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Open House

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  46,821 Ratings  ·  1,335 Reviews
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
Paperback, Oprah's Book Club, 272 pages
Published May 1st 2001 by Ballantine Books (first published 2000)
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Oprah's Book Club Picks
48th out of 77 books — 1,998 voters
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Best Women's Fiction Novels
50th out of 1,346 books — 1,212 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jul 27, 2007 Beth rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: a retard
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.
Jun 10, 2008 Suede rated it did not like it
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
Dec 07, 2008 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
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
Jul 11, 2008 Roxy rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 31, 2010 Molly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I finished this book in a matter of days, and though the story was engaging enough it was more because I had been slogging through some heavy non-fiction for a month prior to this read. I think my brain just sucked up the words greedily like a kid with candy on Halloween because it was easier fare.

This is my first Berg book and I have seen her work touted all about the book blogosphere. She does have a way with making everyday simple actions, settings and emotions quite remarkable and relatable
Feb 21, 2009 Kim rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2009
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 ...more
Mar 06, 2009 Jess rated it liked it
I didn't want to read this book at first-- it seemed too depressing, the theme of divorce. I come from a split marriage, so it's a topic I kind of like to avoid. I was pulled, though, for some reason. The first couple of chapters were a bit depressing and difficult to get through, but by chapter four, I was hooked and wanted to keep reading to see how Sam, the main character, would develop throughout the pages. Berg did an amazing job at character and plot development, but she could have incorpo ...more
Oct 22, 2009 Shannan rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
This was an Oprah's Book Club book so I had high expectations going in. It was okay...a book about a woman going through a divorce. I thought the author captured the emotions of the main character very realistically. We women are strong and brave one minute then crying on the floor in a self defeated heap the next. That part I really connected with. But the story line was predictable and cliche...and I am so tired of books and movies celebrating couples who divorce and then "find" themselves and ...more
Oct 14, 2009 Lynne rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Nov 10, 2009 Becky rated it really liked it
I like Elizabeth Berg, her books have kind of crept right up on me and grabbed me. I like her character's eccentricities (even though if I knew them in real life I'd find them annoying)and the analogies she uses (example: "I save his confidence in me as though his words were silver dollars, knotted in a silk scarf and kept hidden in a dresser drawer". Just lovely, poignant imagery.

In this novel Sam (Samantha) is on a tail-spin after her husband abruptly leaves her and their son, Travis. She act
Tracey Hudson
Feb 02, 2010 Tracey Hudson rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Jul 25, 2010 Sterlingcindysu rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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.
Sep 20, 2010 Brian rated it really liked it
This is a novel about a woman who is forced to recreate her life after her husband leaves her. Until his desertion she's been a contented housewife and mother to her eleven year old son. Now she has to learn to stand on her own two feet, get a job and take in lodgers to survive.

In a style that is reminiscent of Anne Tyler, Elizabeth Berg forensically examines the distress of a woman whose 'sin' is that she was content with home-making in a world that no longer values such a lifestyle.

There are
Nov 27, 2010 Faydra rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 03, 2011 Trish rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No One
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
Mar 26, 2011 Julie rated it liked it
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 ...more
May 18, 2011 Dylan rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 22, 2011 Alexa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The main character of this book is a little down trodden, a little mopey, and didn't show nearly enough spunk, even at the end, but still, I couldn't help but like her. Her main romantic interest is also likable, and though their romance, such as it is, did not exactly spark a fire in me, it was sweet. I also liked that neither character started out gorgeous or had a major makeover to become gorgeous.

Other than that, there's not a whole lot positive to say. The book reads as more of a chronicle
Aug 17, 2011 Tania rated it really liked it
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
May 17, 2012 Jessica rated it liked it
WAY disappointed by this book. A big part of it is that I love Elizabeth Berg. She is is one of my favorite authors, and the Kate Nash series (Durable Goods, Joy School, True to Form) is one of the best series about growing up I've ever read. Sorry to say, Open House was nowhere near the quality of her many other books.

I had a hard time connecting with Sam, the female lead. She seemed like a pushover with no backbone or even a clue. Very hard to root for someone like that. Nothing in the story
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
Apr 07, 2013 Britany rated it really liked it
Recommended to Britany by: Ginny Tess
Shelves: audiobook
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
Moses Kilolo
Aug 13, 2013 Moses Kilolo rated it really liked it
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
Jan 07, 2015 Connie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
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
May 27, 2015 Leonel rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Jul 02, 2016 Beth rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Aug 07, 2016 Laura rated it did not like it
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 ...more
J.H. Moncrieff
Aug 14, 2016 J.H. Moncrieff rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 28, 2016 Gwenette rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book at a thrift store in Idaho when I was there for a conference. I finished the book I took with me, so I just grabbed this to read on the plane.

I didn't immediately connect with the narrator; she seemed like a lightweight, vengeful toward her soon-to-be ex. And then I saw myself in her. Over and over. And then more. So many of the things that happened to her had happened to me years ago. I still didn't like the narrator, and that sort of scared me, because maybe that meant I
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Well what did you all think? 6 50 Aug 24, 2014 02:21PM  
Oprah's Book Club...: Open House 3 24 Sep 22, 2012 10:27PM  
  • The Treasure Hunt: A Little Bill Book for Beginning Readers, Level 3
  • River, Cross My Heart
  • A Virtuous Woman
  • Here on Earth
  • Songs in Ordinary Time
  • Mother of Pearl
  • Vinegar Hill
  • Back Roads
  • While I Was Gone
  • Gap Creek
  • The Rapture of Canaan
  • What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day (Idlewild, #1)
  • Icy Sparks
  • Jewel
  • The Book of Ruth
  • Drowning Ruth
  • Black and Blue
  • Breath, Eyes, Memory
Elizabeth Berg is the New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including We Are All Welcome Here, The Year of Pleasures, The Art of Mending, Say When, True to Form, Never Change, and Open House, which was an Oprah’s Book Club selection in 2000. Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year, and Talk Before Sleep was short-listed for the ABBY Award in 1996. The w ...more
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“I made cranberry sauce, and when it was done put it into a dark blue bowl for the beautiful contrast. I was thinking, doing this, about the old ways of gratitude: Indians thanking the deer they'd slain, grace before supper, kneeling before bed. 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.” 21 likes
“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.” 12 likes
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