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The Pull of the Moon

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Overview

In the middle of her life, Nan decides to leave her husband at home and begin an impromptu trek across the country, carrying with her a turquoise leather journal she intends to fill. The Pull of the Moon is a novel about a woman coming to terms with issues of importance to all women. In her journal, Nan addresses the thorniness—and the allure—of marriage, the sweet ties to children, and the gifts and lessons that come from random encounters with strangers, including a handsome man appearing out of the woods and a...
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The Pull of the Moon: A Novel

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Overview

In the middle of her life, Nan decides to leave her husband at home and begin an impromptu trek across the country, carrying with her a turquoise leather journal she intends to fill. The Pull of the Moon is a novel about a woman coming to terms with issues of importance to all women. In her journal, Nan addresses the thorniness—and the allure—of marriage, the sweet ties to children, and the gifts and lessons that come from random encounters with strangers, including a handsome man appearing out of the woods and a lonely housewife sitting on her front porch steps. Most of all, Nan writes about the need for the self to stay alive. In this luminous and exquisitely written novel, Elizabeth Berg shows how sometimes you have to leave your life behind in order to find it.
 
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Editorial Reviews

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

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345512178
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/23/2010
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 417,989
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Berg
Elizabeth Berg has published fiction and nonfiction and has been nominated for a National Magazine Award. She lives in Massachusetts.

Biography

Elizabeth Berg made her mark as a promising writer with the publication of her first novel, Durable Goods (1993), the story of Katie, a 12-year-old girl reeling from her mother's death while her abusive father drags her from town to town. The book, like Katie, was tough but tender, and the American Library Association named it a Best Book of the Year.

Since then, Berg has written subsequent novels, most of them, like Durable Goods, sincere, unpretentious, somewhat sentimental, and focused on an event that changes a woman's life. In Joy School (1997), a continuation of Katie's story, the crucible is her first taste of romance; in What We Keep (1998), it's a girl's abandonment by her mother; in Until the Real Thing Comes Along (1999), it's a woman's love for a gay man. All are grounded in the realistic minutiae of family life: irksome marriages, tempestuous parent-child relationships, love, betrayal, and resolution.

Although her books have received mixed reviews from critics, Berg remains immensely popular with readers who appreciate her fine powers of observation and honest descriptions. Her command of authentic details is on best display in her medically-themed titles. Before she became a full-time writer, Berg was a registered nurse, where she accumulated an endless store of observations related to sickness, healing, and the emotional toll that health crises take on people. In Range of Motion, Berg wrote about the experience of a comatose man; in Talk Before Sleep, about a nurse caring for a good friend who is succumbing to cancer; in Never Change, about a nurse treating an incurably ill man who also happens to have been a childhood acquaintance.

Although Berg's plots can occasionally be predictable, equally predictable is her taut, intelligent foray into the forces that shape ordinary people's lives -- especially women's lives -- and her exploration of the infinite resilience of the human spirit.

Good To Know

Berg had an experience she used for the straight-gay relationship in Until the Real Thing Comes Along: Her college love later came out to her after the two had broken up. The character of Ethan is modeled on that college boyfriend.

Berg hasn't managed to get her way when it comes to titling her books, usually getting overruled by her agent and editor. She wanted to call Durable Goods The King of Wands, after a tarot card; Range of Motion would have been Telling Songs; and Open House would have been The Hotel Meatloaf. Perhaps Berg should be thankful for her handlers?

Durable Goods was never meant to have a sequel, Berg says in a publisher's interview, but she ended up writing Joy School (and later True to Form) because she missed the original characters. Berg explains: "There was just a time when I was lying in the bathtub, and I thought about Katie, and I got out of the bathtub and started writing about her to see what she was up to."

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

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 43 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(17)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(7)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 43 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Astute observations and lovely writing style

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2001

    Every woman should read this no matter the age

    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!!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2006

    My First Berg Book

    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...

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2002

    Delightful

    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!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2001

    Getting in Touch with your inter self

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2001

    Reading my mind

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2000

    One of the greatest 'women' books ever!

    I loved this book! I am only 33, but during the book I kept thinking of my 54 yr old mom. It has really opened my eyes to her life & struggles, even though, like Nan, she is still married to & loves my dad/her husband. I read parts of the book out loud to my husband...who is a really good person but still just a man. :) Only women can really understand other women, and Elizabeth Berg gets it most of all. I am buying two more copies of this book - one for my mom, and one for my mom-in-law (who will probably also relate even if she won't admit it!).

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2000

    Eye-opening

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2013

    Not one of Bergs finer achievements

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2013

    Introspective self-analysis of an aging woman

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    Good mid-life crisis book.

    Quick read about women and their struggles.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2012

    Similar to Eat Pray Love, but much better.

    Similar to Eat Pray Love, but much better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2012

    Okay

    Started out good, ended up boring

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    Posted May 17, 2010

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    Posted June 20, 2010

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    Posted July 6, 2010

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    Posted June 23, 2010

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    Posted January 17, 2011

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    Posted July 9, 2010

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    Posted September 8, 2010

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 43 Customer Reviews

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