“It’s easy to understand why Elizabeth Berg is a beloved, best-selling writer.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Simple, beautiful, and ever so real . . . one of [Elizabeth Berg’s] most honest and intimate novels.”—Boston Globe
“Home Safe explores, with insight and humor, what it’s like to lose everything and to emerge from the other side.”—St. Petersburg Times
“[Elizabeth] Berg gracefully renders . . . the notions that every life . . . has its share of awful loss, and that even crushed, defeated hearts can be revived.”—Publishers Weekly
“[Berg’s] warmth, humor, and forgiving eye for human nature, mixing wry observation with heartwarming moments, make this a pleasant read.”—Library Journal
A husband dies, his wife and daughter mourn, and then the real story begins. Recently widowed Helen Adams thought she knew her husband, never imagining that her gentle, attentive life partner had been leading a costly double life. With her inheritance already squandered and her memories in shambles, she must fumble with improvised plans to keep herself afloat. Meanwhile, her 27-year-old daughter, Tessa, finds herself at a crossroads, or even several crossroads at once. Drawing closer despite early misunderstandings, they embark on unseen roads and fresh adventures. This quintessential Elizabeth Berg relationship novel is an absorbing read.
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 And then Helen discovers Dan had withdrawn a huge chunk of their retirement money, and Helen's quest to find out what happened turns into a journey of self-discovery and hard-won healing.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.
Eleven months after her husband's sudden death, Helen Ames remains helpless about home repair, ignorant of finances, and stymied by writer's block. Lonely and unsuited to any job outside the home, Helen has nothing to do but exasperate her adult daughter, Tessa, by intruding, until the family accountant calls asking about a secret withdrawal of $850,000 her husband made before dying. The mystery is quickly resolved, but in the meantime, Helen reluctantly agrees to lead an adult writing workshop for pay. The story then proceeds comfortably through Helen's coming to terms with her husband's surprise, her daughter's well-meaning withdrawal, and Helen's journey of self-discovery-with the help of her students-outside of her roles as wife, mother, writer. Prolific novelist Berg (The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted) is an accomplished master of women's fiction. Her warmth, humor, and forgiving eye for human nature, mixing wry observation with heartwarming moments, make this a pleasant read. Recommended for popular fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ1/09.]
Laurie A. Cavanaugh
Widow discovers an $850,000 crack in her nest egg in Berg's latest (The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted, 2008, etc.). Helen, a bestselling author living in Chicago, is experiencing writer's block for the first time in her life. And no wonder: Her husband Dan died of a heart attack at the breakfast table. Her elderly father has cancer. Phobic about money matters, she's been dodging increasingly frantic calls from her accountant, Steve, and has toyed with taking holiday employment at Anthropologie, even going so far as to interview. A library program director is hounding her to teach a writer's workshop. Toxic fan mail from wannabe writer Margot attacks Helen's body of work as "insipid," "mawkish" and an insult to literature. When Steve finally reaches Helen it's to ask if she has any idea what her husband did with the 850 large he withdrew from the couple's retirement account before his death. Helen had preferred to let Dan handle all the finances, but she had no reason not to trust him. After some promising setups (At 59, would Helen be Anthropologie's oldest cashier? Was squeaky-clean Dan leading a double life?) Berg seems to fall back on her default worldview: Her characters are simply too nice, too timid or both, to get themselves into any interesting messes. Helen sabotages the job interview, and she learns early on (from well-preserved hunky architect Tom) that Dan siphoned off the funds to surprise Helen with the California retirement house of her dreams. The writing class adds the most spice-Helen's arch-rival, a catty novelist, is a co-instructor, and arch-rival-in training Margot brings a masterpiece to the workshop. Otherwise, stock minor players-Helen's skeptical daughter, Tessa,her wise-cracking best girlfriend, Midge, and Tom, a hot romantic prospect (and he's handy too!)-and a plot that ducks every conflict render this outing listless. Neither insipid nor mawkish but definitely phoned-in. Author tour Boston, Chicago/Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Portland, Ore., San Francisco