Elizabeth Berg,
Open House: A Novel
(Ballantine, 2001)

There were times, while reading this book, that I had to put it down and walk away. Not because of any fault of the author or the work, but because it was so accurate, so right on with the emotions experienced during a painful divorce that it dredged up memories and emotions that I felt were best left in a psychic closet somewhere, collecting dust.

I don't know if Elizabeth Berg has gone through a divorce of her own or if she's just incredibly insightful, but the main character, Samantha, is one of the most real characters I've encountered on this subject. At one point, she describes wanting to sit in her house and howl, just howl, from the pain and loss, and that, my friends, is about as accurate as you can get.

Obviously, I identify somewhat with the storyline (and oddly enough, just like Sam, my ex is also a David, which made it that much more surreal for me), but beyond that, this is a great story of a woman left behind who does what she can, however she can, to get back on her feet. After David's leaving (and taking up with a young bimbo, again, very close to my own story), Sam's forced to cut through the fog it's left her in, taking on boarders in their home to help pay the bills.

I did feel that at a certain point, the story became predictable. You know from the moment a certain character is introduced that something is going to happen between he and Sam. You just know. How Berg gets to that point is an interesting, convoluted route, however, and it is interesting to read.

Luckily, despite its flaws, Open House is readable and accessible. Though it deals with weighty subject matter, Berg is able to make this no more than light reading (for most) and an enjoyable few hours can be spent with it. It will likely never be in the running for any literary prizes -- the predictability disqualifies it, but for a summer afternoon, it's well worth the cover price.

[ by Elizabeth Badurina ]
Rambles: 29 September 2001

Buy it from Amazon.com.