Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg


Title: Home Safe

Author: Elizabeth Berg

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 258

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Geographical Setting: Chicago Suburb

Time Period: Present Day

Series: N/A

Plot Summary:

Helen Ames is recently widowed and trying to adjust.  She had been fortunate enough to have a stable marriage and a husband who had been a partner in every sense.  She had a fulfilling career as a writer, but recently hasn’t been able to write.  She’s had no inspiration, no desire and no compelling need to push herself to write. She’s been filling her time by interfering in her adult daughter’s life and depending on her for companionship, household repairs and advice until she gets a phone call from her accountant with the shocking news that her husband withdrew all their retirement savings, in cash, before he died.

Appeal Terms: measured, steady, closely observed characters, insightful, introspective, lifelike, realistic and recognizable, character-centered, thought provoking, contemporary, detailed setting, urban, candid, contemplative, earnest, hopeful and humorous, thoughtful, chatty, conversational, engaging, frank, natural.

Three terms that best describe this book: thoughtful, character driven, introspective.

Subject Headings: Widows — Chicago, Illinois, Mother and daughter, Life change events, Family secrets, Self-discovery in women,
Parent and adult child, Family relationships, Household finances, Chicago, Illinois, Psychological fiction, Domestic fiction, Women’s lives and relationships

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Ruby: a novel by Ann Hood traces the journey of a recent widow struggling with grief as she befriends a pregnant teenager.  Their friendship blossoms as they share lessons learned while coping with their individual crises.

Object Lessons by Anna Quindlen explores issues of family and friendships as life’s changes affect an entire family and secrets are unearthed.

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo is a novel sharing the theme of reassessing one’s life from a man’s point of view. While attending a wedding in the town where he vacationed as a child with his parents, Jack Griffin reflects on his relationships with his wife, his daughter and his parents.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
A guide to Oak Park’s Frank Lloyd Wright and Prairie School Historic District published by the Oak Park Historic Preservation Commission, Village of Oak Park, 1999 presents beautiful photographs of sections of Oak Park.

The Art of War for Writers: Fiction Writing Strategies, Tactics, and Exercises by James Scott Bell is reviewed as a must for all beginning writers.

Escaping into the open: the art of writing true by Elizabeth Berg is Berg’s own story of how she grew from a working mother to a published author.  The book offers advice to encourage writers to create stories that come from the heart.

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