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Home Safe

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  10,690 ratings  ·  1,429 reviews
In this new novel, beloved bestselling author Elizabeth Berg weaves a beautifully written and richly resonant story of a mother and daughter in emotional transit. Helen Ames–recently widowed, coping with loss and grief, unable to do the work that has always sustained her–is beginning to depend far too much on her twenty-seven-year-old daughter, Tessa, and is meddling in he ...more
Hardcover, 260 pages
Published May 4th 2009 by Random House (NY) (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,690 ratings  ·  1,429 reviews

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Apr 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 4000-books
This is quite a short book about an author called Helen who has lost her Muse and apparently most of her common sense in the year since her husband died. She is a very irritating main character and I did not feel sympathetic towards her at all. This detracted somewhat from my enjoyment of the story. Fortunately there were other more likeable characters and a few interesting things happened. I skimmed a bit here and there when Helen started dwelling on her own issues and in the end I was very hap ...more
Dec 29, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: novel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 17, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I received this book for free, as a sort of promotional Nook was doing. I felt kind of cheap and decided I would get this, instead of one of the books I had planned on.

What a mistake.... but before I get into subject analysis and general ranting, here are the technical specs.

Most of the writing is in third person present tense. At first it's awkward to read in present tense, but you get use to it. It appears to be written this way so as to make easy transitions from past and present
Dec 29, 2009 rated it did not like it
I've heard this is not a typical Elizabeth Berg story, but this is my first, and, from the writing, it could be my last. Incidentally, I have been informed (by a rather nasty reviewer), to put a Spoiler tag here. So, here it is! SPOILER ALERT.

The book seemed to lack plot or point; the main character, Helen was so unlikeable -- needy, non-self-reflective in any way, no sense of self, critical, empty, and lacking any EQ, that I felt sorry for her daughter and parents, and angry and irr
Elizabeth Vanderesch
Elizabeth Berg's books tend to be those I refer to as "brain resting" books. Not to say that the characters aren't real or developed nicely, it's just that they are a whole lot like that pair of pajama pants that are definitely not for public viewing. Her books are comfortable and cozy and not at all surprising in any way. Sometimes a girl needs a book like that. In Home Safe: A Novel , I felt so often that Berg is becoming more and more autobiographical in her character development. There was a ...more
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012
When I first picked up an Elizabeth Berg novel, I was so intrigued. I read the entire thing in a day, I had a special connection to the characters, I loved the intimate details of feminine life, and I wanted to be like all of her protagonists when I grew up. I gave the books to my mom, we discussed how much we loved them, and I was convinced that this is what adult women were like.

Fast forward 15 years ahead, and this book actually made me ANGRY in how little i could relate to the ch
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I’m now officially a fan of Elizabeth Berg. This is my second book and I finished it in 3 days. I guess Berg has a gift in hooking readers with her natural storytelling style.

Home Safe is about a novelist and a widow who can’t get over the death of her husband. While the theme may sound depressing, Berg managed to tell Helen’s life without too much weight in the heart. It’s not like I’d get to almost choke with tears but there were moments in the book that I truly felt for Helen. ...more
May 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Heather, Lesley, Kay, Diana, Stephanie, Maya, June
Recommended to Alissa by: Kay got me hooked on her books
I'm always ashamed to admit how much I like Elizabeth Berg's books. I mean, really--they're corny, with a lot of rumination about the small pleasures in life. Which, yeah, ok, I have to admit: I'm kinda the same way--I just don't talk about how much I love the iridescence of a scrub jay's wings. Maybe Elizabeth Berg is just the part of myself I'd never let anyone see because I'd be too freakin' embarrassed.

