This month the Blogger 2 Blogger Book Club read Open House by Elizabeth Berg. When I read the description of the book for this month I wasn't so sure about it, but decided to give it a go. After all, I am no quitter! So once again, here I am linking up with Kelly over at Love, Kelly Lorene for May's edition of #Blog2BlogBC!!
Once David has left, Samantha first goes on a spending spree at Tiffany & Co. to drown her sorrows. She knows that she doesn't really want or need any of the stuff, but she goes anyway just to spend David's money. When David finds out and partially cuts her off financially, Samantha decides that in order to stay in the family home she is going to find roommates to rent out the basement and the den. She also decides that she is going to have to find a job, but doesn't know where to start.
When she finally finds her first roommate, with the help of the cashier at the local grocery store, Samantha's life finally starts to turn around. When her "older" roommate, Lydia, moves in, she has this gentleman named King helping her move. King ends up befriending Samantha and really helps her get back on her feet. He drags her out of the house, sets her up with an interview at a job agency and even babysits Travis so that Samantha can appease her mother and start dating again.
Though life continues to give Samantha a lot of ups and downs, she eventually finds her groove and is able to start over. She learns to love herself and realizes that she has so much to give... so much so that when David wants her back, she has the courage and the strength to say no because she truly was better off without him.
This book was definitely not one of my favorites for the most part as everyone knows that I love books with strong female protagonists. Samantha definitely did not fall into that category until the very end of the book, so it took me a very long time to warm up to her. Part of me wonders if I had a problem with this book because it was truly nothing I could relate to. I have never been through a divorce, none of my friends are divorced, and I honestly don't know that many people are divorced so I have zero perspective on what is going on in the relationships in this book. Part of me wonders if this is normal? Part of me wonders if this is an over exaggeration of what happens when people get divorced? Who knows? What I do know is that until the last few chapters I probably would have only given this book 1 star, but by the end I was willing to give it 2.
Now for the #Blog2BlogBC Review Portion of the post. This is where I answer a few discussion questions (3-5 according to the book club rules) about Open House.
one// In the beginning of the book Samantha is unusually obsessed with Martha Stewart. Why do you think this is? What do Martha Stewart and her products seem to offer Samantha? When they finally speak to each other over the phone, Samantha asks Martha Stewart if she fell apart after her divorce. Martha responds, "I didn't fall apart. I spent one evening with Bernstein's Kaddish and a bottle of 'eighty-six Montrachet. And then I got busy. Try it." What do you think of this advice? Did Samantha end up taking it?
Martha Stewart for many seems to represent the perfect house-wife. She has her life together (minus the whole going to jail thing), is super successful, knows how to cook, decorate, and basically do all things home related. By aspiring to be like Martha Stewart, Samantha is attempting to create the perfect home in what I believed to be an effort to get her husband to come back. Samantha seems to feel that if she can do everything perfectly David will realize what he is missing and he will want to come home. When Samantha finally talks to Martha and Martha gives her some advice I think Samantha did listen to her. Martha told her to "get busy" and in reality, sometimes getting busy is the only way to get over a heartache. When you throw yourself into something completely new it helps you to discover just who you are and what you are capable of doing. Samantha does take this advice taking on all sorts of odd jobs from the employment agency and finding out what exactly she is good at.
two// Samantha spends most of the novel wanting her husband back. In the end, she is the one who chooses to remain separated. Why do you think she changes her mind? At what point in the novel do you think she changes her mind? Do you think she is making the right decision?
I think after spending so much time with Lydia, King, her mother and even Rita, Samantha realizes that she is worth more than how her husband was treating her. She realized that she deserved someone who appreciates her for her and doesn't want to change her. She really seems to turn this corner the more she hangs out with King because no matter what he always seemed happy to spend time with her... even if it was Thanksgiving and she was in her sweats shoving her face with food... he was happy to be with her and she could be herself around him. I absolutely think that she made the right decision in not going back to David because the two of them probably would have fallen into the same trap that they did the first time. I feel like Samantha is going to be much happier with King because for once she will be able to be 100% herself because King doesn't expect her to change for anyone, let alone him.
three// Samantha imagines Travis one day saying, "My Mother changed wonderfully when my Father left us. Our circumstances actually improved." Do you think that Samantha changes in the novel? Do you think their circumstances actually improve?
Samantha definitely changed throughout the novel. In the beginning she was a mother and a wife and that seemed to be pretty much how she defined herself. (Now don't get me wrong, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with being a mother and a housewife... I have sooooo many friends who are stay at home parents and I give them all the respect in the world because it is not a walk in the park to be a full-time parent) Outside of her husband and her child Samantha's world just didn't exist, so when her husband decided to leave her, she fell apart. Samantha had nothing to fall back on... no real skills... no job to fall back on... nothing. As the book went on, Samantha discovered that she did have talents and that she didn't need to rely solely on her husband for support, she could do it on her own. I think it was important for Samantha to learn that she could be independent and could support herself and Travis, because it will only make her future relationships stronger because she will be able to be more of an equal with her partner.
Have you read any good books lately? Care to share?