ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WAS YOU Elizabeth Berg
Ballantine
ISBN: 978-1-58836-893-5 (e-Book)
ISBN: 978-0-3455-1732-6 (Trade Paperback)
October 2011
Women's Fiction

St. Paul, Minnesota and San Francisco, California Present Day

John Marsh and Irene married twenty years ago with doubt swirling around them on their wedding day.  The one good thing that came from their marriage is their daughter, Sadie.  Now, at fifty-six, John lives in St. Paul , Minnesota , and Irene lives in San Francisco , California .  Divorced, the only time they see each other is when John visits his daughter twice a year.  They tolerate each other for Sadie's benefit.  John is very close to Sadie and would like to be with her more often.

John buys and renovates old houses, doesn't date often, but is reasonably content, although somewhat lonely.  He relies on his friend for advice and solace, and when his friend advises him to attend a divorce group, John accidentally wanders into the wrong group, one for bereaved spouses.  He meets Amy and is instantly attracted to her.  They begin seeing each other.  Will Amy be angry when he tells her that he is divorced, not bereaved, but stayed in the group anyway?

 Irene is a caterer and meets men by putting unusual and goofy ads in the paper.  She tends to be somewhat unconventional.  She is emotional, has a difficult time maintaining a relationship, and worries about getting old and unattractive.  She is lonely and overly protective of her daughter, but loves her dearly.

Sadie has been secretly dating Ron Savage from her senior high school class.  She tells her parents that she is going rock climbing, but she is really going away for the weekend with Ron.  She doesn't understand why she gets so hot and bothered when they kiss, and he seems to be unaffected.  She is planning to lose her virginity, but something frightening happens to change their plans.

ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WAS YOU is a story about loneliness, growing older and seeing life passing you by.  Sometimes feeling a little desperate and sad, John and Irene would like to find the right person for them.  It is also Sadie's coming of age tale.  The story goes back and forth among the three, and is written in an easy, personal manner.  John and Irene ruminate about the past, the happy times and not so happy times.  One thing John and Irene can always agree on is the love they have for Sadie who is ready to spread her wings.  Readers can expect some laughs and some unhappiness in ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WAS YOU.

Well written and poignant, ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WAS YOU is a good choice for fall reading.

Marilyn Heyman