Anyway. I read this book in a day and a half, and that was even with Charlie s
May 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
I always look forward to a new work by Elizabeth Berg which is why I devoured it, gulping it when I should have probably done more sipping and savoring. The plot, a middle-aged widow with writer's block discovers a secret her husband kept from her, and a secret she has kept from herself about who she is and what she is truly capable of, is classic Berg. I didn't particularly care for Helen. Her relationship with her daughter, Tessa, made me want to smack her up-side the head on several occasions ...more
Feb 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
In Elizabeth Berg’s newest novel “Home Safe,” we are almost immediately plunged into the world of loss. It begins in the preface, when, as a nine-year-old girl, Helen Ames experiences the death of a classmate: she describes everything she sees, up close, from the hands on a wristwatch to the top of the mother’s head and the sound of her weeping – and completely immersed in this experience, she becomes obsessed with these details. And then she describes: “Nothing helped until the day she took a t ...more
Sep 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Elizabeth Berg's books are really good. I'm enjoying novels by women these days. This was a mother-daughter story of a recently widowed woman who is overprotective of her 27-year-old daughter. The mother's own mother gives her excellent advice from older times: "We didn't need to air all our dirty laundry and run to therapists every five minutes. Life comes with problems. You just have to accept that. And you have to try to lead the simple life; to not constantly ask questions about the whys and ...more
K. L. Petersen
Berg's writing was warm and simple, with perfectly timed moments of radiance. I think you could feel her love for her characters. I would describe the book as effortlessly charming, even elegant. It's the kind of novel you read, not be challenged or teased or even entertained, but to relax. The kind of book you grab while you're wrapped in a blanket, holding a hot cup of tea, and want to read something honest and kind about life, love and loss. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone though. Some of ...more
Stephanie Koke
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
I didn't particularly like the first book I read by Elizabeth Berg (The Pull of the Moon) but I thought I'd give her another chance. I wish I hadn't. Although I do like the author's writing style, I just don't like her characters at all. Helen Ames is so pathetically inept and ditzy that I can't relate to her at all. I mean, I like characters with weaknesses, because that makes them more interesting and realistic, but this woman is an embarrassment to the female species! Calling 911 when she has ...more
Sandy T
Apr 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2010
I've read several of Elizabeth Berg's books because I love her thoughtful discriptions of everyday ordinary life. But I keep waiting to really LOVE one of them, and it just hasn't happened yet. I did love this quote about books though:

"When Suzie introduced Helen, she told the audience that one of the best things about books is that they are an interactive art form: that while the author may describe in some detail how a character looks, it is the reader's imagination that completes
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I bought this book when it first came out, but the reviews that I read put me off it and it's been sitting on my bookshelf ever since. Now that I've finally read it, I'm sorry I waited so long. It's a lovingly written, thought provoking book about moving on after you've lost your partner, and redefining what your "home safe" place will be.

Helen Ames is in her late 50s and a successful author. She is recently widowed and is struggling to cope without her husband, Dan. She is becoming
May 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama
Sometimes books present themselves to us at special times of our lives and we love them because there is something particularly timely to us. I love Elizabeth Berg since Pull of the Moon, Open House and Durable Goods but this book was timely to me because my mother just died and she was a woman a lot like Helen. Home Safe is a story about a woman whose husband died and she is forced to grapple with no only the loneliness of losing a marriage but the loss of a man who took care of life, paying th ...more
May 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009-books
I like the depth of Elizabeth Berg's characters even if I can't identify with the characters, which is the case with this book. The main character is Helen, a woman nearing 60, a writer whose husband suddenly drops dead. There is a mystery - he withdraws most of their savings without telling her. If this was an Anita Shreve or Jodi Picoult, it would be for nefarious purposes.
I can't identify with Helen much. She strikes me as self-indulgent and weak. I did squirm uncomfortably at how interferin
Mar 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
Painful to read. I disliked the main character so much that I wanted to reach in the book and smack her!
Havebooks Willread
While this book wasn't as enjoyable as other Berg books I've read, it did serve its purpose: to provide a little escape from real life. I could really identify with the love and appreciation for the written word which was woven through the pages of this novel.

"She opens the novel again, reads one page, another. Then another. And finally, everything in her own life surrenders to the one being presented here. . .Dan once had a friend who died from metastatic cancer. Toward the end, Dan visited h
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
I don't really dislike books very often, but this one is a "dislike" for me. I would probably give this a 1.5 stars because the writing is not hideously bad, I just did not find the story enjoyable at all.

This book is what my husband and I call a "lady book". It's as close as I comfortably get to a "beach read", but far from romance novel. It's the kind of book I probably would have liked in high school because I thought it would make me seem sophisticated or grown up.

