Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg

Helen Ames was a beloved wife and a prolific author.


Since her husband Dan died she no longer feels that she is either.  Unable to move on from his death, Helen is not sure how to do life without him.  Her writing is non existent and a particularity disastrous speaking engagement leaves her wondering what purpose she serves without the titles “wife” and “author”.

Meanwhile, Helen’s 27 year old daughter Tessa is losing patience with her now seemingly helpless and smothering mother.  Tessa longs for branching out into her own life but feels anchored down by her mom’s overbearing neediness.  Tessa is constantly being called upon by Helen to help with the household tasks that used to belong to Dan.

Then Helen discovers that the finances that she never paid much attention too as Dan told her never to worry as there was plenty for her to live on and then some…. these very finances have had a significant withdrawal, made by Dan before he died.  Suddenly Helen has a new set of worries…. what did Dan do with all that money?  How will she now provide for herself when her accountant tells her she needs to be careful financially but seems to have no skills or ambition to learn anything new?

My adventures with Berg continue.  😀

Out of everything I have read/listened to by Elizabeth Berg this one may have been the biggest stretch for me.  And the reason for that is silly.  It’s Helen.

Helen has qualities I just don’t like.  She is co dependent.  Needy and unsure of herself in every way and for some reason these characteristics…..

bug me.

I know that is ridiculous and I wonder what I find in myself that makes me want women, fiction and not, to be strong, independent, and able to stand on their own two feet.

Ok… that said, I did enjoy listening to this on audio and applaud Elizabeth Berg for not only being an amazing prolific writer, but also reader.  I have really come to enjoy her audios and when she reads them herself – even better.  I can not say that about every author I have listened to on audio that has read their own work.

While Helen is this character that is not sure which way to turn  – I am quite sure she is exactly the character that Elizabeth Berg meant her to be.  You can hear it is Elizabeth’s (as the narrator) voice and I wish I had a couple examples in my head right now of that dialogue that Helen would have as she pretty much questioned every step she took.  Unfortunately, one of the down falls of audio is that I do not have the pages to flip back through to make that perfect quote so you can go “oh yeah…. I see what you mean.”

As the story line continues you see that Helen does start to find her own way and her relationship with Tessa is very realistic as Tessa tries hard to be patient with her mom while at the same time trying to get her mom to be responsible for her own life and making things happen.  One of the things I really enjoyed in this audio was how often Tessa came to this point:

“Mom.  Mom.  Mom.  MOM.”

I think I may have loved this even more because it is said in a dead pan voice.

Final thoughts:  I did enjoy this audio.  It was not a favorite from this author mainly because some of the plot created many unanswered questions… I did however still appreciate the diversity in writing that I have come to enjoy in Elizabeth Berg’s work.

Amazon Rating

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading Map has been updated to include Safely Home

This audio was rented from my local library

25 thoughts on “Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg

  1. I would lose patience very quickly, I’m afraid. People who won’t just brush themselves off and get on with life annoy me no end. We all have tragedies in our lives but giving up is NOT the way to deal with them.

    1. I feel awful for thinking that way…. but I do a bit of that too… not so much get up and move on…. but really I like characters that can see the opportunities in learning to take care of oneself. On the flip of that … thsi book made me think that I really should know more about our company and what to do if something terrible did happen in my own life.

  2. I am totally with you on the strong female characters! I have a hard time liking books that don’t have them. I do love Berg though and might still want to check this one out.

  3. Yes, Helen was very needy…I, too, find myself not having patience with women who allow themselves to be dependent on their husbands. When tragedy comes, they are so much more lost than those who have borne their share of the responsibilities. Especially the financial ones.

    That aspect of audio would frustrate me too…I like being able to turn back pages and check things out.

    1. Laurel I read some blogs where they quote parts of the book that spoke to them and I like that and if Ic an, try to do that too – but of course in audio….unless I am driving and writing – I am probably not going to capture the moment 😀

  4. Another Berg character who has bothered you. It seems like she has a lot of widows in her novels and ones that aren’t strong women. I love audiobooks but it has to be pretty spot on with the narrator for me to finish one.

  5. I’m working my way through the book club pick by Berg: The Last Time I Saw You and am really enjoying it. It seems like Berg is really great at creating very diverse characters.

    I get what you mean about preferring strong women. i find myself feeling the same way: in the books I pick and in real life. Perhaps it is just the drive and strength in ourselves that we want to see other women embrace as well?

  6. I haven’t read this one yet, Sheila, but form your description, I think I would be annoyed by the main character, too! I have the same reaction to whiny, needy women in books. I guess you and I must be strong women, huh?

    Thanks for the review!


  7. I felt the same way about Helen when I listened to this last year. Not my favorite Berg book either, but I still love her!

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