The new arrival Story online of Arthur Truluv: A Novel sale

The new arrival Story online of Arthur Truluv: A Novel sale

The new arrival Story online of Arthur Truluv: A Novel sale
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Product Description

“I dare you to read this novel and not fall in love with Arthur Truluv. His story will make you laugh and cry, and will show you a love that never ends, and what it means to be truly human.”—Fannie Flagg

An emotionally powerful novel about three people who each lose the one they love most, only to find second chances where they least expect them

“Fans of Meg Wolitzer, Emma Straub, or [Elizabeth] Berg’s previous novels will appreciate the richly complex characters and clear prose. Redemptive without being maudlin, this story of two misfits lucky to have found one another will tug at readers’ heartstrings.”—Booklist

For the past six months, Arthur Moses’s days have looked the same: He tends to his rose garden and to Gordon, his cat, then rides the bus to the cemetery to visit his beloved late wife for lunch. The last thing Arthur would imagine is for one unlikely encounter to utterly transform his life. 

Eighteen-year-old Maddy Harris is an introspective girl who visits the cemetery to escape the other kids at school. One afternoon she joins Arthur—a gesture that begins a surprising friendship between two lonely souls. Moved by Arthur’s kindness and devotion, Maddy gives him the nickname “Truluv.” As Arthur’s neighbor Lucille moves into their orbit, the unlikely trio band together and, through heartache and hardships, help one another rediscover their own potential to start anew.

Wonderfully written and full of profound observations about life, The Story of Arthur Truluv is a beautiful and moving novel of compassion in the face of loss, of the small acts that turn friends into family, and of the possibilities to achieve happiness at any age.

Look for a sneak peek of Elizabeth Berg’s delightful new novel, Night of Miracles, in the back of the book.

“For several days after [finishing The Story of Arthur Truluv], I felt lifted by it, and I found myself telling friends, also feeling overwhelmed by 2017, about the book. Read this, I said, it will offer some balance to all that has happened, and it is a welcome reminder we’re all neighbors here.” Chicago Tribune

“Not since Paul Zindel’s classic The Pigman have we seen such a unique bond between people who might not look twice at each other in real life. This small, mighty novel offers proof that they should.” People, Book of the Week

Review

“For several days after [finishing The Story of Arthur Truluv], I felt lifted by it, and I found myself telling friends, also feeling overwhelmed by 2017, about the book. Read this, I said, it will offer some balance to all that has happened, and it is a welcome reminder we’re all neighbors here.” Chicago Tribune
 
“Not since Paul Zindel’s classic The Pigman have we seen such a unique bond between people who might not look twice at each other in real life. This small, mighty novel offers proof that they should.” People, Book of the Week
 
“Charming . . . Truluv is a novel for these contentious times. We could all use a bit of Arthur’s ego-free understanding and forgiveness of fellow human beings. When the inevitable happens in this heartwarming novel, good luck convincing yourself that the lump in your throat is just a sympathy response to one of Gordon [the cat]’s hairballs.” USA Today
 
“I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with these lovable people in [Elizabeth] Berg’s world of unabashed optimism. Sometimes that’s just what’s needed.” Minneapolis Star Tribune
  
“Berg is always good, but this novel is so, so good. I could not put it down. It’s so beautiful about people and life.” Publishers Weekly
 
“The sweet, sentimental tale of an elderly man and a teenager coming into each other’s lives at just the right moment . . . In the vein of Fannie Flagg, this life-affirming story is a definite choice for Berg’s many fans and anyone looking for a little break from the darker novels that have been so popular lately.” Library Journal

“Fans of Meg Wolitzer, Emma Straub, or [Elizabeth] Berg’s previous novels will appreciate the richly complex characters and clear prose. Redemptive without being maudlin, this story of two misfits lucky to have found one another will tug at readers’ heartstrings.” Booklist

“Elizabeth Berg’s characters jump right off the page and into your heart. I dare you to read this novel and not fall in love with Arthur Truluv. His story will make you laugh and cry, and will show you a love that never ends, and what it means to be truly human.” —Fannie Flagg, author of The Whole Town’s Talking
 
“I don''t know if I’ve ever read a more affecting book about the natural affinity between the young and the elderly than Elizabeth Berg’s The Story of Arthur Truluv. It makes the rest of us—strivers and preeners and malcontents—seem almost irrelevant.” —Richard Russo, author of Everybody’s Fool
 
