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Home Safe: A Novel Paperback – Sep 29 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (Sept. 29 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345487559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345487551
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #605,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“It’s easy to understand why Elizabeth Berg is a beloved, best-selling writer.”—Chicago Sun-Times

“Simple, beautiful, and ever so real . . . one of [Elizabeth Berg’s] most honest and intimate novels.”—Boston Globe

Home Safe explores, with insight and humor, what it’s like to lose everything and to emerge from the other side.”—St. Petersburg Times

“[Elizabeth] Berg gracefully renders . . . the notions that every life . . . has its share of awful loss, and that even crushed, defeated hearts can be revived.”—Publishers Weekly

“[Berg’s] warmth, humor, and forgiving eye for human nature, mixing wry observation with heartwarming moments, make this a pleasant read.”—Library Journal

About the Author

Elizabeth Berg is the author of many bestselling novels as well as two works of nonfiction. Open House was an Oprah’s Book Club selection, Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year, and Talk Before Sleep was short-listed for an Abby Award. Her bestsellers also include The Year of Pleasures, The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted, and Dream When You’re Feeling Blue. Berg has been honored by both the Boston Public Library and the Chicago Public Library and is a popular speaker at various venues around the country. She lives near Chicago.

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By Carole P. Roman TOP 500 REVIEWER on Feb. 14 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Loss makes Helen Ames start writing as a child, and loss of her husband makes her stop. This is a book about a midlife crisis, the pain of having the comfort of routines shift seismically, sending a person so off kilter, the simplest tasks become impossible. Helen Ames is a successful author, who's creativity is stalled when her husband dies suddenly. Helen "lived in the marriage more than she lived inside herself. For her to lose Dan- especially so suddenly-was to step off a cliff where the falling seemed never to stop." Helen has fallen into the rabbit hole of despair. Grief robs her of her abilities and leaves her testing the mother- daughter relationship, picking at it like a scab until they both bleed. She simply can't control herself. She realizes that her marriage defined her, and even though she was a prolific writer, there is no self, she is rudderless without the anchor of her husband. "whereas she used to be a whole and happy woman, now she is many pieces of a battered self, slung together in a sack of skin."

Berg gets the devastation of the loss of one's partner. The realization of the codependency, the crippling lassitude that Helen feels. BUT, I did not like Helen, Tessa, or even, Midge. While the beginning of the book delved into the gut wrenching loss of Helen's life partner, it sank into banality, rushing from shallow scene to scene, losing the impact of the captivating introduction. I kept waiting for the ah ha moment, the reveal of who Dan was, yet, the book's characters remained hidden by Helen's whining. She roared with emotion out of the gate, but lost both steam and my interest as the story progressed. I would have loved to feel some triumph for Helen, but could only feel relieved when the story ended. I love Elizabeth Berg's storytelling.
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Format: Hardcover
This is definitely 'genre fiction'.

Call it 'chick-lit' if you will...although it seems more aimed at the mother of the usual chick-lit reader.

Ms Berg's writing style has a very approachable way about it. It's casual, unpretentious, she doesn't 'dress things up'...and yet there is no question about her writing abilities: she's an accomplished writer who not only wants to say something, but has something to say that's worth listening to. But in this novel (the third of hers I've read), she seems not to have been pushed at all...and therefore delivers something not so much 'flabby' as...well, 'flaccid'.

I was half-way through and I still hadn't really gotten what the thrust of the story was. It was as if she was noodling...without actually accomplishing much. The entire novel felt 'foggy'. As if it was a riff on an idea...and because she never had any great aspirations for it, the result showed these lack of aspirations. (The book really doesn't breathe I'm very much using 'aspirations' in two ways.) In fact, if I didn't have the respect I do for Ms Berg's talents, and if I didn't get as much out of 'Home Safe' as I did, I'd probably lambaste this effort with terms like 'half-baked'.

As it is, the novel's merits aren't sufficient for me to encourage anyone to read it. For some, it might still satisfy. Those will more than likely be die-hard Berg fans. For everyone else, forewarned is forearmed.

