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Home Safe: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 28, 2009

3.2 out of 5 stars 130 customer reviews

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Deliver Her: A Novel
The mother of a grieving teenager makes a decision that may shatter their family forever. Learn More

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 And then Helen discovers Dan had withdrawn a huge chunk of their retirement money, and Helen's quest to find out what happened turns into a journey of self-discovery and hard-won healing.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
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (April 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400065119
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400065110
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #758,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback
I usually enjoy Elizabeth Berg's writing but this novel was so unrealistic that I can only believe that Ms. Berg must identify with her main character, Helen, who is depicted as incompetent to lead any semblance of a normal life. If Ms. Berg were a 20-year old and had no life experience, I could understand the glaring problems. So I have to wonder if Ms. Berg has never dealt with settling an estate or any of life's thorny little daily issues of maintenance of a house, finances, and all of Helen's other areas of ignorance and total helplessness.
We are led to believe that, one year after the death of her husband, Helen becomes aware, despite great resistance to facing a financial situation, that she is suddenly much poorer due to a unilateral decision of her husband. This makes no sense because there is no way that the will or trust was not either probated or otherwise dealt with, taxes paid, papers signed, and all these financial conundrums and decisions brought into the light of day. Even if another person acted as executor, Helen could not possibly be so completely surprised a year after the death.
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