The Pull of the Moon

The Pull of the Moon

3.6 43
by Elizabeth Berg

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Uncomfortable with the fit of her life, now that she's in the middle of it, Nan gets into her car and just goes—driving across the country on back roads, following the moon; and stopping to talk to people. Through conversations with women, men, with her husband through letters, and with herself through her diary, Nan confronts topics long overdue for her


Uncomfortable with the fit of her life, now that she's in the middle of it, Nan gets into her car and just goes—driving across the country on back roads, following the moon; and stopping to talk to people. Through conversations with women, men, with her husband through letters, and with herself through her diary, Nan confronts topics long overdue for her attention. She writes to her husband and says things she's never admitted before; and she discovers how the fabric of her life can be reshaped into a more authentic creation.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
What (in Range of Motion) seemed an unerring touch for the emotional truths of women's lives proves imperfect after all for Berg, who misses the mark in this story of a wife and mother who runs away to find herself. In a plot device reminiscent of Ann Tyler's Ladder of Years, Berg's protagonist, Nan, impulsively leaves her Massachusetts home soon after she turns 50, hitting the road to find a new sense of direction. "I have felt so long like I am drowning,'' she explains in a letter to her husband, Martin, as she begins a car trip westward with no destination in mind except to "come into my own.'' She chronicles both the geographical terrain and her inner landscape in further letters to Martin and to her grown daughter, Ruthie, and in a journal that has the tone of an adolescent's diary. Women will empathize with Nan's fear of aging and her gradual realization of the resentment she has long felt about filling the role of dutiful wife, but the epistolary device strips the story of immediacy, and the situations Nan describes are often unlikely or merely tame (she has a noisy tantrum at a beauty salon when she decides not to dye her gray hair; she invites a stranger into her cabin in the Minnesota woods and, when they go to bed, they just cuddle). Nan's conversations with other women are overdosed with saccharine, and her epiphanies are old hat. Self-indulgent and cloying, this is a one-tone narrative with almost none of the dramatic resonance Berg's fans have learned to expect. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Berg (Range of Motion, LJ 8/95) uses letters and diary entries to tell the story of 50-year-old Nan, who is coming to terms with her place in society as an older woman. The letters, written to her husband, attempt to explain her unplanned cross-country flight. The diary entries allow Nan to probe deeper into her past and to explore the reasons for her loss of self-esteem. Conveniently, Nan is a woman of privilege traveling in relative comfort, with no concern for the financing of her trip. Her letters to her husband include instructions to contact their architect so that on her return they can plan a new house she describes in fanciful detail. She has little or no anxiety about how her husband might react to her flight, and there seems to be nothing in her life beyond her relationship with him and with her college-age daughter. Berg's somewhat superficial treatment of an individual in transition is not altogether satisfying. Recommended for larger public libraries.-Rebecca A. Stuhr-Rommereim, Grinnell Coll. Libs., Ia.
Kirkus Reviews
Berg's fourth novel in four years (Range of Motion, 1995, etc.) alternates mawkish diary entries with chilly letters home by a woman who's run away to "find herself" after 30 or so years of marriage, in a tale that seems better suited to the 1970s than the 1990s.

Fifty-year-old Nan, who's never worked, writes daily bulletins to excoriated husband Martin from the road, letting him know obliquely why she left by sharing secrets, including the fact that she feels continually diminished by his habitual lack of attention to what she says; that she's been going through a rough menopause, "acutely missing my periods," and feeling like "some old gal;" that she fears the dark and hates that about herself; and that she wishes she and Martin could go live in a much smaller house by the ocean, with "golden-colored wooden stairs and a small fieldstone fireplace," urging Martin to call an architect and have plans drawn up for such a house when she returns home. Talk about mixed messages. In her italicized diary entries, she remembers her past (pre-Martin boyfriends from the 1960s, the ways in which she tried to raise her now-grown daughter, Ruthie, "to be different from me") and chronicles her encounters with other loners (a teen-aged boy in an Ohio mall who wants to sleep with her; a humiliated wife in an Iowa garden-supply store; a bereaved young husband in a Minnesota motor park). She faces her fears (sleeps outside in the moonless dark, confronts her sexuality alone in a motel room one night) and gradually begins to miss Martin. So, finally, she heads back home to Boston, scripting her reunion with Martin in letters that contain not a shadow of a doubt that he wants her back.

