I accidentally read two books about recent widows within a week. Although I enjoyed both of them, there was quite a contrast.
I'd give P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern an A. (By the way, she's the daughter of the Prime Minister of Ireland, and there was quite a bit of contraversy when her book came out, saying it was only published because of her father.) Ahern's book is fun and sassy, despite the fact that 30 year old Holly is a recent widow. She is mired in sorrow until she finds an envelope her husband left her. In it, he leaves her one envelope to be opened each month until the end of the year. Each message tells her something to do to get on with her life - buy an outfit, sing Karaoke, get a job. Holly has setbacks, but she has a supportive group of friends and family who help her through the difficult times. Holly is not a mature woman - she still parties and drinks heavily at 30, which is why the book itself is not as mature as The Year of Pleasures.
The Year of Pleasures is Elizabeth Berg's beautiful book about a fifty-year-old woman who lost her husband to cancer. Betta Nolan goes against the common advice, and sells her house in Boston and starts driving toward the Midwest because she and her husband wanted to start over somewhere in a small town. In Stewart, Illinois, she finds a house she likes and people she can befriend such as the widowed realtor, the young boy next door, and a couple college students. She still misses something, so she reaches out to her three college roommates who swoop in to support her. As in P.S. I Love You, the widow's husband has left her notes. In Betta's case, she has to puzzle out that the notes are indicating she should continue to find the beauty in life. Perhaps it's a pat solution, but even so, I loved Betta's early ideas for a shop, called What a Woman Wants, which features artwork and linens and stationery and ribbons, and other delicate items. The shop allows Betta to surround herself with friends and other women, and shared beauty. Definitely one of my favorites for the year so far, based on Berg's writing and Betta's own search for happiness in life.