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
Praise for Durable Goods
"A little gem of a book."—Richard Bausch
Praise for Talk Before Sleep
"Elizabeth Berg is one of those rare souls who can play with truths as if swinging across the void from one trapeze to another."
Praise for The Pull of the Moon
"It is wise and witty, thoughtful and exhilarating. It leaves the reader observing life with greater hope and satisfaction."
Praise for What We Keep
"Berg knows the hearts of her characters intimately, showing them with compassion, humor, and an illuminating generosity."
—The Seattle Times
Praise for Range of Motion
"Berg's brilliant insights about the human condition, plus her capacity for turning the ordinary into richly detailed prose, make this book the love story of the year."
—Detroit Free Press