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Open House Hardcover – Large Print, September 1, 2000
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Touching . . . [A] deft, sweet, and often comic novel."
"THIS NOVEL MAKES FOR PLEASANT READING . . . PATTY MURPHY IS APPEALINGLY VULNERABLE. . . . NOVELIST ELIZABETH BERG HAS AN ENGAGING VOICE AND STYLE."
--Los Angeles Times
"A PERCEPTIVE COMEDY OF MODERN MANNERS . . . At the end of each undemanding day, Patty goes home to an empty apartment and listens to her biological clock ticking as ominously as Captain Hook's crocodile. . . . Patty wants a husband and a baby, and not necessarily in that order. . . . But Patty has a problem. Try as she might, there is only one man she can love--her best friend, Ethan--and try as Ethan might, he is quite firmly and intractably gay. With rueful good humor, Until the Real Thing Comes Along shows how Patty and Ethan come to terms with the impossibility of having it all."
--The Boston Globe
"BERG WRITES WITH HUMOR AND UNDERSTANDING ABOUT MATTERS OF THE HEART. . . . The author's generous view of humanity is evident in her characters, who walk right off the page they are so well and truly drawn."
--St. Louis Post Dispatch
"ENTERTAINING . . . FLAWLESS DIALOGUE . . . READING IT IS LIKE EAVESDROPPING ON AN INTIMATE FEMALE CHAT."
--New York Daily News
"COMPELLING . . . [A] WARMLY TOLD TALE."
--People --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I am glad I stayed with it, however, since our heroine and the author cover some important areas of individual growth -- dealing with divorce, dealing with children following divorce, dealing with family, learning about your own self worth, developing self esteem -- even as an adult, learning about different types of people, and bringing them into your life, etc.
So, it had some value and I'd recommend it to others ...
However, "Open House" also has to be one of the funniest books I have ever read! I never pegged Berg as a humorist, even though there are a lot of ironic moments in her writing. But this book made me laugh so hard I almost peed in my pants. I found the chapter on Thanksgiving especially funny- I laughed for a half an hour, cracking up so hard I was crying. And there is a special treat for martha Stewart fans in the book, as well :).
You have to be a talented writer to mix comedy and heartbreak as well as Berg does. For those worried about this being another woman-as-victim book (man leaves woman after several years of marriage, woman survives shame and loss of identity, finds new love with strapping, younger man who also happens to be her gardener, etc)- fear not. There is not an ounce of that in this book. "Open House" is funny, insightful, and will not leave you putting the book down in disgust.
I really thought Elizabeth Berg may have lost her touch with "Until the Real Thing Comes Along" (her last book) but I have regained my faith in her. She's such an amazing writer. While "Pull of the Moon" and "Range of Motion" are my all-time favorites, this book is one I will be sending to friends and family- male and female alike.
Buy it- you'll love it in every way.
Samantha ("Sam") has been married for about 20 years, when her husband, David, decides to move out and seek a divorce. Sam is devastated, especially since David refuses to really talk about it (dare I say like most men?). Sam's "support team" includes an outspoken, headstrong best-friend, her quirky mother, and a other entertaining characters who help change her life for the better.
This is a quick, fun, and even thought-provoking read about why we get into, stay and end relationships.