The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier – Readalong, Week 1

Wow, that is a long title. If you got to the end of it, you’ll see that I have joined another readalong. This is being hosted by All The Books I Can Read (whose reading pace makes me green with envy! I wish I could read as many books!). The book we are ‘reading along’ with is The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier, which was kindly supplied by the lovely people at Allen & Unwin (a cocky as a logo – they’re after my own feathered heart)! This week we are discussing Chapters One to Eleven (page 1 through to 136 in my copy).

Once I opened this book, I already knew that something bad had happened to this Elizabeth D – why else would she leave her journals unfinished? The beautiful cover of the book (a picnic basket left on a bench on a verandah) was also slightly ominous. (Off topic, this is one of the most beautifully designed books I’ve read for some time – beautiful embossed swirls, lovely fold out covers with the blurb and author information. Well done Lisa White for the cover design!) The book opens talking about someone called Kate, her husband Chris and her two children, James and Piper. It delves into Kate and her family’s life straightaway and we need to work out how these people relate to the mysterious Elizabeth D. We find out quite quickly that Elizabeth D is dead (in a plane crash in New York, shortly before 9/11) and Kate and family are en route to her widower’s house to pick up her journals.

This opened up numerous questions for me. Why a plane crash that was soon overshadowed by the events of September 11, 2001? Is that symbolic of Elizabeth’s life – to be overshadowed? Why is Kate, Elizabeth’s friend to have the journals and not her husband or children at a later date?

Kate and Chris are on their way to an island, where Chris is working from home and Kate reads the journals. The narrative becomes entwined between Kate’s life and Elizabeth’s past. Questions are asked about what is the ‘proper’ role as a mother (work, don’t work) and how to deal with grief.

The book took me a little while to get into, as I needed to get the characters straight in my head and who fit in where. As I read more, I enjoyed the relaxed pace of Kate’s days on the island and reading about the Elizabeth the readers don’t know, but the other characters find…well, out of character.

I must admit that I haven’t put the book down to wait for next week – I’ve continued reading because I can’t wait to read more about Elizabeth.

3 thoughts on “The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier – Readalong, Week 1

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  1. I find the randomness to be a very interesting point noting how Kate is kinda obsessed about violence / safety – that Elizabeth chose to catch a later flight for a sleep-in (if she caught an earlier flight, she might’ve been ok) or if she flew later say on 11 Sept, etc… The book, so far, is filled with what might’ve been if you’d done something else (I can think of another instance when Elizabeth wrote about that New York jogger), reminded me of the movie, Sliding Doors.

  2. No time for me to join, as school began this week, but I do own a copy. I’m so glad to know that you can’t put it down, now. Looking forward to more of your thoughts, which I’ll read lightly until I finish it myself. Plus, I have the wonderful Japanese novel you sent me which I’m saving as a special treat.

I enjoy reading your comments! Thanks for stopping by.

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