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Open House

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In this superb novel by the beloved author of Talk Before Sleep, The Pull of the Moon, and Until the Real Thing Comes Along, a woman re-creates her life after divorce by opening up her house and her heart. Samantha's husband has left her, and after a spree of overcharging at Tiffany's, she settles down to reconstruct a life for herself and her eleven-year-old son. Her eccen In this superb novel by the beloved author of Talk Before Sleep, The Pull of the Moon, and Until the Real Thing Comes Along, a woman re-creates her life after divorce by opening up her house and her heart. Samantha's husband has left her, and after a spree of overcharging at Tiffany's, she settles down to reconstruct a life for herself and her eleven-year-old son. Her eccentric mother tries to help by fixing her up with dates, but a more pressing problem is money. To meet her mortgage payments, Sam decides to take in boarders. The first is an older woman who offers sage advice and sorely needed comfort; the second, a maladjusted student, is not quite so helpful. A new friend, King, an untraditional man, suggests that Samantha get out, get going, get work. But her real work is this: In order to emerge from grief and the past, she has to learn how to make her own happiness. In order to really see people, she has to look within her heart. And in order to know who she is, she has to remember--and reclaim--the person she used to be, long before she became someone else in an effort to save her marriage. Open House is a love story about what can blossom between a man and a woman, and within a woman herself. From the Hardcover edition.


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In this superb novel by the beloved author of Talk Before Sleep, The Pull of the Moon, and Until the Real Thing Comes Along, a woman re-creates her life after divorce by opening up her house and her heart. Samantha's husband has left her, and after a spree of overcharging at Tiffany's, she settles down to reconstruct a life for herself and her eleven-year-old son. Her eccen In this superb novel by the beloved author of Talk Before Sleep, The Pull of the Moon, and Until the Real Thing Comes Along, a woman re-creates her life after divorce by opening up her house and her heart. Samantha's husband has left her, and after a spree of overcharging at Tiffany's, she settles down to reconstruct a life for herself and her eleven-year-old son. Her eccentric mother tries to help by fixing her up with dates, but a more pressing problem is money. To meet her mortgage payments, Sam decides to take in boarders. The first is an older woman who offers sage advice and sorely needed comfort; the second, a maladjusted student, is not quite so helpful. A new friend, King, an untraditional man, suggests that Samantha get out, get going, get work. But her real work is this: In order to emerge from grief and the past, she has to learn how to make her own happiness. In order to really see people, she has to look within her heart. And in order to know who she is, she has to remember--and reclaim--the person she used to be, long before she became someone else in an effort to save her marriage. Open House is a love story about what can blossom between a man and a woman, and within a woman herself. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for Open House