“Elizabeth Berg reminds us of both the richness of any human life and the heart’s needed resilience.” —Jane Hirshfield, author of The Beauty: Poems

About the Author

Elizabeth Berg is the author of many bestselling novels, including Open House (an Oprah’s Book Club selection), Talk Before Sleep, and The Year of Pleasures, as well as the short story collection The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted. Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year. She adapted The Pull of the Moon into a play that enjoyed sold-out performances in Chicago and Indianapolis. Berg’s work has been translated into twenty-seven languages, and three of her novels have been turned into television movies. She is the founder of Writing Matters, a quality reading series dedicated to serving author, audience, and community. She teaches one-day writing workshops and is a popular speaker at venues around the country. Some of her most popular Facebook postings have been collected in Make Someone Happy. She lives outside Chicago.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

In the six months since the November day that his wife, Nola, was buried, Arthur Moses has been having lunch with her every day. He rides the bus to the cemetery and when he gets there, he takes his sweet time walking over to her plot: she will be there no matter when he arrives. She will be there and be there and be there.

Today he lingers near the headstone of Adelaide Marsh, two rows over from Nola, ten markers down. Adelaide was born April 3, 1897, died November 18, 1929. Arthur does the math, slowly. Thirty-two. Then he calculates again, because he thinks it would be wrong to stand near someone’s grave thinking about how old they were the day they died and be off by a year. Or more. Math has always been difficult for Arthur, even on paper; he describes himself as numerically illiterate. Nola did the checkbook, but now he does. He tries, anyway; he gets out his giant-size calculator and pays a great deal of attention to what he’s doing, he doesn’t even keep the radio on, but more often than not he ends up with astronomically improbable sums. Sometimes he goes to the bank and they help him, but it’s an embarrassment and an inconvenience. “We all have our gifts,” Nola used to say, and she was right. Arthur’s gift is working the land; he was a groundskeeper for the parks before he retired many years ago. He still keeps a nice rose garden in the front of his house; the vegetable garden in the back he has let go.

But yes, thirty-two is how old Adelaide Marsh was when she died. Not as heartbreakingly young as the children buried here, but certainly not yet old. In the middle, that’s what she was. In the middle of raising her family (Beloved Mother on her tombstone) and then what? Death, of course, but how? Was it childbirth? He thinks that she was doing something in the service of her family, that she was healthy until the moment she died, and then succumbed to an accident or a sudden insult to the body. He also thinks she had bright red hair that she wore up, and tiny tendrils escaped to frame her face, which pleased both her and her husband. He feels he knows this.

It is happening more and more often, this kind of thing. It is happening more and more that when he stands beside a grave, his hat in his hand, part of a person’s life story reaches him like the yeasty scent from the bakery he passes every day on his way to the bus stop. He stares at the slightly depressed earth over Adelaide’s grave and here comes the pretty white lace dress she loved best, the inequality in the size of her eyes so light brown they were almost yellow. Tea-colored. It comes that her voice was high and clear, that she was shy to sing for her husband, but did so anyway. She did it at night, after they’d gone to bed; the night before she died, she lay in the darkness beside him and sang “Jeannine, I Dream of Lilac Time.”

And now this: she had a small diamond ring that was her mother’s engagement ring, and Adelaide wore it on a thin gold chain around her neck. It was too small for her finger, and besides, she wanted to keep it close to her heart. Her knuckles were reddened from bleach, her back bothered her from bending over the washtub to scrub her children clean, but she would let no one else do it; she loved the sight of them wet, their curly hair now plastered straight against their skulls, their cheeks pinkened by the warmth of the water; she loved the way she could hold them close for a long time, like babies, when they stepped out of the water and into her arms, into the blue towel she opened to them like a great bird spreading its wings. No. The towel was not blue. What color was it?

What color was it?

Nothing. That’s it for today. Arthur puts his hat back on his head, tips it toward Adelaide Marsh’s headstone, and moves along. Horace Newton. Estelle McNeil. Irene Sutter. Amos Hammer.

When he reaches Nola’s grave, Arthur opens his fold-up chair and gingerly sits down. The legs of the chair sink a little way into the earth, and he steadies himself, making sure the thing won’t move any more before he spreads his lunch out onto his lap. An egg salad sandwich he has today, real eggs and real mayonnaise, his doctor be damned. And a liberal sprinkling of salt, as long as he was at it.