The story focu
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Helen is a 50 something widowed author who is still trying to find her way a year after her husband’s death. She cannot do the most basic things around the house relying instead on her 27-year-old daughter Tessa and she has not been able to write at all. When she finds out the nest egg she thought would support her financially is gone, having been taken out of the bank by her husband before his death, she has no idea what to think. She takes a job teaching a writing workshop and the eccentric st ...more
Jun 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
I've told you before that Elizabeth Berg is my favorite author. I don't think I could ever read a book by her that disappoints! This novel is about a 59-year-old writer, Helen Ames, who is recently widowed and trying to now fend for herself, and is battling writer's block. Her 27-year-old daughter lives in the same city and Helen depends on her too much and meddles in her life as well. One day Helen discovers her husband was seemingly leading a double life and had withdrawn a huge amount of mone ...more
Linda Bewley
May 06, 2014 rated it liked it
This book received many conflicting reviews. Personally, it made me think about lots of things that I'd rather not face, like the sudden death of my spouse, how that would change my relationship with my children and how I would now have to handle all the day to day things that were always taken care of for me. I felt that many of the negative reviews were written by women who, for one reason or another, had to rely solely on themselves and therefore could not relate to Helen's situation. One rev ...more
Donna Craig
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oh, I love Elizabeth Berg. Her books always leave me quietly contemplating my own life at the end. I can’t move for a while after I finish them. In Home Safe, I really related to Helen, who has always been in a safe, protected place thanks to her husband’s love and care. She has enjoyed allowing Dan to take care of many of the difficulties of life. Now, In their middle age, Dan has unexpectedly died, right before retirement. Helen is left to deal with life’s issues, little and big, on her own. I ...more
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
This lovely book tells of the anguish and self-doubt that Helen Ames, a writer, feels following the sudden death of her husband of many years. She has depended on Dan for so many things, emotional support, looking after their finances and all the many minor things needed for the upkeep of their home. He was the one who would fix a leaky toilet or set the thermostat while she was completely clueless about these. Now that he has gone she realizes how completely lost she is without him and their 27 ...more
Barbara Carter
Apr 28, 2019 rated it liked it

Needing a break, I turn to some lighter reading.
I’d picked this novel up at a used bookstore, familiar with Elizabeth Berg, having read several of her other books. But she’s not an author that I feel the need to go out and buy everything she writes.
I have her book Escaping into the Open: the art of writing true, which I love. Great tips on writing and a great personal story of how she became a writer.
Back to this book: home safe. It is a like a quiet car drive through the country, e
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gentleman scribblers take note: THIS how you write an unlikable protagonist. Her flaws are obvious, they hold her back from things, her community is aware of them and reacts variously but negatively to them. She is a human person who is bad at adulting and bad at other stuff. NB she is not malicious or so stunted as to fall naturally into dangerous or antisocial behavior. She does not pose very much of a threat to anyone with even rudimentary emotional and communication skills. She has accomplis ...more
Kelly Bell
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. I felt the description on the book jacket was misleading, so be aware that there isn’t as much of a mystery going on as the summary suggests.
Helen was a bit irritating at times, her lack of being able to make decisions frustrating, but I think that’s because she and I are different. I still felt for her and wanted things to work out well for her.
The book is one you could read in one day and find yourself escaping into. I didn’t stop to look at my phone too often, which mea
Joanne Bellet
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I want to read a book that is well-written and thought-provoking and a quick read at the same time, Elizabeth Berg is my go-to. This one gave me a lot to think about, but I found it a bit heavier than most of her books. Maybe because I could identify with the main character’s inability to move forward with her life after losing her husband...reminded me of my mom!
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Home Safe 1 3 May 15, 2013 09:05PM  

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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 winner of the 1997 New England Booksellers Award for her body of wo ...more
“books are like confort food without the calories” 39 likes
“She sits down and puts her hand to her chest and rocks. Thinks of all she has lost and will lose. All she has had and will have. It seems to her that life is like gathering berries into an apron with a hole. Why do we keep on? Because the berries are beautiful, and we must eat to survive. We catch what we can. We walk past what we lose for the promise of more, just ahead.” 27 likes
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