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dylan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Open House is a celebration of self-absorption, self-centeredness and self-pity in women. The book centers on a recent divorcee, Sam, who whines incessantly and feels sorry for herself. Sam reads like a misogynist’s idea of what a woman is, alternating between a nagging, vindictive shrew and an emotional, ultra-sensitive, self-pitying sad-sack who’s always one slight away from crying. Seriously, why exactly are we supposed to give a damn about this pathetic individual? There are people like this Open House is a celebration of self-absorption, self-centeredness and self-pity in women. The book centers on a recent divorcee, Sam, who whines incessantly and feels sorry for herself. Sam reads like a misogynist’s idea of what a woman is, alternating between a nagging, vindictive shrew and an emotional, ultra-sensitive, self-pitying sad-sack who’s always one slight away from crying. Seriously, why exactly are we supposed to give a damn about this pathetic individual? There are people like this in real life and they do deserve help, of the psychiatric kind; that doesn’t mean their self-centered antics have to be celebrated or legitimized in “literature” (if an Oprah Book Club pick can count under that distinction). Talking about self-centeredness, there’s a slobbering interview with author Elizabeth Berg featured in the back of the book, in which she says “A lot of men have told me that my books help them understand their women better...”. If I thought there was even the slightest truth to the notion that most women behave like this, and not just a certain sector of Oprah-loving upper-class divorcees who feel like the world owes them something, it would be enough for me to swear off the female sex for life. What makes the whining and self-pitying of Sam so perverse is that, by all accounts, she lives a really good life. Better than most of us do. She’s never had to work a day in her life. She lives a luxurious, upper-class lifestyle. Even after the breakdown of her marriage, she gets to keep the house, and the fact that she needs to bring in tenants to help with the pay is treated as some major life-changing development rather than the reality it is for most people. Here’s someone who has had everything handed to her on a platter in life and yet cries, whines, and never learns a goddamn thing. There are people struggling to pay their bills, people starving to death in third-world countries, people suffering with severe disabilities and mental illness, and all she can do is whine about how her divorce is the end of the world. Look, I get that divorce can be a hugely upsetting and catastrophic event in some people’s lives – my parents divorced, but they never took it as cart blanche to forgo all their responsibilities and act like immature children. Among the litany of Sam’s offenses: - After finding a pair of her husband’s dirty boxers in the laundry, she buries her face in them and tries to inhale the scent. Then, she sews up the fly on the boxers. If you think this was some stupid spur-of-the-moment decision, to quote Sam, “With great care, I do this, with tenderness”. Oh yeah, in case that wasn’t enough: “Then I go back to the pile of laundry and get some of his fancy socks and sew the tops of them shut”. - Determined to live in “elegance” following the divorce, Sam decides she will make her son freshly-squeezed orange juice...despite the fact that he doesn’t like it. When he says she doesn’t have to make it, she insists. When he asks for a glass of Tropicana from the fridge instead, she refuses. When he asks if they’re out of it, she lies and says yes. When he opens the fridge and sees the jug of juice, she dumps it down the sink. That will show the stupid kid for wanting a glass of juice. - Sam insists on being the one to break the news to her son about the divorce. Then, she tells her son that the reason for the divorce is because his dad is self-centered and she hates him. Following this outburst, she begins to mope about her bad breath, gray hair and cellulite rather than the fact, you know, that she just horribly upset her son. - Deciding not to resort to vindictive pettiness, Sam goes to "Tiffanys" and charges $12,000 worth of stuff she has no need for to her husband’s credit card. She’s then shocked when her husband freezes their account and cuts her off. - She eavesdrops on her son and his friend. When she hears them playing a harmless prank call on a girl in their class, she storms into the room, takes a bag of cookies from the friend and decides she will lecture her son on how to treat women properly. Prank phone calls? No. Charging $12,000 to someone else’s credit card? Sure, why not? - Sam goes on a blind date with a man. She acts like a real floozy, kissing him in the restaurant and asking “Should we do it here? Or should we go and make out in the car with the heater turned up?” They end up back at his place, where they begin making love to each other. Midway through, she asks this man playfully, with a laugh, to stop. When he doesn’t, she tells him seriously to stop. He immediately stops. Sure, he is mean to her afterward, but he does stop. Then she goes home, tells the man who is babysitting her son as a favor that all men are assholes, and then claims she was date-raped, “Almost”. So you ask a guy to stop and he does, and that’s date-rape? You wanna try telling that to a woman has actually suffered through the trauma of date rape, Sam? - After getting a temporary week-long job literally doing nothing but sitting behind a desk and making change, Sam is offered a full-time position. She turns it down. She says she can’t commit to a full-time job. Really, what the hell else do you have to do? If you actually have the time to delicately sew the flies shut on your husband’s boxers, I think you have time for a job. - Sam prepares a Thanksgiving dinner for herself. She mixes all the food on her plate, and when she doesn’t like the look of it, dumps all the perfectly good food down the garbage disposal. Meanwhile, somewhere out-there is a family of four starving. - Throughout Open House, Sam rents out rooms in her house to different tenants. If I remember correctly, at one time or another she enters each of these tenant’s rooms without their knowledge and pokes around, lies on their beds and just plain out invades their privacy. As a final note, besides the general nastiness of Sam, I was fairly disturbed by the abundance of racist and homophobic stereotypes throughout Open House. I consider myself a fairly politically incorrect person; it takes quite a bit to offend me. However, even I was a little put off by some of the characterizations in Open House. There’s a black guy who carries a boom-box blasting rap music, a black mom begging for change on a street corner with her kid, an old Asian Laundromat owner with “tea-colored teeth” who speaks in broken English with monosyllabic phrases such as “Detective!” and “Dumb”, a flamboyantly gay hairdresser, and a teenager who is, of course, an emo. We get 241 pages about the troubles of middle-aged, upper-class, white women and you can't throw in a single minority character that isn't a stereotype straight out of the 1920's.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    Elizabeth Berg might just be my favorite author for a guaranteed, enjoyable comfort read. I may need to keep one of her books handy at all times. Her stories are true to life, her characters are relatable and I tend to fly through her books and end them with a sense of satisfaction for time well spent. This was no different. Samantha "Sam" is sailing along in her marriage, keeping a home for her husband and Mothering her son Travis, but when her husband leaves her the boat capsizes and leaves h Elizabeth Berg might just be my favorite author for a guaranteed, enjoyable comfort read. I may need to keep one of her books handy at all times. Her stories are true to life, her characters are relatable and I tend to fly through her books and end them with a sense of satisfaction for time well spent. This was no different. Samantha "Sam" is sailing along in her marriage, keeping a home for her husband and Mothering her son Travis, but when her husband leaves her the boat capsizes and leaves her rather adrift. She starts to question everything in her life. After her initial shock, (and rather fun reactions....which includes a call to Martha Stewart and a shopping trip at Tiffany's) she gets busy trying to create a new life for herself and her son. She backslides some but gets quite a bit of help from her no nonsense friend Rita, "clueless" Mother and a new friend, King. Her son Travis even offers up quite a bit of 11 year old advice.....mostly, "You really are crazy!" This is a thoughtful and often humorous look at the end of a marriage and one way of life...and all the new avenues that can open up to you if you are willing to travel them. I would imagine many women have been in the same place....or helped someone close to them through it. The story is not all feel good, but somehow you know it will end up well. “I remove my wedding rings and put them in the jewelry box. So many others have done this. I am not the only one. I am not the only one. But here, I am the only one.”