The culture doesn't want her back—she's idle, self-absorbed, and dull in ways we haven't encountered for 20 years. An uninspiring concoction.

From the Publisher
“Breathtaking . . . [Berg] writes with wry wit and aching lyricism, painting her characters as vividly as anyone writing today.”—Charlotte Observer

“Reading The Pull of the Moon is like sitting down for a long, satisfying chat with a best girlfriend. . . . [It] pleasantly encourages readers to recover a little life-embracing enthusiasm themselves."—Orlando Sentinel

“When was the last time you thought about running away? . . . In The Pull of the Moon, Berg shares her strength, the wonderful widening of her soul so that we, too, can take the journey in the ease of our chair.”—Greensboro News & Record
“Berg’s gift as a storyteller lies most powerfully in her ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, the remarkable in the everyday.”—The Boston Globe

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

What People are saying about this

Jill McCorkle
The Pull of the Moon should be read by anyone who has ever (even for the slightest second) threatened to run away from home. It is wise and witty, thoughtful and exhilerating. It leaves the reader observing life with great hope and satisfaction.

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Berg first attempted to be published at age nine, when she submitted a poem called ''Dawn'' to American Girl magazine. As she was rejected, she got into a snit and abandoned submitting (though not writing) for 25 years.

She was a registered nurse, a lead singer in a rock band, a waitress, an information clerk at a hotel, an actress in an improvisational theater group, and a secretary. Not all at once, of course. In 1985, she entered an essay contest at Parents Magazine and won. For seven years thereafter, she wrote personal essays and short stories for many magazines, including Redbook, The New York Times Magazine and New Woman. During that time, she was nominated for a National Magazine Award. She also wrote and delivered essays on Special Reports Television, and on ''Chronicle'', a television news magazine in Boston.

In 1992, she published her first book, Family Traditions. Since then, she has written five novels: Durable Goods, Talk Before Sleep, (a finalist for the 1996 ABBY Award), Range of Motion, The Pull of the Moon (to be published in paperback next fall by Jove), and Joy School. She is at work on another novel, still writes an occasional essay, and still thinks fondly of all the jobs she had except for the time she had to wash chickens in a hospital cafeteria. She has two daughters who write at least as well as she does. Berg lives in Massachusetts, and would never want to live anywhere else, not even in California.

Brief Biography

Chicago, Illinois
Date of Birth:
December 2, 1948
Place of Birth:
St. Paul, Minnesota
Attended the University of Minnesota; St. Mary¿s College, A.A.S.

