Cover image for The pull of the moon
The pull of the moon
Berg, Elizabeth.
Personal Author:
Berkley trade paperback edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Berkley Books, 2000.

Physical Description:
193 pages ; 21 cm
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Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Library

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Follow one woman's inspiring journey in this heartwarming story by the New York Times bestselling author of The Story of Arthur Truluv and Night of Miracles .

How often have you wanted to drop everything and just go ? Well, this is exactly what Nan does one day: gets into her car and drives across the country, letting go of her daily troubles and embarking on a trip of self-discovery.

For Nan, a mid-life crisis becomes a mid-life opportunity: an opportunity to put herself first. Through conversations with people she meets, letters to her husband, and her diary entries, Nan walks along a path of self-care, mindfulness, and positivity that can reawaken and lift her spirit, as well as transform herself into the woman she wants to be.

Author Notes

Elizabeth Berg was born December 2, 1948 and educated at the University of Minnesota and at St. Mary's College.

Elizabeth Berg's first novel was "Durable Goods". "Talk Before Sleep" was a 1996 Abby Honor Book & a "New York Times" bestseller. "Range of Motion", "The Pull of the Moon", & "Joy School" were all critically acclaimed bestsellers. In 1996, she won the New England Booksellers Award for body of work. In 1997, she won the NEBA Award in fiction, and in 2000 became the author of an Oprah Book Club selection. Her book, The Dream Lover, is a New York Times 2015 bestseller.

(Bowker Author Biography) Elizabeth Berg's first novel was "Durable Goods". "Talk Before Sleep" was a 1996 Abby Honor Book & a "New York Times" bestseller. "Range of Motion", "The Pull of the Moon", & "Joy School" were all critically acclaimed bestsellers. In 1996, she won the New England Booksellers Award for body of work. In 1997, she won the NEBA Award in fiction, and in 2000 became the author of an Oprah Book Club selection. She lives in Chicago.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Nan turns 50 and hits the road, leaving behind her husband of 25 years and a daughter bound for college. At midlife, she is deeply unsatisfied with the way things are going. Alternating between diary entries and letters sent to her husband, Nan reveals her fear of aging and her encounters with people on the road, including hilarious conversations with a snobby hairdresser and a chatty waiter obsessed with angels. She takes the time to conquer small fears (sleeping outdoors) and to revel in small pleasures (shelling peas while rocking on a porch). She makes some concrete decisions on how she will change her life (build a smaller, more comfortable house, spend time cooking with her husband), and she doesn't end her trip until she's absolutely ready. Berg, also the author of Talk before Sleep (1994) and Range of Motion (1995), nimbly avoids all the obvious cliches of an all-too-familiar theme as she drives her narrative home with direct, heartfelt language. She has a real gift for imbuing ordinary lives with emotional weight and heft. --Joanne Wilkinson

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A woman in the grip of a midlife crisis jumps in her car and heads cross-country. Berg's previous novel, Range of Motion, was "highly recommended" (LJ 8/95). (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



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.   Nan     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?   Excerpted from The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.