'Very Fine and Moving Reads'

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER

This week, I received such a wonderful review of all three Bibliophiles books, I just had to share. My thanks to Beverly George for her kind words.






I’ve read the trilogy of books written by Karen Wojcik Berner, and I so enjoyed the women I met in her book club, the Bibliophiles, that I’ve bought her Christmas story, "A Bibliophile Christmas," as well, but I’m saving it for the day after Thanksgiving.

I’ve read my share of books about the relationships between female characters and their ties with their families, their friends, their jobs, their aspirations, and their self-realization. However, I found the women I met in Berner’s book club as more real, more like my own friends, because in “real life,” the endings aren’t always resolved the way we anticipate or hope for. Instead, we change or are changed, we resolve and adapt, we reset our goals, and happily or not, we move on. That’s the formula that makes Berner’s books very fine and moving reads.

Book one, A Whisper to a Scream, introduces us to Sarah and Annie who eventually meet at a book club in Naperville. Sarah is a married homemaker with children, and her husband Tom spends too many long hours at work in the city. Sarah longs for fulfillment and adult contact beyond her beloved children and outside her suburban home.

Annie, on the other hand, has worked herself to an executive position in a public relations firm, but she aches to start a family with her husband, John. Together, they make every effort to conceive a child through modern medical advances, but the focus and effort bring stress and fear of failure to their marriage.

Edwina Hipplewhite’s Classics Book Club is where they meet. Their stories take off and friendships evolve as their lives unfold, against the backdrop of the book club meetings and the literature they read and discuss.

In Berner’s second book, Until My Soul Gets It Right, the book club character, Catherine Elbert, shares her story with the reader. Catherine grew up in very small town Burkesville, Wisconsin, where her dream to be more than a farm girl was discouraged, even thwarted by her parents. Feeling she has no control over her future, Catherine eventually runs away to Maine. Her self-discovery isn’t always smooth or painless, and Catherine disappoints her new friends there. How she makes her way to Naperville and the Bibliophiles is her personal story and makes for a very satisfying read.

Book Three, A Groovy Kind of Love, was my personal favorite. It is a touching love story of shy, retiring Thaddeus finding deep strength in his love for Spring Pearson, whose parents own a local juice and coffee bar. Their love takes a detour, altering the outcome the characters and the reader had anticipated. The Bibliophiles take on the role of true friends, and the reader cheers them on as they deliver support to the couple we care so much about.

Lastly, full disclosure—I like Berner’s books because they take place in Naperville, Illinois, where I’ve lived for thirty-seven years. To people who know it, the city also becomes a warm character in her books.

The holiday season is just a few weeks away, and I’m looking forward to "A Bibliophile Christmas" as much as the welcome scent of sugar and cinnamon in my home.

Beverly George
Naperville, IL

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