THE PULL OF THE MOON by Elizabeth Berg


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 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.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-679-44972-8
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1996


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