The Pull of the Moon

The Pull of the Moon

by Elizabeth Berg


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The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg

"Not a novel about a woman leaving home, but . . . a human being finding her way back." —Chicago Tribune

"Turning 50 seems to turn women crazy. When Nan hits this mark, she hits the road, leaving behind her home and husband. Driving west from Boston, she consults only her own pleasure. And while this sounds easy, it is often arduous for Nan, who can hardly remember what her own pleasure is . . . The Pull of the Moon is upbeat from beginning to end." —Boston Sunday Globe

"Measured, delicate, and impossible to walk away from." —Entertainment Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425176481
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/28/2000
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 1,257,934
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.55(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About 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.


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.

Read an Excerpt

Dear Martin,
I know you think I keep that green rock by my bed because I like its color. And I do like its color. But the reason I keep it by my bed is that oftentimes I wake up frightened, and it comforts me to hold it then. I squeeze it. I lie on my side away from you and I squeeze the rock and look out the window and think that outside are rocks just like this one, lying still and strong and silent. They are beside rivers in Egypt and in fields in Germany and at the center of the desert and on the moon. The rock seems to act as a conduit, drawing out of me whatever it is that is making my heart race, whatever is making me feel as though my own soul is one step ahead of me, saying don’t come. Don’t bother. Martin, I am fifty years old. The time of losses is upon me. Maybe that’s it. I don’t know. I saw Kotex in the drugstore the other day and began to weep. Then I saw a mother with a very little girl, helping her pick out crayons, and this, too, undid me. I had to leave without buying what I came for. I drove home and I thought about Ruthie standing next to me as I lay on the couch one day. She was two and a half, holding Legos in the basket of her hands. I had a mild case of flu; I was mostly just exhausted. And Ruthie dropped the Legos on me and used my chest to build a small city and I was perfectly happy. I think I even knew it. It was that Chinese thing, that when your mind is in your heart, you are happy.
You know, Martin, when Ruthie was a freshman in high school, I was driving home from the grocery store one day and listening to the radio and I all of a sudden realized that in four years she would be gone. And I felt like screaming. Not because I have nothing else in my life. Just because she would be gone. I pulled over and I wept so hard the car was shaking, and then I repaired my makeup in the rearview mirror, and then I came home and made dinner and I never said a thing about it, although maybe I should have. Maybe I should have started telling you then. I was afraid, I think, that you would say, “Well, she’ll visit,” and the feeling would have been of all my eggs being walked on by boots.
I’m sorry the note I left you was so abrupt. I just wanted you to know I was safe. But I shouldn’t have said I’d be back in a day or two. I won’t be back for awhile. I’m on a trip. I needed all of a sudden to go, without saying where, because I don’t know where. I know this is not like me. I know that. But please believe me, I am safe and I am not crazy, I felt as though if I didn’t do this I wouldn’t be safe and I would be crazy.
I have no idea what will happen next. I am in a small Holiday Inn one hundred and eighty miles from home. I have a view of the pool. Beside me I have a turquoise journal, tooled leather, held closed by a thin black strap wrapped around a silver button. I bought it the day before I left. Normally, that kind of thing would not appeal to me. But it seemed I had to have it. I opened it, looked at the unlined pages, closed it back up and bought it. It was far too expensive, forty dollars, but it seemed to me to be capable of giving me something I’d pay more for. I thought, I’m going to buy this journal and then I’m going to run away. And that’s what I did.
I don’t mean this to be against you. I don’t mean any of it to be against you. Or even about you. I have felt for so long like I am drowning. And we are so fixed in our ways I couldn’t begin to tell you all that has happened inside me. It was like this: I would be standing over you pouring your coffee and looking down at your thinning hair and I would be loving you, Martin, but I would feel as though I were on a ship pulling away from the shore. As though the fact of your sitting there in your usual spot with cornflakes and orange juice was the most fantastic science fiction. I would put the coffeepot back on the warmer and sit opposite you and talk about what was in the newspaper, and inside me would be a howling so fierce I couldn’t believe the sounds weren’t coming out of my eyes, out of my ears, from beneath my fingernails. I couldn’t believe we weren’t both astonished—made breathless—at this sudden excess in me, this unmanageable mess. There were a couple of times I tried to start telling you about it. But I couldn’t do it. There were no words. As even now, there are not. Not really.
I’ll call Ruthie. I’ll tell her. You can tell everyone else anything you want. I mean this kindly, Martin.
I’ll write you often. I don’t want to talk. Please Well. You know, I write that word please and I don’t have any idea what to say after it. But please. And can you believe this? I love you.
I think the last time I had a diary I was eleven years old. At the top of every page, I would say what we had for dinner. That was the most interesting part. I thought filthy was thilthy. “Todd Lundgren is thilthy!” I wrote. Because I saw him at a party putting his hands up Maria Gonzales’s skirt. She was wearing nylons and her garters were sticking out because her skirt was pushed up so high.
Well, this is probably not what I should say.
But why not.
I know a woman who tapes pictures in her diary, presses flowers in it, she has the clipping from when John Lennon was shot. Well, she says, it’s mine, for me, for whatever I want.
I bought this black pen for you. I feel shy saying this, as though we are friends too new to exchange anything without it being too important.
I have a picture to give you, too. Here is a forties photograph of a woman that I found in last Sunday’s paper. She is seated on the grass, wearing a suit and a hat, her purse centered in her lap. She is smiling, but her eyes ache, and behind her, I know this, her hands are clenched. She can’t relax. She has forgotten the grass. I kept staring at her, thinking, this is me. Checking my purse three times for keys before I leave the house. Stacking mail in order of the size of the envelopes. Answering the phone every single time it rings, writing “paper towels” on the grocery list the second after I use the last one. I too have forgotten the grass. But I used to do one-handed cartwheels and then collapse into it for the fine sight of the blades close up. And there was no sense of any kind of time. And I was not holding in my stomach or thinking what does my opinion mean to others. I was not regretting any part of myself. There was only sun-rich color, and smell, and the slight give of the soft earth beneath me. My mind was in my heart, anchored like a bright kite in a safe place.
I think I will not use a map. And I think I would like to stop at a house now and then and ask any woman I find there, how are you doing? No, but really. How are you doing?

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.

Customer Reviews

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Pull of the Moon 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 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.
BinnieBee on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Lovely book! If only we all had the time, money and imagination to do this!
lorabear on LibraryThing 7 days ago
Why I chose it...Love Elizabeth Berg. What I thought...Found this book to be hilarioius, laugh out loud funny...had to pass it on as soon as I was done so others could laugh with me....LOVED this book.
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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