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The Pull of the Moon: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle) Paperback – March 23, 2010

3.9 out of 5 stars 193 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Berg (Range of Motion, LJ 8/95) uses letters and diary entries to tell the story of 50-year-old Nan, who is coming to terms with her place in society as an older woman. The letters, written to her husband, attempt to explain her unplanned cross-country flight. The diary entries allow Nan to probe deeper into her past and to explore the reasons for her loss of self-esteem. Conveniently, Nan is a woman of privilege traveling in relative comfort, with no concern for the financing of her trip. Her letters to her husband include instructions to contact their architect so that on her return they can plan a new house she describes in fanciful detail. She has little or no anxiety about how her husband might react to her flight, and there seems to be nothing in her life beyond her relationship with him and with her college-age daughter. Berg's somewhat superficial treatment of an individual in transition is not altogether satisfying. Recommended for larger public libraries.?Rebecca A. Stuhr-Rommereim, Grinnell Coll. Libs., Ia.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Random House Reader's Circle
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (March 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345512170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345512178
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #771,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have never read a book that was so exquisitely tuned into the mind and feelings of the human condition. The lead character is turning 50 years old and decides to take a road trip. Oh, she's not headed anywhere special on the map, but this trip couldn't be more important.
As Nan meanders across the country on those back roads that only the towns people use, she is content to pull up and set for a spell on the porch of a woman that seems to know exactly why she came, though the two have never met. She sits down to meals in diners with complete strangers and finds she has more in common with them than she might expect.
Along the way she writes letters to her husband, honestly pouring her heart out to him, letting him know how their comfortable day to day saunter through life may not always have been all that was expected. The trip is a revelation for both of them in the end.
This is a coming of age book, it points out the wisdom that gradually permeates the mind and spirit as we ripen with time. I can't begin to tell you how revealing Berg's insights are, I got the feeling that she went through life taking notes on all of those little things that we experience and never give a thought to, little, insidious things that can impact our outlook on life in the most profoundest of manners. Read this book and I promise you won't be disappointed, you will find yourself in the midst of more than your share of "a-hah" moments and this book will make you realize just what a comforting thing that can be. 12/10/00
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Elizabeth Berg's THE PULL OF THE MOON is the story of Nan, and her search for herself. She's in her 50's and has decided to leave her husband (temporarily) and travel the country, looking for what, she does not know. She sends letters to her husband Martin throughout this entire trip, revealing to the reader what is going on in her head as she goes from town to town, doing things she enjoyed doing but felt her husband never understood. She finds joy in the little things, taking time to talk to people along the way.
A lot of her letters are angry, some are sad. She loves her husband, but as many women feel as they approach middle age, she feels burnt out and neglected. She's been taken for granted, and she wants to change it all.
I think a lot of women will be able to relate to Nan and her journey to find herself. It's an easy read; took me only a few days to finish. I'm not 50 yet, but I could understand her frustrations. Elizabeth Berg is the master of "chick books" I think, and I always come away from one of her books with a "I can relate!" feeling. If you are an Elizabath Berg fan, this is another great read!
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Format: Paperback
When I enjoyed this slim change-of-life novel, I enjoyed it very much. When I did not, well, it was a sore disappointment. Berg's work has, in the past, rated high on my fiction likes, but unfortunately I won't be adding this novel to my Berg favorites.

And still. There was, as I stated earlier, much that I did enjoy about it. "The Pull of the Moon" is about Nan, apparently a financially well-off woman (because it is one of the lackings in this story that Nan does what she does with such carefree extravagance with nary a care about how to pull such things off in the "real world" most of us live in), turning 50 and not quite ready for it. This is the story of her midlife crisis. Maybe not so much a crisis to her, though, as one wonders if it might seem so to Martin, the husband she leaves behind as she suddenly takes off on a cross-country road trip to find herself at midlife. We never do find out how Martin feels about this. The book consists merely of Nan's letters back to him, one would assume posted and mailed, and the tone is usually one of "here I am, having these fine adventures without you, I'll fill you in when it suits me to return home." Nor does it ever seem to occur to her that Martin may not so readily welcome her home.

Okay, so it's an interesting journey. And Nan fulfills perhaps several fantasies of the aging woman. Taking off into the wild blue yonder with no apron strings attached. Ah, yes. If only. She travels where whim leads her, and en route has occasion to contemplate her life backwards and forwards. Many of us in the same age range, I'm sure, will identify with Nan's musings and meditations on a woman at this stage.
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By A Customer on July 7, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the story of a bored, rich housewife with too much time and money on her hands. She feels unsatisfied with her life at fifty--like all of her best years have passed her by--and her solution is not to try a new career, do some volunteering, or see a therapist. Instead she opts for the dramatic route and hops in her Mercedes for a solo cross-country road trip, writing increasingly insipid letters to her poor husband as she continues on her way.
Nan whines and complains about how her husband doesn't appreciate her, but we never see much about her to appreciate. Apparently he is the breadwinner, and for that he is chastised because a) they have too much money and b) he is preoccupied and c) he never followed his original dream of becoming a scientist. Yet someone has to earn the money to pay for the Mercedes, the road trip and the beach house that Nan insists they buy and decorate according to her exact specifications. For someone who boldly accuses Martin of making too much money, Nan sure does have expensive and particular tastes. It also takes a lot of chutzpah to accuse her husband of "selling out" when Nan never even reveals what, if any, dreams she ever had. She certainly gives us no indication that she has realized any of them, either.
I am not against the idea of a middle-aged woman "running away" from her life. I loved the novel "Ladder of Years" by Anne Tyler. But in that novel, we are shown what the protagonist is running from. In this one, the only indication we are given about why Nan runs away is that her husband is preoccupied and she feels old. I'm sorry, but there are too many women out there worried about feeding their families, making house payments, balancing jobs and families, etc. to make my heart bleed for Nan.
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