Thursday, August 21, 2014

Open House

Open House is a 2000 novel by Elizabeth Berg. It was an Oprah book club choice. It was adapted for TV in 2003. The story is a sad one of a woman working her way through a difficult abandonment, but there's a happy ending filled with hope.

description from
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.
selected quotes:
Divorce is a series of internal earthquakes, that's what it is, one after the other.
I was thinking that gratitude is too much absent in our lives now, and we need it back, even if it only takes the form of acknowledging the blue of a bowl against the red of cranberries.
You live your life, and you get to ask for things, and sometimes they are given to you.
I get out of bed and onto my knees, bow my head. Somewhere, a couple lie in bed together holding hands, and they will stay together until one of them dies. They will not hate each other over the breakfast table, they will give thanks for each other's presence. Somewhere that is true. This is my prayer.
There's an Elvis reference on page 64:
The man leans the bed frame gently against the wall, then extends his hand. "My name is King."
I laugh. "It is?"
"Honest to God. My parents were ... different."
"Well," I say. "I'm sorry for laughing. It's just, you know ... Graceland."
and a coffee reference I got a kick out of on page 71:
Now I sit with a fourth cup of coffee, feeling my heart beat too fast and not caring. Maybe this is a good way to kill yourself: an exuberant overdose of caffeine..."
Memphis Reads describes it as "a winsome and witty first-person narrative about a woman rediscovering herself, and finding, in turn, that there is indeed life and love after divorce." Kirkus Reviews closes by saying, "Skillfully crafted, with a fluidity and snap that will delight Berg's fans but, when all is said and done, a distressingly familiar story." Publishers Weekly opens their review with this: "A middle-aged woman asks herself if there's life after divorce, then answers with a resounding yes in another of Berg's gentle tales of female self-discovery."


  1. HMMM! Not sure this is the book I would want to read. I'm not into books with angst. I hope it was enjoyable for you, though.

    1. There's a serving of humor to balance the angst ;)

  2. I love these type of tales, with people stuck in a rut and discovering a way out. So inspirational. "a series of internal earthquakes" - I can relate to that.

    1. It's inspiring to me to see a woman actively work her way through a difficult situation -realize that what she's doing isn't working, and _change_ what she's doing.