A Sweet Tale of Life after Loss in Elizabeth Berg’s 'The Story of Arthur Truluv'

Dec 8, 2017


In the great unknown, there was one constant: everything would be all right.” That’s the basic belief of the main character in Elizabeth Berg’s new novel, The Story of Arthur Truluv.

Author Elizabeth Berg
Credit Teresa Crawford

Arthur Moses, aka Truluv, is an 85-year-old widower. At a glance, his life seems rather ordinary. He lives with his cat Gordon, he tends to his garden. But he visits his beloved deceased wife Nola’s grave every day at lunchtime, taking a simple sandwich and sometimes a baked good from his neighbor Lucille. He eventually crosses paths with another frequent graveyard visitor, the angsty 18-year-old Maddy Harris who also lost her mother at an early age.

Over time, Arthur, Maddy and Lucille form an unconventional family of sorts, guided in large part by Arthur’s quiet wisdom on the concepts of kindness, aging, acceptance, and the meaning of life itself. Berg says that Arthur was the character she fixated on before starting up on this book.

"I started with an image of an old man going out to a cemetery to sit beside his wife's grave," she says. "That's all I knew, is that he had a fold-up chair, that he brought his lunch, that the sandwich was wrapped in waxed paper, and that he sat there every day and communed with her."

Berg reveals that writing about Arthur and his pace of life was refreshing. "I think that in today's hectic world. We all, myself included, have a hard time slowing down to just look or just listen," she notes. "It's very rare that we just go out with no agenda whatsoever in order to appreciate everything that's around us... things that may be called simple or ordinary, but really are extraordinary." 

And with Arthur's appreciation comes acceptance - something else to aspire to, says Berg. "He's not a highly reactive person, which was such a pleasure for me to write about in these times when it seems like everyone's so highly reactive and divided," she says. 

Berg will be reading excerpts from The Story of Arthur Truluv at Boswell Books on Friday, December 8 at 7 pm.