Often his doctor can tell when he’s been cheating, but not always. Once Arthur ate a whole apple pie covered with vanilla ice cream, and at his appointment the next day, his doctor said, “I’m pleased with your progress, Arthur; whatever you’re doing, keep it up. You’ll live to be one hundred.”

Arthur is eighty-five years old. He guesses he does want to live to be one hundred, even without Nola. It’s not the same without her, though. Not one thing is the same. Even something as simple as looking at a daffodil, as he is doing now—someone has planted double-flowered daffodils at the base of a nearby headstone. But seeing that daffodil with Nola gone is not the same, it’s like he’s seeing only part of it.

The earth has begun softening because of spring. The earth is softening and the buds are all like tiny little pregnant women. Arthur wishes Nola were like spring; he wishes she would come back again and again. They wouldn’t even have to be together; he just wants her presence on Earth. She could be a baby reborn into a family far away from here, he wouldn’t even have to see her, ever; he would just like to know that she’d been put back where she belongs. Wherever she is now? That’s the wrong place for Nola Corrine, the Beauty Queen.

Arthur hears a crow call, and looks around to find the bird. It’s sitting on a headstone a few yards away, preening itself.

“Caw!” Arthur says back, taking conversation where he finds it, but the crow flies away.

Arthur straightens and regards the cloudless sky, a near-turquoise color today. He puts his hand to the back of his neck and squeezes it, it feels good to do that. He squeezes his neck and looks out over the acres and acres of graves, and nobody here but him. It makes him feel rich.

Arthur takes a bite of his sandwich. Then he gets off his chair and kneels before Nola’s headstone, presses his hand against it and closes his eyes. He cries a little, and then he gets back into his chair and finishes his sandwich.

He is folding up his chair, getting ready to go when he sees a young woman sitting on the ground, her back against a tree. Spiky black hair, pale skin, big eyes. Jeans all ripped like the kids do, T-shirt that looks like it’s on a hanger, the way it hangs on her. The girl ought to have a coat, or at least a sweater, it’s not that warm. She ought to be in school.

He’s seen her here before. She sits various places, never near any particular grave site. She never looks at him. She stares out ahead of herself, picking at her nails. That’s all she does. Fourteen? Fifteen? He tries waving at her today, but when she sees him she puts her hand to her mouth, as though she’s frightened. He thinks she’s ready to run, and so he turns away.

Maddy was half asleep when she saw that old man look over at her and wave. When he did, her hand flew up to her mouth and he turned away, then shuffled off with his little fold-up chair. She hadn’t meant to do that, make him think she was afraid. Things don’t come out right. If she sees him again, she’ll ask him who’s in the grave. His wife, she imagines, though you can’t be sure.

Maddy watches as the old man gets smaller in the distance. She sees him go to the bus stop outside the gate and stand still, staring straight ahead. He doesn’t crane his neck, looking to see if the bus is coming. He wouldn’t be one of those people who punch an elevator button over and over, Maddy thinks. He’d just wait.

She takes out her phone and snaps a close-up of a tuft of grass, a patch of bark. She loosens her shoelaces, steps out of her shoe, and photographs it lying on its side. She walks to a nearby grave and photographs the center of one of the lilies in the wilting bouquet placed over it, the gently arcing stamens, the upright pistil.

She looks at her watch: 1:40. She’ll stay here until school is over, then go home. Tonight, she’ll meet Anderson, after he’s done working. Anderson is so handsome, he makes you vacant-headed. She met him at the Walmart, where he works in the stockroom. She was leaving the store and he was coming out of the bathroom and he smiled at her and asked if she was Katy Perry. As if. She smiled back. He was on his way to get a hot dog and he asked her to join him. She was scared to, but she did. They didn’t talk much, but they agreed to meet later that night. Three months now. She knows some things about him: he was in the Army, he loves dogs, he plays guitar, a little. Once he brought her a gift: a pearl on a gold chain, which she never takes off.

She slides farther down on the tree she’s leaning against and makes the space between her knees an aperture. All those graves. Click.

Most people find graveyards sad. She finds them comforting. She wishes her mother had been buried here, and not cremated. Once she heard a guy on the radio say that the cities of the dead are busy places, and it was one of those moments when it felt like a key to a lock. They are busy places.

Last time she saw Anderson, she tried to tell him that. They were at a nearly deserted McDonald’s, and she spoke quietly. She told him about the old man she saw there all the time, about how he talked to dead people. She told him what the man on the radio had said. She told him she found it peaceful being in a cemetery with the dead. Beautiful, even. What did Anderson think?

