I finished that book, I liked being in Mason so much that I felt the need to go back there,” says Berg, who is driven by her imagination to write stories and whose plots often derive from just one brief vision or illusory thought. The character of Arthur developed because of an image she had of an old man sitting on a lawn chair in a cemetery eating lunch by the grave of his wife.
“I wanted to know who this man was and what his life was like,” says Berg. “I felt he had something to teach me and I was right.”
Then it was Lucille’s turn to inspire. A cantankerous character who played a prominent role in The Story of Arthur Truluv, she returns again in Night of Miracles following a glimpse Berg had showing Lucille washing dishes while looking out her kitchen window and seeing stars.Interestingly, Lucille is a stellar baker and while Berg says she doesn’t live up to that standard she does make a mean pie using a crust recipe she garnered a long time ago listening to “The Phil Donahue Show.” As for Mason, she’s returned to it once more, she’s just finishing her third book in the series, The Confession Club. Berg thinks of her writing as inspirational.
“One of the things that I hope formy reader is that if your definition of what a miracle is can expand into ordinary life, you’ll see miracles everywhere,” she says. “When I see a cardinal, I gasp in wonder. It’s not that I want people to turn away from the problems of the world as we have a lot of work to do, but I want them to see a good side of life as well.”
Pausing, she then continues with a slight laugh, saying “call me the schmaltz queen, but these times, for me, call for something like that.”
What: Elizabeth Berg will be doing several reading and signings in the Chicago area:
Thursday, November 29th at 12:00 noon, University Club luncheon, 76 E. Monroe,Chicago, IL . Cost is $25. Call The Book Stall to make a reservation. 847-446-8880.
Thursday, November 29th at 6:30 p.m., Book Stall, 811 Elm Street, Winnetka, IL. 847-446-8880.
Monday, December 3rd at 7 p.m., Frankfort Public Library, 21119 S. Pfeiffer Rd., Frankfort, IL. 815-534-6173.
Wednesday, December 5 at 7 p.m., Women And Children First, 5233 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL. 773-769-9299