Open House

What’s it about?

A woman whose husband abruptly leaves her decides that rather than selling their house, she will keep it and rent out rooms to boarders. This novel, which was an Oprah pick, is about finding the gifts inside yourself that you’ve ignored or not been aware of. It emphasizes the fact that sometimes it takes a tragedy to get you to the best place you can be.

Open House was a CBS movie starring Christine Lahti and Daniel Baldwin, (and came in first in the Nielsen ratings!). People always seem to want to know what the Oprah experience was like. In a single word: fantastic. A longer answer is this: I was living in Boston, trying to decide whether or not to move to Chicago. I thought, I need a sign, and (this is really true) the phone rang. It was one of Oprah’s producers giving me the happy news. Here’s something I’ll bet you already know: Oprah sells books. And she is kind, easy-going, smart and easy to talk to. And honest! I think one reason so many people like her is that she says what many of us are thinking, and asks what we want to know.

What was the inspiration?

Open House Book Cover
Random House – 2000

Oh, this is such a strange story. The first novel I wrote was this one, but after I turned it in, I realized I didn’t like it and I told my editor I wanted to do another book instead (which turned out to be Range of Motion). Later, I went back to this book, rewrote it, added some new material, and voila. It just goes to show you: don’t abandon a project if you think there’s anything salvageable in it.


“I dress to bring in the morning paper. The new me. I once read that Martha Stewart never wears a bathrobe. Not that I like Martha Stewart, nobody likes Martha Stewart. I don’t think even Martha Stewart likes Martha Stewart. Which actually makes me like her.”

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