Personal rating: 6.5/10
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By Carolyne Aarsen on May 4 2010
Format: Paperback
I love Elizabeth Berg's writing and have all of her books. This was the first book that I didn't finish. Again, amazing writing, wonderful insights into behaviour and characters and a fresh way of saying the same old, but I just wasn't sure what the point of this book was. I found it meandered and I guess that's okay too. But I couldn't finish it which was disappointing because I was looking forward to total immersion, which is what usually happens with me and an Elizabeth Berg book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 128 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Grinding my Teeth Oct. 13 2009
By Eager Reader - Published on
Format: Paperback
I am more than half way through this book and not sure I will finish. I can tell you, as a former teacher, I've worked with 10 year olds with more common sense than Helen. I have read a few of the authors other books and while she's not one of my "must read" authors, I have enjoyed some of her other work. Helen's relationship with her daughter makes me wonder why Tessa isn't applying for jobs in Mozambique. Helen is so pathetically inept that she strains credibility. Just about the time you begin to wonder if she can brush her teeth without directions, she ADMITS she often doesn't!
47 of 59 people found the following review helpful
A perfect celebration of writing April 28 2009
By Phylora - Published on
Format: Hardcover
After finishing Home Safe, I sat for the longest time looking out the window thinking about books and writing and stories and how lucky we are to have someone like Berg who is such a beautiful and insightful writer, a writer who, as her character Helen says, wants to "make a family of the world." I am sure having Berg's ability to go under the skin, to feel things as deeply as she does, cannot always be easy. But she always manages to find the beauty. I loved this book which is a celebration of the art of writing as well as a great story. The ending is one of the most perfect endings I have ever read. It's stunning.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
A disappointing read from a favorite author May 16 2009
By anniesgran - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I was looking forward to reading Elizabeth Berg's latest novel, but if I had not known that it was written by her, I would have thought the author was someone far less talented. What I found curious was that, in the novel, the writings of her students (which, of course, she wrote) were actually more interesting than her own writing. The plot was predictable and boring -- a crazy best friend, a husband who built her a dream home before he died, and a handsome widower (an architect, no less) who is in love with her -- I thought I was reading a paperback romance novel.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Grief is individual May 5 2009
By C. G. King - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The grieving process is different for each of us and this story helps the reader understand both inside and outside pressures. If you've been through such a thing, it's cathartic to know others struggle just as you have; if you haven't, hopefully Ms Berg's engaging approach will give you insight you may not have had before. As with Ms Berg's other books, the writing here is exemplary. The characters come alive under her pen. They are invariably flawed people that are three dimensional and realistic.

In this story, we are given a window into how the death of a spouse upon whom one depends--perhaps too much--can completely disorient one to the point where behavior appears odd even many months later. The world seems to have a time limit to its sensitivity and support, the griever has no such limits.

My only criticism here is that while the central characters were realistic, I didn't like them very much and for me that detracted from my enjoyment of the story. While I sympathized with Helen's plight, it was from afar, but perhaps there was a message there too.
32 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Berg has other wonderful books, this isn't one of them. June 4 2009
By Stacie Leigh - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I turned a colleague on to Elizabeth Berg when I recommended The Year of Pleasures" to her, my favorite Berg book. My colleague was so happy that she bought this title opening day, read and lent it to me.

As so many others, I had 'reader high hopes' - the curse of a past-excellence creating author, I'm sure. This book was as if the editor kept calling to make some money off her and this is what she came up with.

Main character Helen is irritating, and I would not even want to be her friend - I have never said that about any other work from Elizabeth Berg - I've raved. The one point I appreciated was Helen coming to the realization that her dead husband was NOT a perfect mate. So often, after the death of a loved one, we put them on a pedestal during the mourning, and that is normal, but true healing does not happen until we can acknowledge their flaws without feeling guilty about it.

'Home Safe' does not have the open-door, come on in warm feeling of most other Elizabeth Berg books. I should have read The Year of Pleasures again instead. :)