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Open House [Audio CD]

Elizabeth Berg
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (276 customer reviews)
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Audio, CD, Dec 1 2000 CDN $32.40  

Book Description

Dec 1 2000 Oprah's Book Club
An Oprah's Book Club selection

Samantha Morrow's husband has left her, and after a spree of overcharging at Tiffany's, she settles down to reconstruct a life for herself and her 11-year-old son. Her eccentric mother tried to help by fixing her up with dates, but a more pressing problem is money.

To meet her mortgage payments, Sam decides to take in boarders. The first is an older woman who offers sage advice and sorely needed comfort; the second, a maladjusted student, is not quite so helpful. A new friend, King, an untraditional man, suggests that Samantha get out, get going, get work. But her real work is this: In order to emerge from grief and the past, she has to learn how to make her own happiness. In order to really see people, she has to look within her heart. And in order to know who she is, she has to remember--and reclaim--the person she used to be, long before she became someone else in an effort to save her marriage.

Deeply felt, beautifully observed, and written with perfect emotional pitch, Open House is the unforgettable story of how a woman re-creates her life after divorce by opening her house to strangers and her heart to the simple miracle of possibility.
--This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.

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From Amazon

Oprah Book Club® Selection, August 2000: The narrator of Elizabeth Berg's Open House calls divorce "a series of internal earthquakes ... one after the other." She ought to know. Samantha is abandoned by her husband in the opening pages of this three-handkerchief special, and the resultant tremors keep her off-balance for most of the novel. There are practical problems aplenty, of course, including a shortage of money and an 11-year-old son to raise. But Sam's sense of emotional bereavement is far worse, despite the fact that her husband had been giving her the conjugal cold shoulder for years:
I miss David so much, yes I do, I miss the presence of another person in my bed at night, even if he doesn't touch me; the reliability of someone else being there in the morning, even if they only shave and stare straight ahead into the mirror while you lean against the bathroom doorjamb with your cup of coffee, chatting hopefully.
The loneliness in her "as constant and as irrefutable" as circulating blood, Sam begins to rebuild her life. She finds herself a job and takes in a couple of boarders to help meet her mortgage payments. (One of them, a depressed student named Lavender Blue, informs her that "life was nothing but one major disappointment after the other"--the sort of homily that Sam is understandably reluctant to hear these days.) She also starts dating, with disastrous results. Yet this comically kvetching heroine does manage to find love in the ruins, and by the time Open House winds down, it's hard not to believe that she's much better off. Throughout, Berg alternates her snappy and sappy registers like a real pro. And the conclusion, which most readers will be able to spot a mile off, seems just right--the light at the end of the post-matrimonial tunnel. --Anita Urquhart --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Praise for Durable Goods
"A little gem of a book."—Richard Bausch

Praise for Talk Before Sleep
"Elizabeth Berg is one of those rare souls who can play with truths as if swinging across the void from one trapeze to another."
—Joan Gould

Praise for The Pull of the Moon
"It is wise and witty, thoughtful and exhilarating. It leaves the reader observing life with greater hope and satisfaction."
—Jill McCorkle

Praise for What We Keep
"Berg knows the hearts of her characters intimately, showing them with compassion, humor, and an illuminating generosity."
—The Seattle Times

Praise for Range of Motion
"Berg's brilliant insights about the human condition, plus her capacity for turning the ordinary into richly detailed prose, make this book the love story of the year."
—Detroit Free Press --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Barely there May 10 2007
The author's skillful use of the language (some of the metaphors read like borderline poetry) hardly compensates for the clumsy plot (or the lack of it). Some scenes are totally unnecessary (like Sam's attempt to seduce her husband to regain his affection).

The not-so-subtle overriding theme of overcoming personal insecurities by learning to love your cellulite is hardly new, and, frankly, becoming a bit annoying.

Had this book been any longer, it would be seriously irritating.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Would give it zero stars if I could July 5 2004
This book was horrible. I couldn't finish reading it, which is saying a lot because I hate to waste my hard earned money on a book that I can't read. I can't believe this was an Oprah choice. Not that I read books or do anything else because Oprah suggests it. I read another one of her book choices and found it to be an entertaining read. But not this one.
The characters in this book seemed shallow. Sam seemed to be more of a ditz than a woman crushed by an estranged husband. The son seemed very immature for his age. Maybe this was just from the way he was written.
OK, I can't say much more because I didn't read the whole book. I will say I tried though, it just wasn't worth my time. The only reason I'm writing the review is to advise others to not even waste their time on this poorly written book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Just OK June 11 2004
By Joleen
Expected more from this book than what I got. It's a quick read, and Berg's style is brilliant, but the storyline leaves something to be desired.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A 4.5 June 2 2004
By dicey23
I really enjoyed this book. It was my first Elizabeth Berg book that I read. I loved the flow of the book and the characters and the plot. This book was well written and kept my interest.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Take a Pass if you want...anything May 27 2004
By A Customer
Slow...kept waiting for something to happen and it never did. The end should ahve been in the middle and a whole other ending created. Likable characters keep you reading, but worth a pass. Read with a book club - average rating for 6 people was 2.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Open House April 28 2004
By A.E.B.
"Open House" is a delightful summer read. It approaches the devastating, sudden abandonment of a spouse with heartfelt sympathy and courage. Sam is a strong, well-developed character, who Ms. Berg depicts in a way that you will root for throughout her ordeal. The other characters add depth and colorful dialog to the story. The book is humorous and serious at the same time. Well done.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Spouse Walked Out April 26 2004
By A Customer
The most recent book I read was Open House by Elizabeth Berg.
The story was about forty-two year old Samantha Morrow. After twenty years of marriage her husband, David, walked out on her and their 11-year-old son, Travis. In order to keep living in her house, Samantha, had to take in boarders to make the mortgage payments.
The best part about Samantha, was that Berg didn't make the character feel sorry for herself. In my eyes, the character of Samantha seemed like a strong woman determined to make it on her own.
This is the type of book recommended for someone going through a marriage separation.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Bit Too Tidy April 7 2004
By Allyn
In this story about middle-aged Samantha Morrow's coping with divorce, Elizabeth Berg definitely shows evidence of her literary strengths. In "Open House," Berg has once again created a realistic main character whose story is easily readable. Also, she has retained the asset of using "light" and almost simple writing to convey wisdom and insight. And I've got to say it-"Open House" had a way of being just naturally charming and funny.
But somehow, when you thought about it, the story of Samantha's dealings with and recovery from her divorce seemed to be a little too cutesy and perfect. First of all, it appeared that the novel took place over about half a year. Sam's sadness, rage, and erractic behavior in the novel's beginning were VERY realistic emotions for a divorced woman to experience. But honestly, by the end of the novel, it seemed like Sam was just totally fine and thought life was charming and every minute of it was worth living. Put simply, you just can't recover from divorce that fast.
And what about Sam's method of employment-taking a different menial job each day? Um, hello. First of all, it made Sam look lazy and stupid-wouldn't she want to establish a decent, permanent career? And although she took in "roomates" as well to make money, couldn't she have used a little more than $5.15 an hour on a day job?
Finally, the love story of sorts between Sam and King was hard to swallow. King supposedly has a degree from MIT yet, like Sam, picks a different minimum-wage job every day. The reason? To be able to enjoy life and have variety in each day. I don't know about you, but that sort of characterization/reasoning just makes me want to roll my eyes.
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