Review: The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

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☆☆➹⁀☆5 stars☆➹⁀☆☆

What it’s about:

A beautiful, life-affirming novel about a remarkably loving man who creates for himself and others second chances at happiness.

A moving novel about three people who find their way back from loss and loneliness to a different kind of happiness. Arthur, a widow, meets Maddy, a troubled teenage girl who is avoiding school by hiding out at the cemetery, where Arthur goes every day for lunch to have imaginary conversations with his late wife, and think about the lives of others. The two strike up a friendship that draws them out of isolation. Maddy gives Arthur the name Truluv, for his loving and positive responses to every outrageous thing she says or does. With Arthur’s nosy neighbor Lucille, they create a loving and unconventional family, proving that life’s most precious moments are sweeter when shared.

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Releases November 21, 2017; Pre-order available

My Thoughts:

From the first page, Elizabeth Berg’s solemn, lonely characters visiting the cemetery hooked me. I felt their sadness, loneliness and awkwardness. The Story of Arthur Truluv is a heartwarming, feel-good book.

Maddy has spent a lonely life growing up without a mother, and her emotionally absent father isn’t much of a parent. Her father has taken care of the basics (food, shelter, etc.), but after losing his wife right after Maddy’s birth, he is but a mere shell of a person. Maddy marches to the beat of a different drum. She has endured ostracism and ridicule from classmates. It is a wonder that she has stuck with school. My heart broke for this character. An outcast at school and home, I just wanted to give her a big hug. It is no surprise that she is taken in by the {innocent} attentions of Arthur Morris.

Arthur “hears” the dead and feels how they lived and died. This is probably Ms. Berg’s way of showing her readers that Arthur is a caring person who truly listens, feels deeply, and pays attention to people. Everyday he takes a bag lunch to the cemetery to visit his late wife, and along the way to her grave, the dead call out their stories to him.

“I’ll love you forever in darkness and sun, I’ll love you past when my whole sweet life is done,” says Arthur to his late wife Nola. While Nola is already long dead when the story begins, she is integral to the story line.

Lucille is Arthur’s next-door neighbor. She doesn’t have much in her life besides baking. She is alone, and Arthur provides her with a little company, and in exchange, she provides Arthur with no end of scrumptious baked goods.

Everyone needs an Arthur in his/her life (at least at some point). Both Maddy and Lucille certainly were enriched by his presence and generosity. While it is Arthur who starts things in motion, it is really needy Maddy who is the catalyst for this motely crew to become a family of sorts. Each character blossoms to his/her best as a result of the trio coming together. They find in one another the things they have been missing most in their lives—parental love and attention, a child to care for, and companionship. They find family.

Even Maddy’s biological father redeems himself a bit by the end. He built a wall around his heart with the death of his wife—blaming his daughter—and he all but neglected his beautiful offspring who didn’t know love until she met Arthur in a cemetery. While Maddy dubs Arthur “Truluv” because of his undying devotion to his late wife, he truly exemplifies the nature of true love (Eros, Agape, Phileo and Storge).

“We can’t help but make mistakes. The important thing is to keep trying. And to apologize when you need to.” –Arthur

Arthur, Lucille and Maddy have been living lonely lives, and when they come together, in the most unusually way, they find family, happiness, and people to care for and who care about them.

#StoryOfArthurTruluv  #NetGalley

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