Summary and book reviews of The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

The Story of Arthur Truluv

A Novel

by Elizabeth Berg

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg X
The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2017, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2018, 272 pages

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Book Summary

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—from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg.

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. Sometimes in the evening he'll take a walk and stop to chat with his nosy neighbor, Lucille. It's a quiet routine not entirely without its joys. 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 often comes to the cemetery to escape the other kids at school and a life of loss. She's seen Arthur sitting there alone, and one afternoon she joins him—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 bands together, helping one another, through heartache and hardships, to 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.

Excerpt
The Story of Arthur Truluv

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 ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Questions and Topics for Discussion
  1. What did the epigraphs mean to you before you read the book? Did they seem to hint at any major themes in The Story of Arthur Truluv? How did the meaning of the epigraphs change for you, after you finished the book?
  2. Arthur has a special connection to the dead. Every day he talks to his late wife, and he sees glimpses into the lives of other people who are buried in the cemetery. Do you think the connection he has with the dead influences how he views and lives his life?
  3. Maddy is bullied by her classmates, both at her school and online. How does this effect the choices she makes early in the book, and how is she eventually able to overcome it?
  4. Lucille is an incredibly ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Occasionally a book comes along that cries to be shared with a friend (Karen J). I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading other books by Elizabeth Berg (Maxine D). This would be a good choice for readers looking for a "feel good" experience (Betty B) and would also be an excellent book group choice because there's so much to discuss about the questions it explores (Joan R). It should especially appeal to the retirement crowd (Carol S). It was reminiscent of the writing styles of Frederick Bachman and Fannie Flagg (Rose N). I will recommend this book to many of my reading friends, young and old, but especially to those who enjoyed Fredrik Backman's A Man Called Ove and Anne Tyler's Breathing Lessons (Gail K). Fans of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand would like this book (Mary B).   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

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Media Reviews

Booklist
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.

Author Blurb Fannie Flagg, author of The Whole Town's Talking
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.

Author Blurb Richard Russo, author of Everybody's Fool
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.

Author Blurb ane Hirshfield, author of The Beauty: Poems
Elizabeth Berg reminds us of both the richness of any human life and the heart's needed resilience.

Reader Reviews

Mary B. (Laguna Woods, CA)

Delightful read
A charming story of an older man who meets a high school girl at the cemetery where he visits his wife's grave for lunch every day. A bond develops between the man, the girl & his neighbor and they all help each other. Fans of Major Pettigrew's ...   Read More

Annemarie J. (Buffalo, NY)

The Story of Arthur Truluv
Elizabeth Berg's novel is one of several books about unlikely partnerships between old and young and how caring is ageless. I enjoyed Billie Letts' WHERE THE HEART IS, Stephanie Kallos' BROKEN FOR YOU and Kent Haruf's PLAINSONG, but of all the ...   Read More

Katherine D. (Rochester, NY)

Second chances, Harry Trulove
Given: one widowed cemetery-visiting man, Arthur, one cranky old lady, Lucille, and one angry, vulnerable goth teenager with nose-ring. In lesser hands this cast might lead to a rather predictable tale of the problems inherent in connecting ...   Read More

Robin M. (Newark, DE)

Truluv is True Love
I had no pre-formed ideas about this book, having not previously read anything by Elizabeth Berg, but I will seek out her other books because this one was excellent. I loved this bittersweet coming of age story about loneliness, intergenerational ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Bibliotherapy

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg is by many accounts a "feel-good read" – a book that readers say makes them feel upbeat after having finished it. But that raises the question: Can a book truly influence your mood?   It turns out that scientists have long speculated that reading can, in fact, have an impact on one's mental health, and a practice called "bibliotherapy" has arisen around this belief.

Bibliotherapy is defined as the use of books as a treatment for mental or psychological disorders. The idea that books can be beneficial dates back to ancient Greece, where libraries were considered sacred structures with curative powers. The word bibliotherapy was first coined in an article...

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