The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg. Random House 2017. 218 pp.
Arthur Truluv is widowed. He and his wife never had children and he lives alone with a cat, Gorden -which as cats are prone to do- lives on his own terms and interacts with Arthur when it suits him. His next door neighbor is Lucille, a widow. After Arthur’s evening walk he usually joins her on her porch and is given cookies, which she has baked for him to take home. She is a wonderful cook.
Other than that, the main activity of his day is going to visit his wife Nola’s grave. He packs a lunch, walks to a nearby bus stop, and goes to the cemetery. He sits by her grave, talking and telling her how much he loves her and misses her.
One day, he meets teenager, Maddy, who also hangs out in the cemetery just for someplace to go. Her mother had died when she was two weeks old, and she had been raised by her father, who is not doing a very good job of it. He is a good man, but there is not a lot of communication between them. Maddy does not know why, but she is picked on by the girls at school and has no friends. She does have a boyfriend that she sneaks out at night to meet.
These three lonely people become friends, but you will have to read the story to find out how it ends. It is such a comforting and gentle tale. It is a perfect book to read doing our current troubled times.
The Fortnight in September by R.C. Sherriff. Persephone Boss, 1931. 326 pp.
This is a story about a family living in England in Dulwich, a small town not far from London. It is the Stevens family – a man and his wife, Mary; a nineteen year old daughter; Dick, a son nearly seventeen; and Ernie, who is ten years old. For twenty years they have taken a two week vacation every September at Bognor on the ocean. (I had never heard of this town, so I looked it up in an atlas. It is on the south coast of England.)
The story begins on the evening before they leave on their yearly trip. Each one of them has a responsibility for getting ready to go. They look forward with great enthusiasm because they have loved every vacation. They will drive to the station in Clapham to take the train to Bognor. The trip on the train shows how they look forward to their vacation as they remark about every familiar scene they pass.
At Bognor, they always stay at a house called Seaview, owned by Mrs. Huggett, another character in the story. They will be served tea and then take a walk to the beach where it is very windy. Mr. Stevens will rent one of the little huts on the beach for their two weeks. This one is called “the Cuddy.”
Gradually, the reader gets to know all the characters. Mrs. Stevens is the only one who does not love the ocean, but she does not let her family know. Mr. Stevens is the kind of father one approves of. Mary, nearly 20, is working now, but not sure of her situation. Dick is also working, but hoping for a change in his life.
The book ends as they are saying goodbye to Mrs. Huggett. This is a very simple story, but one that I don’t believe I will ever forget.