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About The Book

Ellen, he thought, and the name seemed to him to hold everything he might possibly want to say to her....He looked at her lying on her side of the bed, looked too at the space she had left beside her. That was his side, because he was her husband. And she was his wife."
Griffin is a happy man. Settled comfortably in a Chicago suburb, he adores his eight-year-old daughter, Zoe, and his wife, Ellen -- shy, bookish Ellen, who is as dependable as she is dependent on him for his stability and his talent for gently controlling the world they inhabit. But when he wakes one morning to hear of his wife's love affair with another man and her request for a divorce, Griffin's view of life is irrevocably altered. Overnight he goes from being Ellen's husband to being her roommate, from a lover to a man denied passion and companionship. Now he must either move on or fight for his marriage, forgive his wife or condemn her for her betrayal, deny or face up to his part in the sudden undoing of his seemingly perfect life.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Open House and True to Form comes a brilliant novel that charts the days and nights of a family whose normalcy has been shattered. With startling clarity and a trademark blend of humor and poignancy, Say When follows a man on an emotional journey to redefine his notions about love and happiness and asks questions relevant to any contemporary couple: when is a relationship worth saving and when is it better to let it go? Might a man and a woman define betrayal differently? How honest are we with those to whom we are ostensibly closest?
Searingly honest, Say When is an engaging and memorable story that takes readers into the heart of a modern marriage, where intimacy and love, denial and pain, so often collide.

About The Author

Photograph © Teresa Crawford

Elizabeth Berg is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including the New York Times bestsellers True to FormNever ChangeOpen HouseThe Story of Arthur TruluvNight of Miracles, and The Confession Club. She lives outside of Chicago. Find out more at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (June 3, 2003)
  • Length: 272 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780743421829

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Raves and Reviews

“While the tone is generally light, the insights presented are profound, and Berg has created realistic characters who are ultimately committed to making their marriage work despite the tough road that lies ahead. Sure to resonate with many readers.”

– Library Journal

“These days, separation and divorce are commonplace, but a book that treats those subjects with Berg’s tenderness and understanding is not . . . Berg’s novels are high-quality comfort food, and sell accordingly. In returning to the theme of divorce, which she explored in the bestselling Oprah pick, Open House, she is on particularly solid ground.”

– Publishers Weekly

“Berg masterfully explores how meaning infuses details of daily life . . . [Her] dialogue hits a perfect pitch.”

– Associated Press

“Berg’s story gives us a hero who will have you pulling for the squabbling pair to patch things up.”

– Lifetime Magazine

“[A] deft and seamless novel . . . In her large and impressive body of work . . . Berg has explored the emotional elasticity of domestic relationships. This time out, she stretches that elastic just about as far as it can go . . . Her prose is as fluid as ever, her ear as finely tuned to the clipped exchanges between husband and wife.”

– The Boston Globe

“[A]nything but predictable . . . [A] novel of domestic upheaval anchored in homely detail.”

– The Boston Herald

“[T]old through the voice of a male character . . . [i]t’s a stretch—and it’s another winner.”

– The Denver Post

“With masterful dialogue both poignant and funny, [Elizabeth] Berg places readers at the heart of this family.”

– Dallas Morning News

“Berg’s dialogue hits perfect pitch, from the sometimes tender, sometimes hurtful words exchanged between Griffin and Ellen to Zoe’s appropriately italicized preteen quips.”

– Canadian Press Newswire

“[A] sweet, humorous novel about loss and reconciliation . . . This novel continues Berg’s run of one-of-a-kind novels.”

– Birmingham Times

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