Saturday, September 26, 2009

Open House by Elizabeth Berg

From the author's website: A woman whose husband abruptly leaves her decides that rather than selling their house, she will keep it and rent out rooms to boarders. This novel, which was an Oprah pick, is about finding the gifts inside yourself that you've ignored or not been aware of. It emphasizes the fact that sometimes it takes a tragedy to get you to the best place you can be.

I am undecided about Elizabeth Berg; she makes me think of an American version of Maeve Binchy. This story, Open House, is a gentle unfolding of someone's relationships following a divorce but being the American version there is some sex and some cussing! I was interested in the story, the characters, the descriptions. Berg describes the fresh-faced, polite bag boys at the fancy supermarket and says she thinks they go home at night "back to the 1950's". An unsuccessful sexual encounter results in comparing a penis to a flaccid "grub worm". The part that leaves me undecided is that the story unfolds almost too gently and slowly, it doesn't have the distinct arc that hooks me and makes me want to keep going and find something out. This story seemed like it could go on forever - that we were just following Samantha through life and it would never end - after all, aren't we all unfinished business until The End? My only other thought is that both books I have read by Elizabeth Berg were about women restarting their lives after losing a man - the first, The Year of Pleasures was about a widower, and now, Open House is about a divorcee. I wonder if all her books are like this or if I just happened to run into two with a similar theme.

I've finished up the audio book challenge but I'm adding the extras as I finish them.

1 comment:

Belle said...

I enjoy Berg's books a lot, but I'm always surprised that I'm never driven to search them out. I think you've just provided my answer. Her books are gentle and slow unfoldings, and I find once I start reading, I really savor the experience, but when I'm actually looking for something to read, I'm not thinking about anything gently unfolding!

The appeal to me in her books is the theme of a woman's self-discovery. I never tire of reading this theme, and she does it so well.