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Earth's the Right Place for Love


Earth's the Right Place for Love

Elizabeth Berg has written dozens of novels. This time, at the suggestion of her editor (which she reveals in her acknowledgments), she decided to return to one of her most beloved characters and explore more of his life story.

"It is very rare --- almost never, really --- that I take suggestions from someone about what to write. I need to follow my own impulses; and I also worry that if I take a suggestion from someone else, I will have to live up to their expectations." In this case, the suggestion was a very good one. EARTH'S THE RIGHT PLACE FOR LOVE revisits Arthur Moses, who, when readers met him in THE STORY OF ARTHUR TRULUV, was an older man, grieving the recent loss of his wife.

"Readers will enjoy becoming reacquainted not only with Arthur but with the town of Mason, which is populated with colorful secondary characters whose stories are revealed gradually."

It's 1947, and Arthur is a sophomore in high school. He lives in Mason, Missouri, the kind of small town where everyone knows everybody else, and a random acquaintance will probably let your folks know if they see you skipping school or hanging with the wrong kind of crowd. Everyone looks out for everybody else, which can be good or bad. Arthur loves life in Mason, but his older brother Frank, a high school senior, finds it to be stifling. An aspiring writer, he dreams of moving to New York City after graduation --- and imagines bringing his girlfriend with him.

Arthur idolizes Frank, not only for his skill with words but for his easy way with girls. He pines after a fellow sophomore, Nola, who comes to view him as a friend and confidante, but makes no secret of the fact that she has a crush on Frank. Rather than grow frustrated or resentful, Arthur focuses on being a good friend to Nola and a great listener, a skill he also practices with the older women for whom he does odd jobs on Saturday mornings.

The one thing Arthur wishes he could change about Frank is the way that he antagonizes their father, who has a violent temper, especially since his milk-delivering business has never really rebounded after the war. Arthur, who abhors conflict, often serves as peacemaker. But when tragedy strikes, the Moses family dynamic --- and Arthur himself --- will never be the same.

Readers will enjoy becoming reacquainted not only with Arthur but with the town of Mason, which is populated with colorful secondary characters whose stories are revealed gradually. Berg's fiction is always charmingly old-fashioned but never saccharine. She includes just the right amount of rough edges to keep Mason from feeling too idyllic or Frank from seeming too perfect.

Those who have read THE STORY OF ARTHUR TRULUV will especially appreciate seeing the ways in which Berg plants the seeds of Arthur's older self in this more youthful version. For example, near the end of EARTH'S THE RIGHT PLACE FOR LOVE, Arthur visits the cemetery and begins conversing with the voices of the dead --- which is exactly where the action picks up again nearly 70 years later. Those who haven't read the earlier book will certainly want to pick it up to gain a fuller picture of Arthur's life.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on March 24, 2023

Earth's the Right Place for Love
by Elizabeth Berg

  • Publication Date: March 26, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0593446801
  • ISBN-13: 9780593446805