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Metcalf

    3.5 stars rounded up What a delightful little book was Open House by Elizabeth Berg. It's been sitting on my bookshelf for the longest time just waiting to reach the top of my TBR. Samantha Morrow is 42, has an 11 year old son Travis and is happy in her life and her marriage. Unfortunately her husband is not happily married, has moved out and decided they'll be divorced. Sam is devastated and simply doesn't know how to make this new life work. I'm fortunate not to have experienced this first hand 3.5 stars rounded up What a delightful little book was Open House by Elizabeth Berg. It's been sitting on my bookshelf for the longest time just waiting to reach the top of my TBR. Samantha Morrow is 42, has an 11 year old son Travis and is happy in her life and her marriage. Unfortunately her husband is not happily married, has moved out and decided they'll be divorced. Sam is devastated and simply doesn't know how to make this new life work. I'm fortunate not to have experienced this first hand however Berg certainly made this experience real for me. Sam is insistent upon staying in the family home so to enble this she decides to rent out a couple of rooms. She also decides to find work for the first time in her adult life. With wonderful skill Berg managed to bring her characters to life and with them I traversed their journey and experienced the gamut of associated emotions. There were some light moments, even some humourous ones and the author managed to shine a light on human relationships of various shapes and sizes. Fortunately Elizabeth Berg was selected as the BT Author read for December. I've read a couple of her titles and have enjoyed each one and this was no exception. Given it's only the 2nd of the month I might try to squeeze in another of her titles before the month is out. If you enjoy womens fiction you could certainly do worse than this and I'm very glad to have finally read this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Janice Williams

    I read "Open House" by Elizabeth Berg for the first time four years ago. I discovered her books at the library and read all of Berg’s titles available there, then purchased some additional titles as well. I’ve now read all of her books except, oddly considering my profession, her book on writing, which I haven’t finished yet. A few weeks ago, I decided to purchase paperback editions and re-read a few of Berg’s books. I started with Open House. I’ve just now gone to Berg’s site to grab a short syn I read "Open House" by Elizabeth Berg for the first time four years ago. I discovered her books at the library and read all of Berg’s titles available there, then purchased some additional titles as well. I’ve now read all of her books except, oddly considering my profession, her book on writing, which I haven’t finished yet. A few weeks ago, I decided to purchase paperback editions and re-read a few of Berg’s books. I started with Open House. I’ve just now gone to Berg’s site to grab a short synopsis, and see that Open House was published by Random House in 2000. This novel was the author’s first (written), but not the first she had published. Here is the synopsis from Elizabeth-Berg.net. A woman whose husband has moved out 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. Here is mine: When husband David leaves Samantha after many years of marriage, Sam first reacts by imitating Martha Stewart in an attempt to create the perfect home for her and her 11-year-old son, Travis. When this soon wanes, Sam, determined to keep the family home, opens the doors of her house and the doors of her heart to a few strangers and a man named King, who has a degree in astrophysics and works for a temp agency. Sam starts working there, too, and as the book progresses, Berg weaves the story of how a person’s heart can heal and open to the beauty of the world around them once again, even when they are so profoundly changed by circumstances that they may feel unrecognizable to their former selves. When Sam faces what she thought she once longed for, and makes a surprising decision, some readers may recognize having been faced with a similar dilemma as time marches on and our old dreams boomerang back in our faces, challenging our new desires. Open House is not simply my favorite Elizabeth Berg book; it is one of my very favorite books ever. This is because it is well-written, well-woven, and I can relate to much of the storyline. My first marriage lasted about the same length as fictional character Samantha’s. My boys were about the same age as Sam’s son, Travis. I, too, had to figure out how to earn money, how to handle a life that had suddenly changed in what felt like every single way, how to parent pre-teen sons and in that process re-invent myself, or find myself, or just grow and change, like many people do. But this commonplace process takes extraordinary strength, I believe (not compared to humanity but compared to what we might have been called upon before to have), and Berg seems to think so also. She blends strength and a fragile sensitivity into the character of Sam (as well as King), and this makes the main character someone you would want as your best friend; someone you want to be happy and to be loved. As a writer, I find it impressive that in the 241 pages of Open House the author has created endearing characters and a story that touched me so deeply because as I read it I thought, Yes, that! I did that same thing. I felt that same way. This is the magic of Berg’s writing, in this book and in others. If you haven’t yet discovered her books, start with one of her many titles soon. Note: This is not a paid review, nor a requested review, and I have never worked with Elizabeth Berg, though I have liked her Facebook page. ~Janice Phelps Williams, writer, illustrator at www.janicephelps.com Author of “Open Your Heart with Pets: Mastering Life through Love of Animals” (Transformation Publishing 2012)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Shallow sketches of uninteresting characters paired with the bare outline of a plot whose every development was easily guessed. Had Berg gone any deeper into any of the characters, we might have had a reason to empathize or sympathize with them, to root for them even, but instead we can hardly wait for the book to end. Which doesn't take long, because there's nothing of substance to slow down the page turning. I started the book two weeks before I finished it, because I set it down after the fir Shallow sketches of uninteresting characters paired with the bare outline of a plot whose every development was easily guessed. Had Berg gone any deeper into any of the characters, we might have had a reason to empathize or sympathize with them, to root for them even, but instead we can hardly wait for the book to end. Which doesn't take long, because there's nothing of substance to slow down the page turning. I started the book two weeks before I finished it, because I set it down after the first third (which was read in under an hour) and then *forgot that I was reading it* because it was so inconsequential.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Suede

