Elizabeth Berg has many, many fans who will be very happy with her latest novel, OPEN HOUSE. This time her protagonist, Samantha, watches her husband pack up his stuff and, with no further discussion, leave their house, their marriage, and their son. What does Sam do with her broken heart and open credit cards? Well, she hits Tiffany's and spends thousands of dollars on a silver service that she doesn't really need. Her first reaction to her newfound freedom is to change the way she lives: flowers on trays, and breakfast in bed for her son --- elegance all around. However, this flight of fancy doesn't last long when her soon-to-be-ex closes off her accounts; and instead, she is forced to take in boarders and recreate her life in ways she would have otherwise thought unimaginable.
All through OPEN HOUSE the reader gets the sense that everything is going to be okay. Maybe it's Sam's sense of humor, her ability to say exactly what she is feeling, her devotion to her son, or her friends' abilities to make her feel better. There is never a real sense of portending doom --- rather, we wait to see exactly what wonderful things Sam is going to find out about herself and what adventures she is going to find herself in now that she's out of a loveless match that was clearly holding her back.
Like a less philosophical Anne Tyler, Berg manages to offer us a main character that we can all relate to. She could be anybody that we know, anywhere in the United States. This Everywoman moves forward because she knows she has to, for the sake of her son and herself (but herself second, of course --- she is a contemporary American woman, after all!). Sam's resilience and witty banter makes OPEN HOUSE a fun and easy read with great heart and open mind. Old fans and new will certainly enjoy this inspirational book.
Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 22, 2011