Tag Archives: Elizabeth Berg

The Confession Club : #3 Mason

Confession Club started accidentally. It used to be Third Sunday Supper Club . . . after a while, they decided to meet [weekly]. At each meeting someone confessed to something she’d done . . . And just like in church, it made people feel better . . .

My book club, the Blue Ridge Readers, just finished discussing Elizabeth Berg’s #2 book in the Mason, Missouri series – Night of Miracles. Someone says,”Did you know there is a new Elizabeth Berg book set in Mason?” The group votes unanimously, “Put it on the list for next season!”

You don’t need to read The Story of Arthur Truluv and the Night of Miracles to enjoy The Confession Club – but I recommend you do so. In any case, I want to give a thumbnail of each book in the series to entice you to read the entire series.

We had all fallen in love with Arthur Moses in Book #1 –The Story of Arthur Truluv. We were enchanted with the characters and felt like we should move to Mason, Missouri in these turbulent times. Sometimes you need to go a place where everyone knows your business and your neighbors accept you with all your warts, quirks and flaws. That kind of book that makes you feel good inside and out without being sappy or cookie-cutter cute.

Arthur  gave a homeless pregnant teenager (Maddy), abandoned by the child’s father, a place to live. We meet Arthur’s next-door-neighbor, Lucille and we fell in love with her eccentricities and hugged her when she needed it. In time, Lucille moves into Arthur’s house joining Maddy, her daughter, Nola, named after Arthur’s wife, and Arthur; together they form a loving family. When Arthur passes on to reunite with his beloved wife, we know he is in a better place.

Arthur’s home becomes the central setting for book #2 – the Night of Miracles. The house now belongs to Maddy. When Maddy completes college, she marries her college professor. The newlyweds move away leaving Lucille, alone, living in Maddy’s house. Lucille’s baking classes have become a booming success and she hires an assistant, Iris Winters; an unlikely choice as she doesn’t know the first thing about baking, to help her handle the financial and business aspects. Arthur’s loving presence is always there.

Book #3, The Confession Club, is once again is set in Mason, Missouri. Our beloved Lucille has passed on (not without giving the angel of death a run for his money). Iris Winters now lives in “Arthur’s” house and is carrying on Lucille’s baking classes. Maddy and Nola have inexplicably returned to Mason and moved back into the house with Iris.

The newest book opens with a cluster of  town women in a weekly meeting of the Confession Club commiserating with each other over mistakes and “naughty” moments in their past that they regret. The confidences are not exactly earth shaking but the fellowship with friends is the point of the whole exercise. In time, Iris and Maddy stumble on the group and soon become members.

The central stories involve Iris and Maddy.  Iris develops a relationship with an unlikely new love interest – a homeless man squatting in a remote abandoned house. As we learn more about the man, I am not sure that it is a healthy relationship but -hey – I’ll suspend my suspicion until the fourth book. Hint hint Elizabeth Berg. Meanwhile, Maddy and Nola’s sudden return to Mason, Missouri bewilders Iris along with the faithful fans of the first two books.

I will be honest. The Story of Arthur Truluv is my favorite. The next two books feel comfortable and easy. Reminds me of coming home to Grandma’s house and finding out what is new in town since my last trip to my old hometown.

Recommended women’s fiction.

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NIGHT OF MIRACLES: Arthur Truluv #2

Thank you, Netgalley for the copy of The Story of Arthur Truluv and thank you to my local library for a copy of Night of Miracles.

Lucille Howard, the baking matriarch of idyllic Mason, Missouri, insists that the success of any baking endeavor requires assembling the ingredients in advance. Following Lucille’s lead, I recommend reading Elizabeth Berg’s The Story of Arthur Truluv to fully enjoy Night of Miracles. The Story of Arthur Truluv is the cake’s basic layer and Night of Miracles is the frosting. If you liked watching the Andy Griffith Show with Andy, Opie and Aunt Bea, you will like both books.

The Story of Arthur Truluv is a tender story of love, loss, friendship, and acceptance. Arthur Moses, an elderly widower, mourns the loss of his wife, Nola and spends each day eating lunch at her grave-site. Tucked away from view in the same graveyard sits a young troubled teen, Maddy, spending her lonely lunch hours observing Arthur and his one-sided conversations with Nola. In time, they meet and form an enduring friendship. Lucille Howard, Arthur’s crotchety yet kind-hearted next door neighbor and friend, suffers the loss of her childhood true love, Frank, shortly after they are reunited in old age. Arthur’s kind heart draws the sorrowful and depressed Lucille into the circle of love he shares with Maddy. The trio becomes an unconventional family. Arthur, with one leg in the afterlife and the other seeded to the living world is the heart and soul of the book. Maddy, not without flaws, finds Arthur to be more than a surrogate grandfather. When she stumbles, she finds him to be a loyal and accepting friend. She calls him Truluv. Lucille finds a new purpose in life guided by Arthur and his eternal optimism and kindness. The ending is as it should be; Arthur gracefully slips into the next world and joins his beloved Nola.

Night of Miracles feels like a trip back to the old neighborhood. Life has moved things along. Maddy inherited Arthur’s house. When she and her daughter, Nola, (named for Arthur’s wife) left town to attend college, Lucille holds down the fort and continues to host her infamous baking classes to an ever growing number of students.

Maddy and Nola return to visit Grandma Lucille and you can feel the love and smell the fresh baked cookies in the cookie jar.

Our view of Mason, MO has widened and we meet more townsfolk and learn their personal stories. It seems that the good folks of Mason really like to eat. The story is primarily set in Lucille’s kitchen but a lot goes on at Polly’s Henhouse Diner.

Monika Mayhew, a waitress at the Henhouse has her eye on Tiny, a long-distance trucker and a giant of a man with heart of gold. Tiny is infatuated with Monika but extremely shy and fears rejection.

A new character, Iris escaping the aftereffects of her decision to divorce her husband, Ed, was heading for California from the East Coast and became charmed by a stop-over in Mason, MO. Her new neighbor is none other than Tiny. They enjoy each other’s company and soon become good friends. Tiny reveals his interest in Monika and Iris sets out to break the impasse between these two gun-shy lovers.

Meanwhile back in Lucille’s kitchen, Iris, in need of a job, and being more of a consumer than a baker, is hired to help with the odds and ends chores. Lucille, now 88, is well aware that her life’s journey will end soon. Lately her dreams have been filled with repetitive visits from a heavenly spirit wearing of all things, a flannel shirt. Despite his insistence that her time is up, Lucille banishes the thought and tells him to go away. She has more to do before she joins her friend, Arthur.

Our reading journey takes us through other homes where we experience sorrow, joy, love, fear, and hope. We cheer as Monika exhibits courage. We hug Tiny when his big heart is breaking. We share in Maddy’s joy at finding the man of her dreams. We are there to witness Lucille’s transition to the afterlife in a manner totally fitting her personality. The final chapter will make you laugh and cry and hope you get another chance to visit Mason, MO.

My one complaint? Why didn’t Lucille give us some of her recipes! I was constantly drooling. Maybe Elisabeth Berg will put out a cookbook of Lucille’s favorites!

Great books with a touch of spirituality, fantasy, and small town ambiance.

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