    Next time I find myself thinking that I need a really easy read, I'll edit my thought to be "I need an easy, BUT STILL WORTHWHILE, read." Although I hate to love, and love to hate on Oprah and her book club books, they usually are pretty decent. Oprah needs to fire who ever read this book for her, at once! And the thing I find the most perplexing is that my mom left it in my room at home to read. I mean, she actually read this book and thought to herself "Liz would like this" and then put it in my Next time I find myself thinking that I need a really easy read, I'll edit my thought to be "I need an easy, BUT STILL WORTHWHILE, read." Although I hate to love, and love to hate on Oprah and her book club books, they usually are pretty decent. Oprah needs to fire who ever read this book for her, at once! And the thing I find the most perplexing is that my mom left it in my room at home to read. I mean, she actually read this book and thought to herself "Liz would like this" and then put it in my room for me to find. It just baffles me. (to her credit though she has recommended many fine books in the past...)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 Elizabeth Berg has a way of creating characters who I want to be friends with. They are real and vulnerable and strong. This was a story about Sam, who is heartbroken and lost after her husband moves out. Sam slowly picks herself up with the help of some wonderful friends. Loved this one.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I was truly shocked by how much I disliked this book. I've been enjoying Elizabeth Berg's books since I picked up a copy of Say When at my library in 2004-- since then I haven't read one I didn't enjoy a great deal...until now. This story was awkward, weird, and depressing. The characters were very hard to connect with, or even like. Finally, the conflicts were tied up with a neat, tidy, and abrupt bow in the end while glossing over a great deal of pain and trauma. It also had the feel of trying I was truly shocked by how much I disliked this book. I've been enjoying Elizabeth Berg's books since I picked up a copy of Say When at my library in 2004-- since then I haven't read one I didn't enjoy a great deal...until now. This story was awkward, weird, and depressing. The characters were very hard to connect with, or even like. Finally, the conflicts were tied up with a neat, tidy, and abrupt bow in the end while glossing over a great deal of pain and trauma. It also had the feel of trying too hard to be something it wasn't. I'm really surprised that THIS was chosen as an Oprah book club selection when Ms. Berg has written wonderful books like The Year of Pleasures and Range of Motion.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I am going to review this book based on the first 3/4 and the last 1/4. At first, I was pleasantly surprised when I picked this one up. Berg described feelings and characters in such detail that I was eager to read more of her work. I really felt for Sam, the main character, and I loved how Berg added Sam's inner thoughts as an aside of the regular plot. I was debating between 4 and 5 stars because I kept thinking about what would happen at the end and I was really into the book. The last 1/4, I w I am going to review this book based on the first 3/4 and the last 1/4. At first, I was pleasantly surprised when I picked this one up. Berg described feelings and characters in such detail that I was eager to read more of her work. I really felt for Sam, the main character, and I loved how Berg added Sam's inner thoughts as an aside of the regular plot. I was debating between 4 and 5 stars because I kept thinking about what would happen at the end and I was really into the book. The last 1/4, I wanted to throw it out the window. I don't like to review with spoilers because I like to think my friends occasionally use my reviews to help their next choice for what to read, like I do with most books. :) Anyway, there was an incredibly unbelievable plot twist that totally ruined it for me. I no longer saw Sam as a real person but rather a fictional character who was desperate and cheesy and all the things she didn't seem in the first half. The end was less than thrilling. So, Open House gets an average of 3 stars from me.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Britany

