Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Home Safe - Elizabeth Berg

Summary:  In this stunning novel, beloved bestselling author Elizabeth Berg weaves a beautifully written and richly resonant story of a mother and daughter in emotional transit.  Helen Ames -- recently widowed, coping with grief, unable to do the work that has always sustained her -- is beginning to depend too much on her twenty-seven-year-old daughter, Tessa, meddling in her life and offering unsolicited advice.  Then Helen is shocked to discover that her mild-mannered and seemingly loyal husband was apparently  leading a double life.  When a phone call from a stranger sets Helen on a surprising path of discovery, both mother and daughter reassess what they thought they knew about each other, themselves, and what really makes a home and a family.  (Summary from book - Image scanned)

My Review:  Fear not!  Regardless of what you might infer from the above (aptly written) summary, this is not another book about a woman  who finds out her recently deceased husband was cheating on her.  Thank heavens!  That particular story, like vampire novels, is exceedingly overdone. 

Elizabeth Berg is one of my favorite authors. Long before I began this blog, I had read (and loved) several of her novels, including The Year of Pleasures, Never Change, Ordinary Lives, The Pull of the Moon, and Open House. Her books are an exploration of emotion – of life, love, and loss as seen through the eyes of a variety of women. They move slowly and sometimes make me cry, but they feel so real that I can’t stop reading. Normally, I avoid sad books because I over identify with the characters (translation: they make me depressed), but Elizabeth Berg always manages to write heartache and loss in a way that feels uplifting, genuine, and cathartic.

Home Safe is a brilliantly rendered, tender, and insightful story about love, grief, regret, and the sometimes tenuous bond between mothers and daughters.  Helen’s heartache at the loss of her husband was painful to read, but I loved being able to watch her work through it. Helen’s transparent attempts to interfere in her daughter’s life, and Tessa’s subsequent exasperation with her, felt incredibly authentic and thoroughly relatable. When Helen attempts to cure her writer’s block by teaching a writing class to an eccentric group of aspiring authors, I fell even deeper into the story. I loved the additional dimension that these characters brought to the story, and I only wish I could have heard more of “their” writing.

Home Safe had a certain stillness about it and I finished it with a calm and contented sigh. If you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller, look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for a story you can sink into and really experience, then pick up something by Elizabeth Berg.

Click here to visit Elizabeth Berg's website and see a list of her books (I haven't read them all!).

My Rating: 4.25 Stars

For the sensitive reader: A handful of F-words, uttered by one of her more colorful writing students and one mild conversation about sex.

Sum it up: A beautifully emotional story about a woman learning to let go and take control of her own life.


~Enamored Soul~ said...


Thank you SO much for this insightful review! I saw this book, and the title/book cover completely drew me in. But by the synopsis, I was afraid that it would be the typical "deceased-husband-leads-a-double-life" scenario, so never placed it on my TBR list. But your review totally changed my mind. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us! :)

GFC Follower: ~Enamored Soul~
Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com
Twitter: @inluvwithbookz

Jillian said...

Oohh this sounds fascinating. Like the perfect read for a rainy day or something. I don't know why I feel that for some reason haha


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