“I think you’re fucking weird,” he said.

It made her go cold in the back. At first she sat motionless in the booth, watching him eat his fries. Then she said, “I know, right?” and barked out a kind of laugh. “Can I have one of your fries?” she asked, and he said, “If you want some, get some,” and shoved a couple of dollars over at her.

But there was the necklace. And one time right after he met her, he sent her a little poem in the mail: Hope this little note will do / To tell you that I’m missing you. Another time he kissed her from the top of her head all the way to her toes. All in a long line, kiss, kiss, kiss. She had thought of it the next night at dinner and had had to hide a shiver. “Eat,” her father had said. That was one of their chatty dinners, he talked to her. He said a word. Usually, they said nothing. Each had learned the peril of asking questions and getting answers that were essentially rebuffs. “How was work, Dad?” “Work is work.” “How was school, Maddy?” “Meh.” “Do you like this chicken?” “It’s fine.” “Want to watch Game of Thrones tonight?” “You can.”

She checks her watch again, and gets up to find another place to sit.

When Arthur gets home, he pulls the mail from the box, brings it into the kitchen to sort through it, then tosses it all in the trash: junk mail. A waste of the vision he has left, going through it.

He pours himself a cup of cold coffee from the pot on the stove and sits at the kitchen table to drink it, his long legs crossed. He and Nola, they drank coffee all day long. He pauses mid-sip, wondering suddenly if that helped do her in; she had at one time been warned against an excess of caffeine.

He finishes the coffee and rinses out his cup, turns it upside down in the drainer. He uses the same tan-colored cup with the green stripe all the time: for coffee, for water, for his occasional nip of Jack Daniel’s, even for his Metamucil. Nola liked variety in all things; he doesn’t care, when it comes to dishes. Or clothes. Get the job done, that’s all.

Here comes Gordon the cat, walking stiff-legged toward him but looking about for Nola. Still. “She’s not here,” Arthur tells him, and pats his lap, inviting the cat to jump up. Sometimes Gordon will come, but mostly he wanders off again. Arthur has heard that elephants grieve, seems like cats do, too. Houseplants, too, for that matter. Ironically, he has no luck with them. He looks over at the African violet on the windowsill. Past hope. Tomorrow, he’ll throw it away. He says that every day, that he’ll do it tomorrow. She had loved the ruffled petals. “Look,” she’d told him, when she brought it home, and she’d put a finger under one of the blossoms like it was a chin.

After a dinner of canned stew that looks like dog food, he heads upstairs to the unevenly made bed. She’d be pleased he does that, makes the bed. Here’s the big surprise: he’s pleased, too. A man doesn’t always make room in his life for appreciating certain things that seem to be under women’s auspices, but there’s a satisfaction in some of them. The toilet seat, though. Up. And there are other grim pleasures in doing things he didn’t used to get to do. Cigar right at the kitchen table. Slim Jims for dinner. What he wants on TV, all the time.

He lies down and thinks about that young girl. He feels bad for having scared her. A wave, and she seemed horrified. Seems like he understands more about the dead than the living these days, but he thinks he understands a little about her. If he sees her again, he’ll shout over, “Didn’t mean to scare you!” Maybe she’ll shout back, “I wasn’t scared! I wasn’t scared, get you!” The image of her sauntering over to him, her thumbs in her belt loops, looking to pass the time. They could talk. He could introduce her to a few of the folks underground—who he thinks they were—if she wouldn’t think he was crazy. Maybe she wouldn’t think he was crazy; from the looks of it, she has her own strange ways. He might ask her if it didn’t hurt, that ring in her nose, hanging out the bottom like a booger.

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4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
2,371 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

D. Eppenstein
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
like me, enjoyed
Reviewed in the United States on January 25, 2018
I went looking for this book after reading the review of a GR friend (Thanks Bam). My friend''s review specifically stated that this book is not to be compared to "A Man Called Ove". I guess I can agree with that statement. The two books are different, their... See more
I went looking for this book after reading the review of a GR friend (Thanks Bam). My friend''s review specifically stated that this book is not to be compared to "A Man Called Ove". I guess I can agree with that statement. The two books are different, their characters are different, the cultures they live in and so forth. However, if you, like me, enjoyed, actually raved about, "Ove" then you will almost certainly enjoy this book as well. "Arthur" is a book that will engage you and charm you in much the same manner as "Ove" and it will be a reading experience that will linger within you for quite some time.