    Samantha's husband recently left her and her 11 year old son Travis. She expresses herself through Martha Stewart, shopping at Tiffany's and renting out rooms in her house to many different personality types. The characters throughout the book all teach Samantha something about herself and she re-discovers herself and her strength along the way. I really enjoyed this one. I listened to it on audiobook and was completely enraptured in the storyline. Beth Fowler was the narrator and she did an incr Samantha's husband recently left her and her 11 year old son Travis. She expresses herself through Martha Stewart, shopping at Tiffany's and renting out rooms in her house to many different personality types. The characters throughout the book all teach Samantha something about herself and she re-discovers herself and her strength along the way. I really enjoyed this one. I listened to it on audiobook and was completely enraptured in the storyline. Beth Fowler was the narrator and she did an incredible job. I laughed out loud and really connected with what Sam was going through. Looking forward to reading more by Elizabeth Berg.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Hicks

    This was a horrible book, I had to give up. I couldn't finish it. The protagonist was so pathetic, I was embarrassed for her and she's a fictional character!! Lol. A complete waste of time!!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Roxy

    I was having trouble settling on a book after so much dense school reading, so I decided to let Oprah guide me. This book is kind of like advanced chick lit. The prose is simple and honest, and somehow very comforting. Ideal if you want to spend a weekend lying on the couch with some sort of snack food, but still sophisticated enough to not induce that "I just watched a marathon of The Bachelor" feeling.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Moses Kilolo

    Was that the end? I flipped a page, like I'd just been doing from the first, and now I realize I have no more pages to flip! Its finished. And I am wondering what an ending should do to me as a reader, leave me wanting more, hanging or just plain bored. Well, this book was certainly entertaining. Even incredibly readable. The perfect kind to take you into another world, wherein you find life true, almost familiar. After her husband leaves her, Sam wants to recreate her life. First there is the is Was that the end? I flipped a page, like I'd just been doing from the first, and now I realize I have no more pages to flip! Its finished. And I am wondering what an ending should do to me as a reader, leave me wanting more, hanging or just plain bored. Well, this book was certainly entertaining. Even incredibly readable. The perfect kind to take you into another world, wherein you find life true, almost familiar. After her husband leaves her, Sam wants to recreate her life. First there is the issue of dealing with her 11 year old son. What is he to know, how much, when and how? Then there is her mother who thinks that Sam needs to move on, date, have fun, and live. While she looks at her son and feels like a cheap failure, she looks at her mother and remembers the loss of her father, and how the mother went on to date man after man. Sam cannot find one thing she likes about herself. She even thinks of accidental death. Rather desperate and torn, Sam is ready to do anything. But she would not let go of her house. With little money to her credit, she opens up her house to borders to in the hope of getting a little help in paying the mortgage. But each of the three individual come with their own set of worldviews, some good, some bad. But each in their own way impact on her life. This is an immensely readable book. I didn't find anything that made me stop and say wow, this is deep. But then in that light and special way it seemed to speak straight to the heart. As a confession of sorts.

  14. 5 out of 5

    J.H. Moncrieff

    Open House is one of my all-time favourite books. This is probably the fifth or sixth time I've read it, and it never gets old. On its surface, it seems like a familiar story: husband abandons wife, wife is crushed, her circumstances and responsibility to her child force her to pick herself up and eventually embrace life again. But Berg's writing is heartbreakingly beautiful and poignant, her characters so real and funny and likeable. Berg can move me to tears and make me laugh, often in the same Open House is one of my all-time favourite books. This is probably the fifth or sixth time I've read it, and it never gets old. On its surface, it seems like a familiar story: husband abandons wife, wife is crushed, her circumstances and responsibility to her child force her to pick herself up and eventually embrace life again. But Berg's writing is heartbreakingly beautiful and poignant, her characters so real and funny and likeable. Berg can move me to tears and make me laugh, often in the same sentence. She's so good that reading her books makes me want to throw my hands in the air and say, "I give up!" when it comes to my own writing. For example, to show tenderness and love, she has a man take off a woman's glasses, clean them for her, and gently replace them. Who but Berg would think of that? I seriously have savoured every line in this novel. It's how she never fails to make ordinary life extraordinary, and how she connects seemingly disconnected things. Not to mention she tells a damn good story. I highly, highly recommend this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tracey Hudson

