Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Story of Arthur Truluv

Title:  The Story of Arthur Truluv
Author:  Elizabeth Berg
Publication Information:  Random House. 2017. 240 pages.
ISBN:  1400069904 / 978-1400069903

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "In the six months since the November day that his wife, Nola, was buried, Arthur Moses has been having lunch with her every day."

Favorite Quote:  "I suppose we might be old-fashioned, but I don't think love is. Who doesn't need it? We all of us need it, especially those who say they don't. It's like oil in the crankcase, we can't run without it."

The story of Arthur Truluv is a story about loneliness and about friendship that can be found in the unlikeliest of places and about the family we create. For that, it is a sweet, sentimental, and heart warming story.

Arthur Moses (no, his name is not really Truluv) is a widower. His life consists primarily of visiting the graveyard and having lunch by his wife's side daily. Maddy is a teenager with her own sorrows. She lost her mother, and her father has not recovered from that grief enough to be there for his daughter as she needs him. Lucille is Arthur's irascible neighbor; she too is alone, and she too dreams of more.

Arthur and Lucille are quirky and older, a character type that has featured in many books recently. However, this book is not really about the quirks or even the old part. It is about how this unlikely trio bands together. In that, the book also gets at the friendship and the bond that can exist between generations. Arthur is in his eighties, and Maddy is seventeen. Yet, both share that feeling of being alone and abandoned, and both respond to that in the other.

Mind you, suspend your disbelief and check any analytical tendencies before reading this book. The plot itself is a contrived set of circumstances. Arthur and Maddy meet by chance at the cemetery. Arthur manages to pierce Maddy's shell where either other adults have not tried or tried and failed. Maddy gives Arthur the very corny nickname of Truluv, and he likes it. Lucille's entire story of love found and lost is a far reach and stands apart from the rest of the plot. The fact that Maddy's father is not really part of the story given the circumstances seems unlikely. The situation in which Maddy finds herself feels designed to make a point. The sorrow at home, the bullying at school, and the self-serving boyfriend all create more and more burdens for this young woman, and then all of a sudden, things turn around. The neat, packaged ending to this book can be seen coming, and, of course, there is the obligatory cat.

The characters also embody a "character." Arthur is the lonely, kind, and wise old man. Maddy is the scared but oh-I-got-this teenager looking for security and love. Lucille is the cantankerous old biddy with a heart of gold. The characters neither evolve nor really change in the book. They remain as I envision and behave in ways I expect.

Interestingly, most of this does not matter. The book is not really about the specific plot line or even the development of the characters. It is about the emotion. The book captures loneliness and loss as well as the joy that comes forth in caring and being cared for. It is that feeling which draws me in and keeps me reading, and even the neat, packaged ending leaves me hoping that things will work out for all the characters. Perfect for when I need a sweet, feel good story.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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