Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Home Safe: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 28, 2009
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
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 And then Helen discovers Dan had withdrawn a huge chunk of their retirement money, and Helen's quest to find out what happened turns into a journey of self-discovery and hard-won healing.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.
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
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
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. Usually she connects with the reader in a personal and all encompassing way. She has a wonderful ability to capture and describe middle age, insecurity, divisions that make us male or female, old and young in a profound and realistic way. Open House and Range of Motion are much better examples of her terrific writing.
This story is about a widowed writer named Helen who has had writer's block since losing her husband a year before. She calls on her adult daughter to help her with the smallest of repairs around the house and dotes on the girl, who is longing for her independence.
I was intrigued into reading this book for two reasons: I thought it would be interesting to follow a middle-aged woman seeking fulfillment and an income in an ordinary job (Helen applies for retail work at the book's start), and I was equally intrigued by the come-on stating that a mystery arises when Helen discovers that her husband had withdrawn a large sum of money from their savings (around $800,000). But Helen's step into earning a paycheck from something other than writing--an aspect I thought her readers who are not writers could relate to--fizzles early on. And the so-called "shocking discovery" (as the book jacket states) is solved early in the novel and isn't all that intriguing after all. I was expecting a double life to be revealed, but the mystery is more lifeless than not.
I found the people in this novel to be flat, rather predictable textbook characters (the inept widow who'd never had to so much as balance a checkbook before her husband died; the supportive, wise-cracking best friend; the overbearing mother). I kept reading, however, because Berg has a way of making the reading effortless.
I'm guessing that Berg drew from her own life when writing this book (I noticed that the name of her real-life editor, who is mentioned in the acknowledgments, is the same as the editor in the story, only the letters are mixed up). But, Stephen King's work aside (Misery; Secret Window, Secret Garden), writers tend not to be interesting characters.
I will always be a Berg fan, and am looking forward to more gems from her, in the likes of The Pull of the Moon, Joy School, Talk Before Sleep, and Range of Motion. Unfortunately, Home Safe doesn't fit in this category.