    I didn't really care for this book. I understand how devastating a divorce can be, but was thoroughly irritated by how pathetic Sam became (at one point even throwing herself at the very man who abandoned her and her son). I could've really gotten behind this character and cheered for her if she had pulled herself up, quit feeling sorry for herself, and strived to create a new life for herself. She did eventually do that but I still felt that she was letting life happen to her rather than living I didn't really care for this book. I understand how devastating a divorce can be, but was thoroughly irritated by how pathetic Sam became (at one point even throwing herself at the very man who abandoned her and her son). I could've really gotten behind this character and cheered for her if she had pulled herself up, quit feeling sorry for herself, and strived to create a new life for herself. She did eventually do that but I still felt that she was letting life happen to her rather than living life. Also, while reading the book, you get the sense that the time span is over several months, when actually the whole book takes place inside of a couple of months. So basically, if you nothing else to read, then by all means curl up with this book. It is a quick and easy read, but not one that will compel you or leave you wanting more.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Just a fun easy read about 42 year old Samantha who must learn to live on her own with her 11 year old son Travis after her husband decides he wants a divorce and leaves her. The book is written with lots of humor and Sam's interactions with her new borders; an elderly woman with a boyfriend, an extremely negative depressed student and a wonderful hair stylist gay man make for an interesting mix of personalities that add to her already challenging situation. However, when she meets KING, her who Just a fun easy read about 42 year old Samantha who must learn to live on her own with her 11 year old son Travis after her husband decides he wants a divorce and leaves her. The book is written with lots of humor and Sam's interactions with her new borders; an elderly woman with a boyfriend, an extremely negative depressed student and a wonderful hair stylist gay man make for an interesting mix of personalities that add to her already challenging situation. However, when she meets KING, her whole world changes as she finds a friend and lover who appreciates her for herself and loves her just the way she is.This is my first Elizabeth Berg read, and, although I can't say it is one of my favorite books, I did enjoy it and intend to checkout her other books.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Faydra Stratton

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Whine. Whine. Whine. That's the first two hundred pages. The only reason I stuck with it is because the first person narrator did have an interesting voice between the whining. But she truly doesn't get anywhere. Just whining and pining for her husband who left her and who she knows was bad for her but even after two hundred pages she would take him back! I mean so much so that when, after another 50, pages he does want to come back I'm thinking why not? It's not like you've grown emotionally, y Whine. Whine. Whine. That's the first two hundred pages. The only reason I stuck with it is because the first person narrator did have an interesting voice between the whining. But she truly doesn't get anywhere. Just whining and pining for her husband who left her and who she knows was bad for her but even after two hundred pages she would take him back! I mean so much so that when, after another 50, pages he does want to come back I'm thinking why not? It's not like you've grown emotionally, you may as well go back to your old life... As for the title "Open House" it's in reference to the roommates she takes in to help pay the mortgage now that she's facing divorce, but each roommate comes and goes quickly and only serves as a caricature for amusement. Ditto for King, originally "just a friend" but inevitable love interest - he's too perfect, too ridiculous (went to MIT but he's a dog walker? Lame.) I just read about the made-for-tv version of this story and if you are interested in this story, I'm guessing this would be the better way to go and in the movie they make King a roommate which makes more sense.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    True to form, Elizabeth Berg sucks again. What do I care about a dumpy, depressed, middle-aged divorcee who spends her evenings reading Oprah book club selections and chowing down chocolate bars? On the up-side, it made me feel thin and accomplished.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    I am pretty much crazy over this book💗It is short, it is sweet, it is laugh out loud funny in places, and cry into your Kleenex sad in places-a gem and a joy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Fishgirl

    Ten. Ten stars. This is an ideal writer for me. Yeah.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...

    Elizabeth Berg has created a very real and relatable character experiencing grief and the loss of a marriage after divorce. She is at first in shock, and then we see her experience self-pity, anger, and eventually growth and redemption. It is a journey of self-discovery, the loss of hope and love and the later recovery of self. Open House is about Samantha (Sam), a wife and mother of one boy, who is a stay at home mom and full time carer for her man and her boy. When her husband leaves her, she f Elizabeth Berg has created a very real and relatable character experiencing grief and the loss of a marriage after divorce. She is at first in shock, and then we see her experience self-pity, anger, and eventually growth and redemption. It is a journey of self-discovery, the loss of hope and love and the later recovery of self. Open House is about Samantha (Sam), a wife and mother of one boy, who is a stay at home mom and full time carer for her man and her boy. When her husband leaves her, she feels as though her life has crashed and that she is lost. The loss makes her question everything about herself and her life. “I remove my wedding rings and put them in the jewelry box. So many others have done this. I am not the only one. I am not the only one. But here, I am the only one.” When the initial shock wears off, she determines to create a new life for herself and her son. She relies on two friendships, as well as her fairly clueless mother. At times she even gets advice from her 11 year old son. But mostly, she relies on herself, and this is what makes the book good. We watch her grow and change, pulling herself out of a depressive state, examining her own desires, acting with some healthy selfishness, and becoming both self-reliant and self-confident. She isn't always likable or even empathetic, but that was part of the power of the book, because none of us are. It is easy to wallow and hard to change, and we are treated to a very real examination of that process of change and progression. The story is thoughtful, provoking, intuitive and sometimes quite funny. It is something many women will recognize themselves in.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Samantha is a pathetic, depressing character for 32 of 36 chapters. What a disappointing book!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tania