The book is about Arthur Moses, an 82 year old man that lost his much loved wife some 6 months prior to the beginning of this story. He befriends a 17 year old girl whose mother died 2 weeks after her birth and whose father has suppressed all of his emotions. There is also a spinster neighbor that is a retired teacher and avid baker. All of these people have suffered losses that have seriously afflicted them and their abilities to deal with life. This book is about how they go about filling the void that their losses have created. The relationships these characters form takes them on individual journeys of realization and discovery foremost of which is that sometimes no matter who you are or how strong you might be you must rely and accept the help of others. Once you accept your own frailty and acknowledge your weakness then you can set about helping yourself get on with living your life. A most moving and impressive book and I highly recommend it. (less)
102 people found this helpful
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M. May
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Nothing like review. Morally depraved characters with too many f ...
Reviewed in the United States on February 27, 2018
This is a disgustingly disappointing book!
Nothing like review. Morally depraved characters with too many f expletives. Could not complete this trash.
64 people found this helpful
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Dianne
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Charming, Heartwarming Tale
Reviewed in the United States on December 27, 2017
This charming story evokes just about every emotion - sadness, humor, pathos, joy - and causes the reader to laugh and cry. Arthur is in his 80''s and has recently lost his wife. Lucille, next-door, is also an octogenarian who has found love, and Maddy is a teen nicknamed... See more
This charming story evokes just about every emotion - sadness, humor, pathos, joy - and causes the reader to laugh and cry. Arthur is in his 80''s and has recently lost his wife. Lucille, next-door, is also an octogenarian who has found love, and Maddy is a teen nicknamed "Saddy" by her bullying classmates. Arthur brings his folding chair and lunch on a 17 block bus ride each day to sit in the cemetery to visit his wife''s grave. There he meets Maddy, an intelligent mis-fit, who spends her lunch hours at the cemetery thinking of the mother she never knew,, taking pictures, and contemplating life. When Maddy hits a particularly rough patch in life, it''s Arthur who her helps her through by allowing her to become his housekeeper in exchange for room and board. It isn''t long until Louise moves in,too, and they form an unlikely trio of friends and allies. All are sympathetic characters you would be glad to know. Even Maddy''s father, Steve, whose wife died in a car crash, has redeeming qualities. The ending is quite heartbreaking. It is also uplifting. Ms. Berg has written a quality, memorable novel. I''m sorry to have finished it....
51 people found this helpful
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melee3
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Truluv is no Ove
Reviewed in the United States on July 30, 2018
I am giving this 3 stars because the last chapters of the book are almost worth the time. But don’t in any way think this is like A Man Called Ove even though they both feature an old man, a pregnant woman and a cat and are written in present tense. I can’t quite put my... See more
I am giving this 3 stars because the last chapters of the book are almost worth the time. But don’t in any way think this is like A Man Called Ove even though they both feature an old man, a pregnant woman and a cat and are written in present tense. I can’t quite put my finger on what is wrong with the writing other than it is completely uninspired. I am cleansing my palate today by re-reading Ove. That seems harsh, but parts of it are worthwhile. Be warned that there are naughty bits in the first part of the book that frankly were not necessary. It could have been so much better.
33 people found this helpful
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Carole P. Roman
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Sweet story about love and grief
Reviewed in the United States on December 23, 2017
Sweet story about love and grief, and healing. Heartbroken Arthur Moses visits his wife''s grave every day.Eighteen-year-old, Maddy Harris hangs out in the cemetery because it''s the only place she feels comfortable. Unhappy at home with a distant father still grieving the... See more
Sweet story about love and grief, and healing. Heartbroken Arthur Moses visits his wife''s grave every day.Eighteen-year-old, Maddy Harris hangs out in the cemetery because it''s the only place she feels comfortable. Unhappy at home with a distant father still grieving the death of his wife eighteen years before, she becomes infatuated with a local boy who treats her like a jerk.
Lucille, Arthur''s nosy neighbor reconnects with her long-lost high school love and appears to be heading for the altar, despite her advanced age. Each of the characters is alone, isolated by their losses, yet find themselves making an improbable trio. They learn that there are all types of families, that very often don''t need to be connected by blood. Sometimes the bonds you choose are stronger and more supportive than the ones connected by blood.
Heart-warming, and at times sad, Berg writes an intimate book, where you feel the inevitable pull of the human soul to love another. Arthur''s description of his loneliness, Maddy''s isolation, and Lucille''s desperation that she''s missed out on everything come together in a sweet story of the magnetic human heart that despite being bruised, will reach out to find a kindred spirit.
30 people found this helpful
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BC
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Gift To The Heart
Reviewed in the United States on November 29, 2017
The thing is, I am an avid Elizabeth Berg fan....I''ve read Every Single One of her novels. So when this appeared on my Kindle a while ago offering up a pre-order opportunity, I did not hesitate. I read what it was about, knew it intrigued me - and it was by Berg, no... See more
The thing is, I am an avid Elizabeth Berg fan....I''ve read Every Single One of her novels. So when this appeared on my Kindle a while ago offering up a pre-order opportunity, I did not hesitate. I read what it was about, knew it intrigued me - and it was by Berg, no hesitation. Reading something by Berg is a personal gift to me - like opening that package under the Xmas tree with no idea what is inside and yet, you KNOW it will delight you. This is a love story about a man loving the wife he lost, about a lost neighbor, about a lost girl. It''s simply a feel-good-to-the-core story you should not miss. Berg has a way of relaying feelings/thoughts that never cease to stun me. I can only offer up some passages to try to portray what I cannot:

