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Home Safe: A Novel [Deckle Edge] [Hardcover]

Elizabeth Berg
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 28 2009
In this new 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 loss and grief, unable to do the work that has always sustained her–is beginning to depend far too much on her twenty-seven-year-old daughter, Tessa, and is meddling in her life, offering unsolicited and unwelcome advice. Helen’s problems are compounded by her shocking discovery that her mild-mannered and loyal husband was apparently leading a double life. The Ameses had painstakingly saved for a happy retirement, but that money disappeared in several large withdrawals made by Helen’s husband before he died. In order to support herself and garner a measure of much needed independence, Helen takes an unusual job that ends up offering far more than she had anticipated. And then a phone call from a stranger sets Helen on a surprising path of discovery that causes both mother and daughter to reassess what they thought they knew about each other, themselves, and what really makes a home and a family.

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Review

“Berg is a tender and enchanting storyteller who wisely celebrates the simple, sustaining elements of life… A keen and funny observer, she is the poet of kindness…This [is] an insightful, graceful, and romantic novel.”—Booklist

“Berg gracefully renders, in tragic and comic detail, the notions that every life–however blessed–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

“A charming read.”—People

“Some of the best fiction plants us in someone else's life and forces us to keep turning the pages no matter how minute the details. Elizabeth Berg, who is expert at that technique, has produced one of her most honest and intimate novels with Home Safe.''—Boston Globe

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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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars confused 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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3.0 out of 5 stars Lovely writer...sub-lovely novel March 13 2010
By Schmadrian TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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 well...so 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  115 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Grinding my Teeth Oct. 13 2009
By Eager Reader - Published on Amazon.com
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!
46 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect celebration of writing April 28 2009
By Phylora - Published on Amazon.com
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.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grief is individual May 5 2009
By C. G. King - Published on Amazon.com
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Berg has other wonderful books, this isn't one of them. June 4 2009
By Stacie Leigh - Published on Amazon.com
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. :)
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book is really awful Sept. 11 2009
By Babe Ruth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I love Elizabeth Berg, and have read many of her books, but this book really strained credulity. What 50-something woman who has worked all her life would not be outraged to find that her deceased husband has made a sweeping, unilateral decision about her future without her help or input? And not only that - but he was totally uninvolved in carrying through the details of the decision, but left it all to a stranger! I don't want to put any spoilers into this review, but a good marriage is a partnership, and this is nothing more than a betrayal! The financial aspects of this story and its ending make absolutely no sense either. Also, look for a bunch of stock characters - I felt like her students were straight out of Mayberry. Look to another Elizabeth Berg book for a much better read.
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