    I really did enjoy this book - it was very readable and fast paced. I cared about the key characters. Alot of what happens in the book felt true to life, and I particularly enjoyed the relationships between Sam and her son, and Sam and her mother. I also thought that Berg used her secondary characters, the people who roomed at Samantha's, quite well. The evolution of the characters was good. The plot was engaging, overall. Some of the imagery is quite stunning. So why not a full five stars? I've I really did enjoy this book - it was very readable and fast paced. I cared about the key characters. Alot of what happens in the book felt true to life, and I particularly enjoyed the relationships between Sam and her son, and Sam and her mother. I also thought that Berg used her secondary characters, the people who roomed at Samantha's, quite well. The evolution of the characters was good. The plot was engaging, overall. Some of the imagery is quite stunning. So why not a full five stars? I've struggled with that; I read this book ages ago and I've avoided reviewing it because I've been torn. The problem is that although the book was good, it wasn't particularly great. In the first three or four chapters, it seems like Berg is going to really let Samantha struggle, and we're going to get to see some of the real pain a person can feel as they rebuild from a separation. The problem is she never quite goes far enough; the emotional depth isn't quite there. Everything seems to be wrapped up too quickly and easily. I wanted to get a better understanding of who David was, and why the marriage broke up (to be fair to Berg, she does write some effective flashbacks, and this really is Sam's story, not Sam and David's story). And I wanted to like the character of King more. He was just goofy to me. In short, if you want a book that's well written and a fast read, you'll like this book. If you're looking for something with really deep insights into how a woman recovers from her husband suddenly walking out, this book doesn't quite live up to it's potential. Enjoy it for a light summer read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lynne

    What a fun, crazy book. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to be amused by the antics of a recently separated woman ("Sam") with an 11-year-old son, who takes on a roommate to help pay the mortgage. The subsequent revolving roommates are absolute characters who add immensely to the drama. Sam's preteen son's indifferent, sometimes nasty attitude is right on (I would know). I loved the other characters in the book as well. Sam's long-distance friend, Rita, is blunt and honest and over-the-top bu What a fun, crazy book. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to be amused by the antics of a recently separated woman ("Sam") with an 11-year-old son, who takes on a roommate to help pay the mortgage. The subsequent revolving roommates are absolute characters who add immensely to the drama. Sam's preteen son's indifferent, sometimes nasty attitude is right on (I would know). I loved the other characters in the book as well. Sam's long-distance friend, Rita, is blunt and honest and over-the-top but at least you know where she stands; and her new friend "King" is likable and sweet (the way they meet is quite interesting). What a great friend he turns out to be. King not only hooks Sam up with a temporary job agency but babysits for her as well. The story follows Sam as she struggles with her sadness and low self-esteem after her husband leaves her, how she handles her intrusive mother and grudgingly accepted blind dates, and how she "finds" and finally loves herself. The ending will surprise you. Really. It will. Elizabeth Berg's writing is similar to Jennifer Weiner, whom I adore. She's witty, funny and surprisingly - very surprisingly at points - straightforward. Throughout the book I giggled like a school girl, grinned like a circus clown or laughed out loud. Can't wait to read her other books. If there was a 1/2 star, I would probably give it 4 1/2. I don't know that it's worthy of "amazing" (5 stars), but I was definitely entertained and would recommend it to others.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This book seemed like an honest look at a woman struggling through a divorce and was a fast read. I But this is the second of Berg’s books that I have read and haven’t really been all that impressed. Some of the writing and content was wonderful and very well written while other parts seemed rushed and undeveloped. There are two significant occurrences at the end of the book that although were life altering changes for Samantha, only garnered a few pages and didn’t really seem resolved. I won’t This book seemed like an honest look at a woman struggling through a divorce and was a fast read. I But this is the second of Berg’s books that I have read and haven’t really been all that impressed. Some of the writing and content was wonderful and very well written while other parts seemed rushed and undeveloped. There are two significant occurrences at the end of the book that although were life altering changes for Samantha, only garnered a few pages and didn’t really seem resolved. I won’t say what the things were because someone might want to read the book but feel free to contact me for further discussion. Definitely not a book worthy to be used in my AP class but possibly a good vacation read. One of the things I didn’t like about this book was the subject matter- it is depressing to read about divorce and it is a topic that frustrates me anyway. I would suggest this book if you want to complete all of the books on the Oprah list but I don’t think I would really encourage anyone to read it. Besides, I don’t think Oprah knows anything about books and I try to shy away from anything with her name on it which is bad because I think she does publicize some good books. However, I don’t want to seem like I am so unoriginal in my book choices that I need Oprah to tell me what is good literature or not. Okay, one more rant—I don’t know why Oprah is so popular because she has no connection with her audience which consists mostly of wives and mothers, two things that she is not. Okay, I am done—I guess the bottom line is that you probably don’t want to read this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sterlingcindysu