"A promise is a promise, even if it''s only one you made to yourself."

He cares about words. He taught her one of her favorite words: hiraeth, a Welsh word that means a homesickness for a home you cannot return to, or that maybe never was; it means nostalgia and yearning and grief for lost places."

"She doesn''t exactly know why kids don''t like her. She''s good-looking enough. She has a sense of humor. She''s not dumb. She guesses it''s because they can sense how much she needs them. They are like kids in a circle holding sticks, picking on the weak thing. It is in people, to be entertained by cruelty."

"He''ll probably just take a walk around the block after dinner and hope Lucille Howard is not sitting out on her porch. If she''s sitting on her porch, he''s a dead man. Lucille taught fourth grade for many years, and she seems to think the world is her classroom. She''s a bit didactic for Arthur''s tastes, a little condescending. Odd, then, that at the thought f seeing her, his weary old heart accelerates. He supposes it could be an erratic beat, he gets them, but he''d prefer to call it something else. So much of everything is what you call it."

"Arthur thinks that, above all, aging means the abandonment of criticism and the taking on of compassionate acceptance. He sees that as a good trade."

"But adults complicate everything. They are by nature complicators. They learned to make things harder than they need to be and they learned to talk way too much. Not that he isn''t guilty of his own sins, as an adult. Hiss loss of enthusiasm for spontaneity, for one. Nola used to complain about that. "Let ''s go for a drive!" she''d say, and he''d say "When?" and she''d say "NOW!" "Where?" he''d ask and she''d say "Anywhere!" And he''d say, oh, he couldn''t right then, Finally she stopped asking, because he always said he couldn''t do it right then. But he could have! He cold have and should have. You ask kinds if they want to go for a drive, what do they say? YES!

"Just one look, it happens ore often than people think. Happened with him and Nola. He looked at her standing at the candy counter at the dime store and everything inside him took the express elevator down, then up, zip-a-dee-doo-dah. ''Miss?" he''d said around the lump in his throat. She''d turned toward him and smiled, and he''d said, "I''m going to marry you." And she hadn''t run away. She''d said, "When?"

"Isn''t it funny. All the years they''ve lived next to each other and so rarely do they cross each other''s thresholds. He liked it better when he was a kid and he and his friends ran into and out of each other''s houses as though they lived in all of them."

When Arthur is asked by Maddy about his spending time at the gravesites where his wife Nola is buried, he replies: "It''s just pleasant for me to imagine their lives," he says. "They''re Nola''s neighbors, I want to know who they are."

"He feels like she''s the smallest little plant, dying from lack of water But then he realizes he must tread carefully in this regard. People who don''t feel cared for are not always comfortable being cared for".

"Why do they pick on her? One of the things Maddy has of her mother''s is a collection of Tori Amos CDs. Maddy listens to those CDs a lot, and she''s read about Tori. She draws comfort from a quote she read that was attributed to the singer: "What girls do to each other is beyond description. No Chinese torture comes close."

"Libraries used to be sanctuaries. Quiet places, with shafts of sunlight falling on rows and rows of books. Stories seeming to beckon. Now there is too much to do there, too much to see. He doesn''t do well with such stimulation. He''s more of a one-thing-at-a-time man."

