Not since “A man called Ove” have I been so charmed by a book. “The story of Arthur Truluv” is one of those novels that give you a book hangover (you don’t want to start another book because you are still living in that book’s world.)
“He’s an old man living an old man’s life”
Arthur Moses is an eighty-five year old widower. He hasn’t been a widower very long and his grief is still raw and fresh. He was one of those fortunate people who marry the love of their life and stay in love until death does them part. And it did. Nola passed away over six months ago, yet he has lunch with her everyday. He takes the bus to the cemetery and eats his sandwich with Nola while discussing the day’s events.
When he is not at the cemetery, Arthur spends his time talking to his cat, Gordon, and his next-door neighbor, Lucille, octogenarian and expert baker of cookies.
It is in the cemetery where Arthur meets Maddy Harris – a seventeen year old girl who comes to the cemetery on her lunch break from school. Maddy does not have any real friends. She lives with her father, but theirs is a cold relationship with little, if any, overt displays of affection. She loves to write poetry and take pictures. Maddy is very intelligent, but she has always been an outcast among her peers. She is teased, bullied, and made to feel alone. But then… she has always felt alone.
“But the longer I live, the more I come to see that love is not so easy for everyone. It can get awfully complicated.”
When Arthur and Maddy become acquainted, Maddy is in a sexual relationship. She thinks that if she makes Anderson happy sexually, that he will come to love her. Above all else, Maddy craves love and acceptance. As can be predicted this relationship ends badly, as there was not any real love on Maddy’s side and Anderson was just using her.
She is astounded at the love that Arthur has for his dead wife and she gives him the nickname ‘Truluv’. Arthur is a true friend – and she secretly thinks he is cute with his large ears and big brown eyes. When Maddy’s life takes an unexpected turn it is Arthur that she goes to for support. And support her he does. He invites her to live with him in his big rambling, old-fashioned, house. Before long, Lucille sells her house next-door and moves in with Arthur and Maddy. Mason, Missouri is a sleepy little town of five thousand souls. And now it is the home of Arthur, Maddy and Lucille.
“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.”
“The story of Arthur Truluv” is a touching work of literary fiction. Told in a way that is not at all ‘sappy’, the book explores the themes of loneliness, aging, and family. I’m certain it will resonate with readers who enjoyed “A man called Ove” and “The storied life of A.J. Fikry“. I know it will be near the top of my ‘Best of 2017’ list. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to read it. Highly recommended!
This wonderful novel is due to be published this coming November,
but you can pre-order it now!
My heartfelt thanks to the author via Random House and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this novel for review purposes. The enjoyment was gravy!
Elizabeth Berg is the New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including We Are All Welcome Here, The Year of Pleasures, The Art of Mending, Say When, True to Form, Never Change, and Open House, which was an Oprah’s Book Club selection in 2000. Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year, and Talk Before Sleepwas short-listed for the ABBY Award in 1996. The winner of the 1997 New England Booksellers Award for her body of work, Elizabeth Berg is also the author of a nonfiction work, Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True. She lives in Chicago.