    A satisfying read, great character development and a good pace. The title comes from the idea that if we lifted the roofs off people's houses and saw how they really lived, it'd be a different story from their outward appearances. (copied review) Samantha's husband has left her, and after a spree of overcharging at Tiffany's, she settles down to reconstruct a life for herself and her eleven-year-old son. Her eccentric mother tries to help by fixing her up with dates, but a more pressing problem A satisfying read, great character development and a good pace. The title comes from the idea that if we lifted the roofs off people's houses and saw how they really lived, it'd be a different story from their outward appearances. (copied review) Samantha's husband has left her, and after a spree of overcharging at Tiffany's, she settles down to reconstruct a life for herself and her eleven-year-old son. Her eccentric mother tries to help by fixing her up with dates, but a more pressing problem is money. To meet her mortgage payments, Sam decides to take in boarders. The first is an older woman who offers sage advice and sorely needed comfort; the second, a maladjusted student, is not quite so helpful. A new friend, King, an untraditional man, suggests that Samantha get out, get going, get work. But her real work is this: In order to emerge from grief and the past, she has to learn how to make her own happiness. In order to really see people, she has to look within her heart. And in order to know who she is, she has to remember--and reclaim--the person she used to be, long before she became someone else in an effort to save her marriage. Open House is a love story about what can blossom between a man and a woman, and within a woman herself.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    If I could give this book zero stars I most definitely would. I don't know WHAT I was thinking delving into another book on Oprah's book list. I have found very few books on her list that don't make me want to poke myself in the eye with a dull pencil. I listened to this as an audio book and couldn't make it past the 2nd CD (out of 6). The narrator was good, but the story....AAAAGGGGHHHHH!!! A woman's husband leaves her, she mopes around, cries all the time, begs, pleads and whines to try to get If I could give this book zero stars I most definitely would. I don't know WHAT I was thinking delving into another book on Oprah's book list. I have found very few books on her list that don't make me want to poke myself in the eye with a dull pencil. I listened to this as an audio book and couldn't make it past the 2nd CD (out of 6). The narrator was good, but the story....AAAAGGGGHHHHH!!! A woman's husband leaves her, she mopes around, cries all the time, begs, pleads and whines to try to get him back. When it reached a point that he came for dinner to discuss "what happened to them" when she ends up on her knees in front of him, grasping him around the waist, sobbing in his lap and starting to kiss his groin and play with his zipper...that I called it quits. There is nothing I hate more the blubbering weak women who have a "whoa is me" attitude. I know Oprah is admired on a lot of fronts, selecting books is NOT one of them. I can't think of any reason someone would suffer through this book....

  28. 5 out of 5

    Leonel

    I liked my first Elizabeth berg book so much I decided to go read a second one, and I read what I thought was a popular choice: "Open House." It was an Oprah Book Club selection, and was a bestseller. The first thing I noticed is that it is kind of dated: characters still watch movies via VHS tapes, and people still calculated long distance phone call costs. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the book felt like a historical novel in that sense. I found this book very weird: it seems like Be I liked my first Elizabeth berg book so much I decided to go read a second one, and I read what I thought was a popular choice: "Open House." It was an Oprah Book Club selection, and was a bestseller. The first thing I noticed is that it is kind of dated: characters still watch movies via VHS tapes, and people still calculated long distance phone call costs. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the book felt like a historical novel in that sense. I found this book very weird: it seems like Berg couldn't decide on the tone of the book. It starts out sad and wistful, but she goes into comedic situations. And I never understood why Samantha needed borders, when it was established her husband was rich. So a lot of things confused me. But, it's very much readable and never boring. Still weird, though.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    In this book, Samantha, a woman in her forties with an eleven year old son, must face her grief, helplessness, and frustration when her husband leaves her. She ends up renting rooms in her house and taking temporary jobs to make ends meet. Through these, she meets characters who help her boost her confidence and build a new life. I love Elizabeth Berg's writing and the way she develops realistic characters, so the only reason I gave the book less than 5 stars was because I felt Samantha was a li In this book, Samantha, a woman in her forties with an eleven year old son, must face her grief, helplessness, and frustration when her husband leaves her. She ends up renting rooms in her house and taking temporary jobs to make ends meet. Through these, she meets characters who help her boost her confidence and build a new life. I love Elizabeth Berg's writing and the way she develops realistic characters, so the only reason I gave the book less than 5 stars was because I felt Samantha was a little pathetic and weak.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Alaska)

    Oh, of course this isn't anything like I usually read, but sometimes a book can happen at just the right moment. it's pure chick lit. Sam is presented with a divorce she doesn't want, so immediately goes out to Tiffany's and makes $12k worth of purchases. Eye roll, preceded and followed by several pages of eye rolling. I was darned near certain of the ending by about page 71. Still, it was fun, required no thought whatsoever. Sometimes you just have to take a break.

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