"His face takes on the kind of desperate and frozen quality so many men''s faces take on when they don''t want to cry. It''s a fragile fierceness, heartbreaking to behold."

"She nods, then begins to rock slowly in her chair. For a long time, neither she nor Arthur speaks. Their chairs do the talking for them."

"But then when Frank came into my life, well, it was like plugging in the Christmas tree."

"But what do you DO? You don''t even go to church! You take care of your roses and that''s it!" Arthur rocks for a while. Lucille''s chair has gone still, but Arthur rocks for a while. "Let me ask you something" he says, finally. Did you ever hear anyone say they wanted to be a writer?" "Yes, I''ve heard lots of people say that", she replies. Arthur says "Everybody wants to be a WRITER". He stops his rocking to look over at her and says "But what we need are READERS. Right? Where would writers be without readers? Who are they going to write for? And actors, what are they without an audience? Actors, painters, dancers, comedians, even just ordinary people doing ordinary things, what are they without an audience of some sort? See, that''s what I do. I am the audience. I am the witness. I am the great appreciator, that''s what I do and that''s all I want to do. I worked for a lot of years. I did a lot of things for a lot of years. Now, well, here I am in the rocking chair, and I don''t mind it, Lucille. I don''t feel useless. I feel lucky."

"Her parents left her a nice inheritance, and she bought her house because she thought it was charming and that eventually she''d need all that space, but she never did. Lots of closed doors. And if there''s anything that makes you feel lonely, it''s a lot of closed doors in your own house."

"It''s a note from Maddy, a quote of some kind: ''What is it that makes a family? Certainly no document does, no legal pronouncement or accident of birth. No, real families come from choices we make about who we want to be bound to, and the ties to such families live in our hearts."

"She goes back to bed, turns out the light, and can hear herself start to snore before she falls off into sleep. She doesn''t know why so many people hate snoring. She finds it soothing, White noise, with a ruffle."

"The mid-December morning sun is pushing so hard through the window it''s as though it is knocking. Arthur lies in bed in his blue pajamas, thinking. Life is such a funny thing. So arbitrary-seeming, but sometimes he just can''t help but think that there really is a grand plan. In a way, it reminds him of square dancing, how you can see the pattern fully only by looking at it from above, by not being a part of it."

"Star to the right. Arthur likes to think about that term. Couples walk to each other and join right hands in a star formation and then walk in the direction they are facing. And what he hopes is that he''ll see Nola again, and that''s how it will be. They''ll join hands and walk off together in this new direction they''re facing."

Maddy says to Lucille''s comment about Arthur''s wife Nora ''not being anywhere in the cemetery'': "Well, see, I think that she is there, in the cemetery, for Arthur. Her spirit is strong there. He feels her and he talks to her. I understand that. I feel things in cemeteries too, don''t you?"

Arthur says to Maddy "Nola once told me she wished people could be stars in the sky and look down on those that they loved. I always wished that could be so. Let''s you and I pretend it''s true, even if it isn''t. And after I die, why you look up in the sky for two stars, real close together. That will be Nola and me. Look up at us sometimes."

Right at the end of the novel there is a conversation Arthur has with his deceased wife Nola at her headstone, when his heart and bones tell him he cannot come any more, which brought me to my knees.

I love finding out how a book title gets its name. You''ll know it when you come across it - Maddy says to Arthur "I''m going to call you Truluv. We''ll spell it T-R-U-L-U-V. That''s your new name."

Right before the beginning of the novel Berg quotes Thornton Wilder from Our Town: "We all know that SOMETHING is eternal. And it ain''t houses and it ain''t names, and it ain''t earth, and it ain''t even the stars--everybody knows in their bones that SOMETHING is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings."
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Lynne M. Spreen
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Nice Story but Needed Better Editing
Reviewed in the United States on December 2, 2017
Although Elizabeth Berg is one of my favorite authors, this book had some problems. But it was still a good read, and there were three exceptional concepts in it that gave me something to take with me. The first was the word hiraeth, "a Welsh word that means a... See more
Although Elizabeth Berg is one of my favorite authors, this book had some problems. But it was still a good read, and there were three exceptional concepts in it that gave me something to take with me. The first was the word hiraeth, "a Welsh word that means a homesickness for a home you cannot return to, or that maybe never was; it means nostalgia and yearning and grief for lost places." Oh, who can''t identify with that! The closed I''ve come is the word "elegiac."

