A senior-aged widow and widower forge a loving bond over shared loneliness and respective histories, provoking local gossip and the disapproval of their grown children in ways that are further complicated by an extended visit by a sad young grandchild. - (Baker & Taylor)
Addie Moore and Louis Waters, a widow and widower each living alone, forge a loving bond over their shared loneliness, provoking local gossip and the disapproval of their grown children in ways that are further complicated by an extended visit by a sad young grandchild. - (Baker & Taylor)
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. - (Random House, Inc.)
And then there was the day when Addie Moore made a call on Louis Waters. It was an evening in May just before full dark.
They lived a block apart on Cedar Street in the oldest part of town with elm trees and hackberry and a single maple grown up along the curb and green lawns running back from the sidewalk to the two-story houses. It had been warm in the day but it had turned off cool now in the evening. She went along the sidewalk under the trees and turned in at Louis’s house.
When Louis came to the door she said, Could I come in and talk to you about something?
They sat down in the living room. Can I get you something to drink? Some tea?
No thank you. I might not be here long enough to drink it. She looked around. Your house looks nice.
Diane always kept a nice house. I’ve tried a little bit.
It still looks nice, she said. I haven’t been in here for years.
She looked out the windows at the side yard where the night was settling in and out into the kitchen where there was a light shining over the sink and counters. It all looked clean and orderly. He was watching her. She was a good-looking woman, he had always thought so. She’d had dark hair when she was younger, but it was white now and cut short. She was still shapely, only a little heavy at the waist and hips.
You probably wonder what I’m doing here, she said.
Well, I didn’t think you came over to tell me my house looks nice.
No. I want to suggest something to you.
Yes. A kind of proposal.
Not marriage, she said.
I didn’t think that either.
But it’s a kind of marriage-like question. But I don’t know if I can now. I’m getting cold feet. She laughed a little. That’s sort of like marriage, isn’t it.
It can be.
Yes. Well, I’m just going to say it.
I’m listening, Louis said.
I wonder if you would consider coming to my house sometimes to sleep with me.
What? How do you mean?
I mean we’re both alone. We’ve been by ourselves for too long. For years. I’m lonely. I think you might be too. I wonder if you would come and sleep in the night with me. And talk.
He stared at her, watching her, curious now, cautious.
You don’t say anything. Have I taken your breath away? she said.
I guess you have.
I’m not talking about sex.
No, not sex. I’m not looking at it that way. I think I’ve lost any sexual impulse a long time ago. I’m talking about getting through the night. And lying warm in bed, companionably. Lying down in bed together and you staying the night. The nights are the worst. Don’t you think?
Yes. I think so.
I end up taking pills to go to sleep and reading too late and then I feel groggy the next day. No use at all to myself or anybody else.
I’ve had that myself.
But I think I could sleep again if there were someone else in bed with me. Someone nice. The closeness of that. Talking in the night, in the dark. She waited. What do you think?
I don’t know. When would you want to start?
Whenever you want to. If, she said, you want to. This week.
Let me think about it.
All right. But I want you to call me on the day you’re coming if that happens. So I’ll know to expect you.
I’ll be waiting to hear from you.
What if I snore?
Then you’ll snore, or you’ll learn to quit.
He laughed. That would be a first.
She stood and went out and walked back home, and he stood at the door watching her, this medium-sized seventy-year-old woman with white hair walking away under the trees in the patches of light thrown out by the corner street lamp. What in the hell, he said. Now don’t get ahead of yourself.
The next day Louis went to the barber on Main Street and had his hair cut short and neat, a kind of buzz cut, and asked the barber if he still shaved people and the barber said he did, so he got a shave too. Then he went home and called Addie and said, I’d like to come over tonight if that’s still all right.
Yes, it is, she said. I’m glad.
He ate a light supper, just a sandwich and a glass of milk, he didn’t want to feel heavy and laden in her bed, and then he took a long hot shower and scrubbed himself thoroughly. He trimmed his fingernails and toenails and at dark he went out the back door and walked up the back alley carrying a paper sack with his pajamas and toothbrush inside. It was dark in the alley and his feet made a rasping noise in the gravel. A light was showing in the house across the alley and he could see the woman in profile there at the sink in the kitchen. He went on into Addie Moore’s backyard past the garage and the garden and knocked on the back door. He waited quite a while. A car drove by on the street out front, its headlights shining. He could hear the high school kids over on Main Street honking their horns at one another. Then the porch light came on above his head and the door opened.
What are you doing back here? Addie said.
I thought it would be less likely for people to see me.
