Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Review: Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg

First off, I must admit that I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Berg's writing. I have read most of Ms. Berg's books except a few of her earlier works. I find that Ms. Berg connects to the heart of a reader by touching on topics that we can relate to. She has a skill in her writing from creating characters that a reader connects to and she uses words and phrases that are heartfelt and realistic. That is why I am such a fan of Ms. Berg's books. I recently read and adored Home Safe, the characters, the story they all touched me and I felt such a connection to the honest emotions and feelings expressed throughout the book.

In Home Safe, we meet Helen, a recent widow and writer. She is trying to adjust to the sudden death of her husband Dan, her struggling relationship with her adult daughter Tessa and her parents aging and declining health. Helen was a successful and independent writer and already had several novels published. She finds herself struggling to write again and we follow her along this journey as she works through all of the recent changes in her life. Helen's husband Dan tended to shelter her from life's difficulties and Helen now has to learn how to resolve simple household repairs along with managing their finances and other day to day issues. She discovers that there are some mysteries related to their finances and an expense that her husband did not share with her before his death. Helen is forced to take charge of her life and make decisions that allow her to get to know herself, her daughter and these decisions change the course of her life.

Here is an interesting quote about Helen from Home Safe:

"She is not one of those people. She is her odd self. The kiln has been fired; she is a person persnickety about keeping her house clean but not above spitting on her desk to rub out a coffee stain; she will never be an athlete or a mathematician or a skinny person or someone whose heart isn't snagged by the sight of fireflies on a summer night and the lilting cadence of a few good lines of poetry."

Helen's character narrates the story and it is written in a a style that is typical of Elizabeth Berg. It's such an honest, open style that you almost feel as if you know Helen. There is a familiarity to the storytelling that is comforting and for me pulls me right into the book. We walk along the path with Helen and through her anecdotes are charmed and challenged just a bit to think how these ideas apply so aptly to life. I'm going to share one that touched me:

"She sits down and puts her hand to her chest and rocks. Thinks of all she has lost and will lose. All she has had an will have. It seems to her that life is like gathering berries into an apron with a hole. Why do we keep on? Because the berries are beautiful and we must eat to survive. We catch what we can. We walk past what we lose for the promise of more, just ahead. " pg. 237

If you haven't read Elizabeth Berg's novels, please do yourself a favor and pick one up. Home Safe is a great one to start with and my most favorite is Year of Pleasures which is written in a similar style as Home Safe. I'm going to have to write a review or recap of Year of Pleasures sometime soon as I read it before I started this blog. Home Safe would make a wonderful book club discussion book as there is a lot to discuss about this book including identity issues, marriage, mother-daughter issues, friendships, aging, death etc. I even found a reading guide for Home Safe, at Reading Group Guides.

You can visit Elizabeth Berg's Blog here, to find out more information about the author, her books and appearances. She even has a section called Fun Things, where she writes about girlfriends, shares recipes, photos, a blog etc.


  1. I'm so glad to see that it's good because I think the cover is divine.

  2. I love Berg, but must admit this cover does not excite me. I'm glad to know that I will like it as much as I love her other works. I think you hit her writing style and appeal perfectly!

  3. I've passed this up several times at the library because it's still a 14 day loan but when I go in this Saturday and if it's still there I'm grabbing it!!! I love Berg and can't wait to read this one. The last quote you posted was beautiful!! Loved this review Bonnie!!

  4. I've never read one of her novels, but you certainly are giving her high praise. I bought one of them at a yard sale last summer. I'm going to have make some time for it soon. Thanks for the great review, Bonnie.

  5. Thanks for the review. I recently read my first Berg novel (Pull of the Moon), and loved it! I've been wanting to read more.

  6. Great review.
    I went and put this book on hold at the library

  7. I haven't read Berg. I may just have to buy it. I with Bermudiaonion.. the cover is divinity. Very nice review Bonnie.

  8. This is such a beautiful cover. I've only read one Berg book (Talk Before Sleep) and I didn't care for it. Perhaps I'll pick this one up to see if it was just a reading fluke. Glad you enjoyed it!

  9. Nice review Bonnie. I've heard mixed reviews on this one but being a fan I do want to read it eventually. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


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