OUR SOULS AT NIGHT

AUTHOR:  Kent Haruf

GENRE:  Fiction

Available @ AMAZON

REVIEWER:  Pistol Annie

RATING:  4 Stars

BOOK BLURB:

A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.

Their brave adventures – their pleasures and their difficulties – are hugely involving and truly resonant, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature.

Growing old isn’t easy – and sometimes it’s downright depressing.  I’m saying this from experience – years of it!  Thank God and authors for books that provide an easy escape on most days from the doldrums of these “golden years.”

Taking one for Team Retirement, I excitedly dove into a sea of senior moments in Our Souls at Night, both the book and Netflix production.  Not only did I find the book to be very touching and realistic in its plight, but it was an additional treat to watch the movie as Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, seniors themselves, portray Louis and Addie.  Both looking vibrant for oldies but goodies, too. However, I was much more impressed by Mr. Haruf’s exquisitely written original story as opposed to the watered-down screenplay version.  Somewhere in the screening edits, it lost some of its charm and gusto — except for Robert Redford, of course!  But I’m reviewing the book – not the movie.

Like most of Haruf’s other novels, this story takes place in the picturesque setting of Holt, Colorado, a small town where you’ll find flowers lining the sidewalks, tin awnings over the windows and white-picket fences wrapped around the homes, and oh yes, plenty of nosy neighbors and town gossips — and the men are just as guilty as the women.  Details are an essential part of making any story magical.  Using a spectrum of colorful words and phrases, Haruf builds a vivid world that makes all the difference in just reading words and what brings a book to life.

Addie Moore, a widow for many years, approaches her neighbor, Louis Waters, a widower, with an offer she hopes he won’t refuse.  When Addie suggests that they spend their nights together in the same bed, Louis is a bit shocked.  He must consider it for a day or so.  Soon he’s the one knocking on Addie’s backdoor for fear his visit will have the neighbors gossiping and ruin Addie’s reputation.  

Now don’t go thinking that this is Fifty Shades of Geriatric Grey (I stole borrowed this reference to Fifty Shades from somewhere and I don’t remember where!  Lest you forget, I’m elderly, too).  But kudos to the unknown for their cleverness.

Addie’s proposition was clearly set out and specifically defined as a platonic nightly sleepover.  Just for comfort — as a sleep aid.  Both have lost their spouses, are settled into their seventies, with their days boring and lonely — the nights even more so.  As the two settle into their nightly ritual, their conversations deepen, and they develop new and stronger feelings — best friends.  Before long, they are side-by-side each day as well.  Their lives take on a whole new look and meaning.  It’s fun to face each day again.  And it is here where you’ll find the author’s real sense of humor as it easily wiggles its way into the dialogue.

The focus is always on the growing relationship between Addie and Louis.  However, Jamie, Addie’s young grandson has a strong supporting role.  As the elders try to keep young Jamie entertained, it not only adds another dimension to the relationship, but more responsibilities.  The camping trip with the three, accompanied by the new pet was probably one of my favorite parts of this story.  But, as with life in general, there’s always a cloud or two.  And so it goes when both Addie’s son and Louis’s daughter enter the picture and stir the dust up.  

I don’t really want to spoil another reader’s enjoyment by saying more in regards to the happenings you’ll find within the pages of this neatly packaged gem.  Two strong characters who refuse to “go gently into the night” as old age has them in its clutches.  This is a great reminder of how life can and should be with support and friendship at its center right up to the very end. 

Delightful, funny, sad, and thought-provoking.  A good read with a lesson for all – both old and young.  I wish Redford would ring my doorbell to say he’s lonely — I guarantee I wouldn’t need a day or two to think about accepting his offer — whatever! 

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