Marian Beaman's Reviews > The Pull of the Moon

The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg
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really liked it
bookshelves: have-read
Read 2 times. Last read September 1, 2019.

When Nan hits the age of fifty, she hits the road in her version of self-discovery. Author Elizabeth Berg invites the reader to ride in the passenger seat of her black Mercedes in this very American, soul-searching travelogue. Evoking the most feminine of celestial bodies in her title, the moon, Elizabeth Berg suggests the journey may be magical and possibly irresistible: The Pull of the Moon.

We read books, novels especially, to allow us to escape, taking us to another destination. Sometimes the protagonist, herself, is on a journey, in this case 50-year-old Nan, menopausal and filled with angst, intent on leaving her home and husband, at least for a spell. Departing Boston, she travels West as far as South Dakota, all the while mailing home letters to her husband, to which she is obviously connected by a very, very long tether. Behind the wheel of her car, she travels farther than she’s ever imagined, visiting small towns, dropping in on “neighbors” she’s never met to sit down on the porch and chat a spell.

While Nan’s travel is mostly by car, we experience the slower motion of a stroll with Berg’s lyrical prose: “I’d forgotten all the pleasures of walking in a place like that—the slow twist of anxiety about a train coming when you are in a narrow spot, the crunch of gravel alongside the tracks, the splintery wooden slats beneath the rusty silver rail, the rare wild-flower in among the weeds, bowing to the breezes.”

I’ve read other Elizabeth Berg novels: Range of Motion, Talk Before Sleep, and others. She is my go-to when my mind needs a rest. Her books are usually an easy read, yet this one reminded me of more complex novels because the book is composed of letters. It is an epistolary novel, but not the high-flown fiction like Sam Richardson’s Pamela or even Mary Shaffer’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. Other books came to mind: Because the protagonist experiences boredom, I was reminded of the ennui of Mrs. Bridge in Evan Connell’s novel, though without the fear. Also, Berg’s novel was a bit like Harold Fly’s walking adventure in Rachel Joyce’s The Pilgrimage of Harold Fly. but with less grit.

Nan travels for transformation, each mile revealing to her how much she has kept hidden from her own self. In my opinion, this novel, published in 1996, is a great beach read, or one to curl up with on a rainy day.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
Started Reading
September 1, 2019 – Finished Reading
September 2, 2019 – Shelved as: have-read
September 2, 2019 – Shelved

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