Open House, by Elizabeth Berg

Cover ImageFinished listening to on 6-27-08, rating 3.5/5, fiction, pub. 2000

“There were just families yelling at their kids not to drown and teenagers walking around like billboards, acting as if their bodies would never change.They’re so oblivious to the fact that they’ll get older.  Sometimes I want to grab them and say, ‘Hey!  I used to look like you!  Ha-ha-HA!!'”

“Yes,” Lydia says.  “That’s what I want to say to you sometimes.”  She sips her tea.

My God.  Of course that must be true.  Of course it must!  What’s a little cellulite next to a face full of deep wrinkles?  What’s a face full of deep wrinkles next to infirmity?  When does the time come when you stand in front of your grown-up woman’s mirror and feel contentment for what you see there?  Ever?—Chapter 12

Sam is a 42 year old mother, daughter, best friend, and soon to be ex-wife.  She has never had to support herself and 12 year old son, Travis, and has decided that the best way to do this is to take in boarders at her large suburban home.  Travis is not crazy about the idea and everybody else just thinks she’s crazy.  First there’s mature Lydia, then sad Lavender, and finally fabulous Edward.

She goes on a shopping spree at Tiffany’s.  She calls Martha Stewart and Martha calls her back.  She makes new friends.  She goes on a date.  And most importantly, she stops crying.

I love the rare simplicity of Elizabeth Berg’s writing and her ability to tell a story with real depth in such a concise and readable way.  Her characters are always recognizable as someone you know or might meet someday.  This story of a woman facing life after divorce is a triumph.  I’ve read quite a few of Berg’s books and by the end I always feel as if I’ve gained some insight. This is no exception.