Kent Haruf's Our Souls at Night
is the perfect ending for his run of novels about the fictional town of
Holt, Colorado. I've written about Haruf and his work before (Plainsong; Benediction) and will leave those posts to continue to speak for me.
Haruf finished this slim novel just days before he died at the age of seventy-one. It's hard to accept that is our last visit to Holt and the last time we'll be immersed in the ordinary lives of its citizens. I'm sure these thoughts heightened my emotional involvement with Our Souls at Night, but I can assure you that Haruf was at the top of his game until the last second.
This story focuses on Louis Waters and Addie Moore, both in their seventies, long-time widowed, and living alone. Although they are neighbors and Addie was a friend of Louis's late wife, the two don't really know each other, so Louis is initially taken aback when Addie comes for a visit and proposes something surprising: Will Louis consider spending the night at her house? She isn't interested in something physical, she simply misses the companionship of talking in the dark while lying in bed on the verge of sleep.
As with all of Haruf's books, Our Souls at Night is not full of drama or last-minute twists. Nor is it a fairy tale romance. Instead, it's a look at the everyday life of two people trying to find a way out of loneliness while preserving their dignity and independence and honoring their pasts.
Read this one slowly. You'll want to savor every moment of Addie and Louis's developing relationship: their uncertainty in the early days, their nighttime confessions, the pettiness of those who don't understand, the simple joys of a summer afternoon, the sorrows of what cannot be.
Kent Haruf will be missed, but Holt, Colorado, lives on in my heart. I hold tight to the promise of hope.
For more about Kent Haruf--his life and work--see this New York Times article and especially this one from the Wall Street Journal (have a few tissues handy). Our Souls at Night is a standalone novel and is perhaps Haruf's most personal.
Audiobook fans shouldn't miss the outstanding performance by Mark Bramhall, who also read Benediction. See my review for AudioFile magazine.
Random House / Knopf, May 26, 2015
Source: Review (audio) (see review policy)
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