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Pull of the Moon 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
nfmgirl More than 1 year ago
In Pull of the Moon, you follow along with Nan on both her physical and emotional journeys, shared with you through her diary entries and letters to her loved ones. Nan is fifty, married with a grown daughter, and she has reached that point that I think many women reach at some point. She has spent her life as a wife and a mother, and has forgotten who SHE is, and now is consumed by the additional fear of losing her youth and desirability as she faces the physical changes of menopause. So she packs up, hops in the car, and just leaves her husband with a note of apology. She travels around the country, getting to know herself again, remembering who she is and what she likes and what she wants, while writing in her diary and writing letters to her husband to share with him the discoveries that she is making along the way. I'll just say it. I LOVED this book, even though I found myself not really identifying with this place where Nan had found herself: feeling lost, depressed and on the verge of losing her mind along with her identity. However I could still identify with HER. She is every woman, on the basest of levels. And I love the way that author Elizabeth Berg causes me to turn the mirror on myself with a little "Aha!" I like Nan. I like how she reminds me of things that I haven't thought of for a long time. I love the clear and descriptive visual analogies of statements like "Today I woke up and felt the old pull of sadness back. It's like a robe that is too heavy, weighing down my shoulders, dragging up dirt as it follows along behind me." This is one of my favorite lines from the book. Even though I am divorced with no children, and am at a very different place in my life, there is a part of me that could identify with Nan. I could identify with her when she confessed, "I wanted to be able to tell Ruthie how to be popular, how to make and keep friends. But I was-- and still am-- pretty much a loner, one who wearies of almost anyone's company much too soon...Even when I got older, I'd be sitting with a bunch of college friends and suddenly have to leave...I wanted Ruthie to be different from me, to be someone who could make casual conversation without clenching her fists, who could be comfortable at a party." I think that most women can identify with Nan at some point. There's a little Nan in all of us. Last night I sat in the movie theater, reading my book while we waited for the movie to start , and reached over and whispered in my boyfriend's ear. "You know how I'm always telling you that if I don't have someone to share an experience with, it's as if it never happened? Like 'If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?'" He nodded. "In my book she says, 'Occasionally, one learns quiet, and then how to keep it. Even me, who has always felt that everything must be shared, in order for it to be.' See? Nan gets me." And so she does.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Even though I have a ways before I hit the 'age of losses' (or as Nan showed us 'gains'), I fell in love with this book and have read it numerous times (loaned it to my mom as well). It is the essence of every woman. I think that only another woman could read this and think 'yes! this is exactly how my mind works.' You are there with Nan every page, finding your own self, and remembering life. A must-read!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
My sister, of whom I have a nice but not terribly deep relationship with, sent me this book many years ago out of the blue. I read it, loved it, put it in my bookshelf. Started reading Berg with Talk Before Sleep and of course everything else she has written since. I revisited Pull of the Moon recently and found a whole new book in it. I now understand why my sister sent me that book when she did...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I Loved this book and thought about my mother as well, when she was going through that period in her life... It really made me think about getting old, that we all have to go through it. I wished though that I would have known how the husband reacted to her when she arrived home! I was so curious!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would recomed this book to any one over 40 who is trying to find there interself again. Brings you back to reality makes you want to enjoy the real things in life that are free like just listening to the birds sing or listening to the waves at the beach, just listening to just plan old chit chat about nothing making you look at your own life and what are you really doing to enjoy it an making the best of your own life. Stop rushing through everything stop and smell the roses. I love this book, and will pass it on to someone else just like it was passed on to me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought Elizabeth Berg had read my mind while writing this book. I have read this book four times and enjoyed it everytime. I have given all my female freinds and relatives a copy of this book. I have enjoyed all of Elizabeth Berg's books. I bought Never Change - her brand new book and now - two days later- I am 3/4 of the way through it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read several of Ms. Berg's books and they are all so emotionally charged, they either make you cry or say way to go. This was definitely one of her best. I 'read' it through audio and the narrator was superb. I am only 33, but now I understand what changes can happen to a woman during menopause, both emotionally and physically. I could also see myself as she describes Nan as her daughter was growing up, wanting to be there for everything and yet feeling squeezed. This book lets you know that the going may be rough, but the end of the road can be better than you thought.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have loved loved loved many of Elizabeth Bergs books. I love her writing style and beautiful prose and relatable characters. But I could not get into this book. I could not like or relate to the narrator and although i kept trying to keep reading i finally gave up. I felt she was trying to be strong and independent and perhaps make some sigificant life changes but she came off as being selfish and kind of cruel and i just couldnt listen to her wining and self measurement any longer. Perhaps others can relate but for me it was not meant to be. Open House and What we Keep were much much better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It took a while for me to get used to this writer's style of long, run-on sentences. The book is written in the form of a diary and letters to the character's husband. At times I empathize with the character's reflections on life and self, yet overall she seems too self-absorbed. I believe she is seeking the meaning of life in her aimless road trip, but her overall journey left me feeling more sad than hopeful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quick read about women and their struggles.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Similar to Eat Pray Love, but much better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Started out good, ended up boring
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