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Home Safe: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Elizabeth Berg
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.01 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Elizabeth Berg's Once Upon a Time, There Was You.

In this 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.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Love, work and the absence of both figure prominently in Berg's latest, a rumination on loss and replenishment. Since novelist Helen's husband, Dan, died a year ago, she's been unable to write, and though her publisher and agent aren't worried, she is, particularly after a disastrous performance at a public speaking engagement leaves her wondering if her writing career will be another permanent loss. Meanwhile, daughter Tessa is getting impatient as Helen smothers her with awkward motherly affection. Tessa longs for distance and some independence, but Helen is unable to run her suburban Chicago home without continually calling on Tessa to perform the handyman chores that once belonged to Dan. And then Helen discovers Dan had withdrawn a huge chunk of their retirement money, and Helen's quest to find out what happened turns into a journey of self-discovery and hard-won healing. 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. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Helen Ames is a popular and prolific writer living in Oak Park, Illinois, much like Elizabeth Berg. But Helen has lost her ability to write. Her inner world is as stunned and hushed as her cherished home in the wake of her husband’s sudden death. Dan took care of everything, leaving Helen free to dwell in her imaginary worlds. Now she is bereft and confused. Tessa, her beautiful, patient, funny daughter, a beauty editor at a woman’s magazine, is trying to help, as is Helen’s outspoken best friend, Midge. And at least Helen is financially secure. Or not. Where has her money gone? Did Dan have a secret life? Or was he planning a glorious surprise? Berg is a tender and enchanting storyteller who wisely celebrates the simple, sustaining elements of life, from comfort food to birdsong to a good laugh. A keen and funny observer, she is the poet of kindness. And not only is this an insightful, graceful, and romantic novel of one charmingly contradictory woman’s path through grief, it is also a paean to the profound pleasures and revelations of reading and the adventure and catharsis of writing. Books, Berg affirms in her magical way, are a unifying force for good in the cosmos. --Donna Seaman

Product Details

  • File Size: 952 KB
  • Print Length: 273 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400065119
  • Publisher: Random House (April 28, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0026OR1UA
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,246 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Grinding my Teeth October 13, 2009
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!
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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
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.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grief is individual May 5, 2009
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.
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32 of 40 people found the following review helpful
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. :)
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book is really awful September 11, 2009
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars terrible book and audio worse January 30, 2010
By Robo
Format:Paperback
I have always enjoyed E. Berg but this- why ever published? It is so dull- so slow, and a really dreadful read-.The story line could have been in a 100 page book. It is repetative, as though the author was just desperate to get a book out. But more surprising is the author reads on the audio and she should NEVER EVER do that again. She has the worst slow, whiny,voice. I was stuck in the car on a long drive w/ only this audio book- so had to finish-- . I wonder why in this economy an editor would accept this book-just because she is known author? I won't again till I see Berg as a best seller-for along stint.AND Ms Berg should never ever read on audio books!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing read from a favorite author May 16, 2009
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars HOME SAFE by Elizabeth Berg
I’ve been an avid fan of Elizabeth Berg’s books…up until “Home Safe”, which I was unable to finish. The main characters were vapid and not creditable. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Michael D. Gilmore
3.0 out of 5 stars Did I Say Dreary?
If you can accept my premise that Dan might have been mentally ill when he depleted his and Helen's (his wife) healthy retirement savings by three-quarters and built a house in a... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Haley's Comments
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved it
Published 2 months ago by Linda
5.0 out of 5 stars another excellent novel
I love elizabeth berg. Her writing is clear and simple and true. Reading her work is like having coffee with my best friend. Entertaining, comfortable, easy. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sharon Rainey
3.0 out of 5 stars a let down
I had high hopes for this book but was disappointed all around. The characters were unlikable, to the point of being annoying. Read more
Published 4 months ago by a.hoffman
2.0 out of 5 stars Home Safe
I am a big fan of Elizabeth Berg, but felt that this was not one of her best works. What started out mediocre ended up to be sappy and too predictable, gave mind to some dime store... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Sherry K. Nomura
1.0 out of 5 stars Far-fetched, irritating characters; choose an earlier Berg book...
This book is about a writer who has writer's block. She talks about the very real pressure for popular authors re: reviews, royalties, etc. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Miss Darcy
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
E. Berg has not written a 'bad' novel in all that I have read. She keeps nuggets of wisdom and life mantras in every book.
Published 8 months ago by connie lin
2.0 out of 5 stars Weakness
I am listening to this book on tape and am infuriated by Helen- her weakness, refusal to face realty, her incessant whining and her relationship with her daughter. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Janet Hiser
5.0 out of 5 stars solid, fulfilling read
Helen is a newly widowed writer who has lost the ability to write. In her grief she hovers over her only child obsessively and flounders about. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

Elizabeth Berg won the NEBA Award for fiction for her body of work, and was a finalist for the ABBY for Talk Before Steep. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Ladies' Home Journal, Redbook, and the New York Times Magazine. She has also taught a writing workshop at Radcliffe College. She lives near Boston, Massachusetts.

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