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The Story of Arthur Truluv

Review

The Story of Arthur Truluv

In the six months since his wife Nola’s death, octogenarian Arthur Moses has kept busy. He enjoys doing the kinds of things Nola never let him do (like smoke a cigar at the dinner table and eat cookies in bed), he has grown friendly with his neighbor Lucille, and most days he packs a sandwich and takes the bus to the cemetery to have lunch at Nola’s grave. He misses her desperately, but also has found a way to continue finding happiness in small things.

However, Arthur doesn’t realize how lonely he’s become until he begins interacting with Maddy Harris, a 17-year-old with dyed hair and a nose ring, of all things. Maddy, like Arthur, enjoys spending time at the cemetery, though in her case, she delights in finding small scenes to photograph. One day, their paths cross, and Arthur confesses to Maddy that he can hear the stories of those whose bodies lie beneath his feet, and that he enjoys imagining their lives lived, whether recently or long ago.

"Calling THE STORY OF ARTHUR TRULUV 'heartwarming' doesn’t do it justice; Berg satisfies readers’ hopes but also acknowledges the messy realities of lives and relationships."

Maddy comes off as tough and independent, but she may need Arthur’s help. Like Arthur, she’s lost someone --- in her case, her mother --- and when she learns she’s pregnant, she needs to find an adult who’s more supportive than her grieving father. Arthur, who never had children of his own, finds himself warming to a paternal role with Maddy, and eventually he discovers that it’s never too late to find your purpose in life.

Elizabeth Berg, who has been a perennial book club favorite with novels like OPEN HOUSE and THE ART OF MENDING, pens another winner here. Calling THE STORY OF ARTHUR TRULUV “heartwarming” doesn’t do it justice; Berg satisfies readers’ hopes but also acknowledges the messy realities of lives and relationships. Her narrative, which easily could have traveled down paths of predictability or sentimentality, avoids both, with some surprising plot developments and earthy language that help keep the novel grounded in real life, relatable characterizations and plausible situations.

It’s convenient that THE STORY OF ARTHUR TRULUV is being published right before Thanksgiving; it would make a wonderful gift and, given its relatively slim length, could also offer the opportunity for informal family book discussions during the holidays. As generations of families come together for the holidays, it’s fitting to read and discuss a book that considers --- and celebrates --- what the old and the young have to learn from one another.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on November 21, 2017

The Story of Arthur Truluv
by Elizabeth Berg

  • Publication Date: November 21, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN-10: 1400069904
  • ISBN-13: 9781400069903