My dear friend Ms S advised me to read The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg. As we find ourselves rapidly pacing through our forties, the daunting fifties seem to be knocking at the door. The kids are growing older and the concerns of young children are no longer ours to share. Who knows what the next ten years hold for us in terms of time with our husbands and the menopause. How are we going to feel? How do we feel about growing older? Does reading Elizabeth Berg help?
The answer for me is perhaps perverse, in so far as reading Berg actually made me feel younger. The Pull of the Moon was originally published in 1996 and the main character, Nan who is of course fifty, felt much older to me. We read so much today about how forty is the new thirty and all the numbers in between, but could this actually be true? Am I younger than my mother was at the same age and have the last twenty years dramatically changed how old women feel?
Nan takes off, in crisis, driving away from her husband Martin. She needs a break, a change from where they are at in life. She loves him, but needs space and so goes, but at each stop writes to him about her experiences. Berg’s story is beautiful, full of home truths and memories of a life spent together. Gentle is the word that springs to mind, an easy but lovely read. The thing is that Nan, to me feels more like she’s sixty. She doesn’t strike a chord with what I see of my friends turning fifty, or how I envisage I will feel in the next four years. Maybe this is because I had my children later than Nan, but I think it’s also true that the generations are changing. We are staying younger longer or at least trying to and that is not a bad thing.
If it’s possible to read a book that is twenty-two years old and end up feeling ahead of the game, then I guess that’s me.