Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Story of Arthur Truluv, by Elizabeth Berg ~ my review

The Story of Arthur TruluvSuch a sweet story ~ Arthur Moses, Maddy Harris, and Lucille Howard finding each other, taking care of each other. We all should be so blessed. Author Elizabeth Berg’s novel, The Story of Arthur Truluv, is based in the unpleasant facts that life can be cruel, some people find cruelty entertaining, and loss and longing are profoundly painful. Berg then transforms these lonely sorrows into hope.

Eighty-five-year-old Arthur Moses’ beloved wife Nola dies six months before this novel opens at her grave, with Arthur having his daily lunch with her. Maddy Harris, still painfully alone in the world after her mother’s death and father’s distance, hangs out at the cemetery to avoid her high school classmates’ contempt. Arthur and Maddy strike up a conversation. Meanwhile, Arthur’s next-door neighbor, Lucille, is distraught and depressed at losing her recently reappeared high school beau. Despite their differences, these three people extend simple kindnesses to each other. Friendships are born. Lifesaving friendships. Life-enriching friendships. Second-chance-giving friendships.

I enjoyed reading this uplifting novel. Plus, I always enjoy Elizabeth Berg’s presentation of everyday life. A bonus in The Story of Arthur Truluv happens in the symbolic cemetery. A favorite pastime of Arthur is imagining lives of buried persons from minimal facts on headstones. What he comes up with is classic Berg. For example: “When she read, she liked to be barefoot and she liked to lace her fingers through her toes.” [p. 48] Another excerpt: “Even in old age, he and his wife would load up the car with blankets and lawn chairs and go out to reserve a place in the park while the sky was still a smoky red and the birds had not yet begun to sing.” [p. 49] I very much admire Elizabeth Berg’s creative combination of her powers of observation and imagination.

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