Second, the idea of helpers, an almost mystical intervention by people, animals or spirits that would help a troubled person feel more hopeful. "Look for the helpers," Arthur tells us. "If you look for the helpers, you''ll know that there''s hope."

Third, and this took my breath away: the elderly Lucille is despondent, because she can''t do very much. What purpose do we serve anymore, Arthur? she asks. Even more elderly, Arthur responds: "...Where would writers be without readers? Who are they going to write for? And actors...painters, dancers, comedians, even just ordinary people doing ordinary things, what are they without an audience of some sort? See, that''s what I do. I am the audience. I am the witness. I am the great appreciator, that''s what I do..."

If I get to such a point in my life that I''m too frail to feel I have purpose, that right there would buoy me up.

So there''s a lot of good, but there''s some bad, too. First of all, the book is written in present tense. That was off-putting, but I got used to it.

Second, there are typos.

Third, there are structure problems. One (not main) character goes from having an idea about a home business, to sticking her toe in, to 100% success...and this kind of happens overnight. Not enough development.

Fourth, there''s entirely too much telling in this book. We go from one situation to another, spanning months, just in the narrative voice. It''s too arms-length, too removed.

Big problem: Arthur is only two-dimensional. He''s a golden personality who shimmers with an inner light, lifting all who know him, and he has no flaws except a ridiculous challenge with math. His special gift, the ability to imagine to the most minute detail, the lives of those who lie in graves near his wife, is not used in any way in the story! It became tedious very quickly, and I skimmed these fulsome descriptions of non-characters.

Finally, the book ends suddenly, and the ending has a major timespan/logic error. I won''t say what happens, but dang. Really? I was wondering if Ms. Berg got caught short of time and had to send it in at the last minute, not fully finished. In fact, the book is only about 220 pages. It could have gone another 40 or 50.

Up until now, Elizabeth Berg''s writing has been not just good but transcendent. I hope she gets her mojo back. Until then, if you haven''t read her other works, start with The Year of Pleasures and Talk Before Sleep.
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Cathryn Conroy
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A 10-Star Book in a Five-Star World! This Is Honey for the Soul
Reviewed in the United States on December 18, 2018
Oh, this is a wonderful, wonderful book! This is a 10-star book in a five-star world. Written in a similar style as "The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper" and (to some extent) "Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine," this heartwarming—but not sappy!—book by... See more
Oh, this is a wonderful, wonderful book! This is a 10-star book in a five-star world.

Written in a similar style as "The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper" and (to some extent) "Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine," this heartwarming—but not sappy!—book by Elizabeth Berg is honey for the soul. It''s a feel-good, but realistic, story. And considering the sometimes dark and scary real world in which we now live, we need more novels like this. (Good news! There is a sequel.)

Arthur Moses is 85 and recently widowed. He lives alone in his house with his cat, Gordon. He has a lunch date every day with his deceased wife, Nola. With a bagged lunch and folding chair, Arthur takes the bus every day to the cemetery where he and Nola have a nice chat while he munches on his sandwich. One day, Arthur notices a teenage girl sitting against a nearby tree. Maddy is lonely. Not only did her mother die when Maddy was two weeks old, but also her father barely acknowledges her existence. And worst of all, she is bullied at school. While it doesn''t happen immediately, Arthur and Maddy strike up an unusual friendship—one that saves them both. And then there is his neighbor, Lucille, an elderly widow who experiences her own rejuvenation when her high school boyfriend shows up in her life and changes everything—almost.

This is truly an enchanting book with rich and diverse characters who show us the possibilities for love, laughter and joy. Read it to feel good!
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Top reviews from other countries

R H TAYLOR
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Good story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 18, 2021
Great book to read enjoyed it
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Lucy
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Loved
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 3, 2018
A lovely story with great characters tinged with sadness and affection
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Emily Stone
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
3 Star Average
Reviewed in Canada on February 28, 2018
An okay read, not a great read. A little charming, but predictable. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn''t read A Man Called Ove prior to reading this...
One person found this helpful
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jwhitch
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Wonderful, easy read.
Reviewed in Canada on September 12, 2020
The first of the Mason books and a truly heartwarming story. I love Elizabeth Berg books!
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anonymous
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Five Stars
Reviewed in Canada on June 2, 2018
I liked it sooooo much that I bought 4 extra copies to give to friends.
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