I don’t care about that. They’ll know. Someone will see. Come by the front door out on the front sidewalk. I made up my mind I’m not going to pay attention to what people think. I’ve done that too long—all my life. I’m not going to live that way anymore. The alley makes it seem we’re doing something wrong or something disgraceful, to be ashamed of.
I’ve been a schoolteacher in a little town too long, he said. That’s what it is. But all right. I’ll come by the front door the next time. If there is a next time.
Don’t you think there will be? she said. Is this just a one-night stand?
I don’t know. Maybe. Minus the sex part of that, of course. I don’t know how this will go.
Don’t you have any faith? she said.
In you, I do. I can have faith in you. I see that already. But I’m not sure I can be equal to you.
What are you talking about? How do you mean that?
In courage, he said. Willingness to risk.
Yes, but you’re here.
*Starred Review* The latest novel by the highly regarded author of Plainsong (1999), Eventide (2004), and Benediction (2013) is also, sadly, his last novel; Haruf died in November 2014. It will occur to readers that even one more word added to this short and spare narrative would break Haruf's perfect harmony of place (a small town on the relatively empty Colorado plains), population (no-frills people just trying to maintain a decent existence), and plot (centering on two senior citizens seeking companionship). Addie Moore has lost her husband, and one day she boldly invites a neighbor, widower Louis, whom she does not know well, to come spend the night sleeping with her (chastely, just so that she may have someone to talk to and confide in during those particularly lonely early-morning hours). Meanwhile, Addie's grown son is in a troubled marriage, and because of that, he dumps his son on her. Her grandson's boyish energy attracts Louis even more than it does Addie, and once Louis gets the boy a dog, the three—no, the four, including the delightfully affectionate new pooch—form a new family unit from the spare parts surrounding them. The joy of love and togetherness drove Haruf to write his beautiful fiction in this novel as in previous ones, and his especially tender voice got his point across in quiet, intimate tones. High-Demand Backstory: The high critical and popular regard in which Haruf was held will guarantee library interest in his last novel. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
The recently deceased Haruf laid claim to impressive awards (e.g., Whiting Writers' Award) and nominations (the National Book Award), and his Plainsong, Eventide, and Benediction have sold 1.4 million copies combined. Here he has continued his winning meditative-cozy approach in another novel set in Holt, CO. Widower Louis Waters is initially thrown when the widowed Addie Moore suggests that they spend time together, in bed, to stave off loneliness, but soon they are exchanging the confidences and memories that form the rich undercurrent of this work.
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Library Journal Reviews
In this last novel written before his death in November 2014, acclaimed novelist Haruf (Benediction) captures small-town life to perfection in his signature spare style. Addie Moore and Louis Waters have been neighbors in the eastern Colorado farming town of Holt for over 40 years. Now, alone except for visits from their grown children, Addie has asked Louis to come over every evening and to stay with her in bed, just to get through the lonely nights. Louis is not a risk taker, but he's lonely, too, and so begins their companionable routine, as they talk not only about trivial matters but also about important things in the past: his affair with a local teacher, her daughter's death at age 11. Unfortunately, Addie's bullying son Gene interferes. After leaving his son Jamie with Addie for the summer, during which time the troubled boy's behavior improves markedly, Gene sees what is going on and issues an ultimatum that forces Addie to make a difficult choice. VERDICT Haruf gives a delicate touch to Addie and Louis, their enjoyment of simple pleasures, their disappointments and compromises. Poignant and eloquent, this novel resonates beyond the pages. Don't miss this exceptional work from a literary voice now stilled. [See Prepub Alert, 11/25/14.].—Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Palisade, CO
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Publishers Weekly Reviews
Within the first three pages of this gripping and tender novel, Addie Moore, a 70-year-old widow, invites her neighbor, Louis Waters, to sleep over. "No, not sex," she clarifies. "I'm talking about getting through the night. And lying warm in bed, companionably." Although Louis is taken off guard, the urgency of Addie's loneliness does not come across as desperate, and her logic will soon persuade him. She reasons that they're both alone (Louis's wife has also been dead for a number of years) and that, simply, "nights are the worst." What follows is a sweet love story, a deep friendship, and a delightful revival of a life neither of them was expecting, all against the backdrop of a gossiping (and at times disapproving) small town. When Addie's six-year-old grandson arrives for the summer, Addie and Louis's relationship is tested but ultimately strengthened. Addie's adult son's judgment, however, is not so easily overcome. In this book, Haruf, who died in 2014, returns to the landscape and daily life of Holt County, Colo., where his previous novels (Plainsong, Eventide, The Tie That Binds) have also been set, this time with a stunning sense of all that's passed and the precious importance of the days that remain. (May)
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