18 May 2015

Review: Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Our Souls at Night by Kent HarufKent 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
ISBN-13: 9781101875896
Source: Review (audio) (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


(Diane) bookchickdi 5/18/15, 7:26 AM  

This is such a lovely review. I just got the book in the mail and after reading your review, I must open it and start reading.

JoAnn 5/18/15, 8:13 AM  

I loved Plainsong! Must read both Benediction and Our Souls at Night.

Jackie McGuinness 5/18/15, 8:58 AM  

New writer to me. I'm off to check the books out.

Jackie McGuinness 5/18/15, 9:00 AM  

HA! After writing my previous comment I went to Goodreads and found I had already tagged Plainsong as a want to read.

bermudaonion 5/18/15, 9:28 AM  

This sounds rather sad - I think I'd have to be in the right mood to tackle it.

Beth Hoffman 5/18/15, 9:51 AM  

Beautiful review, my friend.

OnDBookshelf 5/18/15, 11:06 AM  

I've read his previous books, and am sad that this will be his last. I'm definitely picking this one up, and will relish every page since I know these will be the last.

Daryl 5/18/15, 2:36 PM  

i had not ever heard of him, my loss ... but soon to be rectified

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 5/18/15, 10:31 PM  

I just finished listening to this and found it quite touching and emotional. This was a new to me author and I'm sad to hear he had recently passed away.

rhapsodyinbooks 5/19/15, 7:00 AM  

I also thought it sounded too sad to read!

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