July 10

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Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Just a small book of 179 pages but just delightful. It was quite nice to have a small book to enjoy, an afternoon’s read.

Two lonely people in their 70’s have an amiable relationship but family and friends intercede to test the relationship and cause anguish. Addie Moore and Louis Waters have been neighbours for years. They both have lost their partners and now live alone in a small town. One night Addie pays Louise a visit to make him a rather surprising offer.

This is more than a love story. Skilfully written by Kent Haruf, he evokes wonderful feelings of tenderness and compassion. He introduces Addie’s grandson into the story. A little boy, whose mother and father are having marriage issues, comes to stay with Addie. She provides him with guidance and love and introduces him to Louis, who also steps in to help the boy, buying him a dog and watching over him.It is quite heartbreaking when the town gossips and even their children conspire against them and try to destroy the relationship.

Much of the book is taken up with Addie and Louis looking back on their lives, both characters regretting what they didn’t get right in their marriages. Each of these conversations, written by Haruf in plain, simple language, bring not only Addie and Louis a step closer to each other but also the reader closer to them. Life becomes more joyous for both of them and indeed the reader.

I enjoyed the “everydayness” of the novel, simple pleasures, a picnic, walking the dog, companionship. Age is no barrier for the desire to love and be loved and not have to endure loneliness. It shows that even late in life the possibilities of change and growth and happiness can still be celebrated.

The ending also raises matters of family obligation and sacrifices that lead to sorrow and even anger. It even moved me to anger when Addie’s son tries to manipulate the situation. His lack of empathy for his mother, his own self-centeredness and even greed, left me feeling heartbroken.

However, in the end Haruf does manage to leave us with a feeling of hope.

This was Kent Haruf’s seventh and final book. It was published after his death and is dedicated to his wife. I have heard that a movie is being made of the story and will be starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, which I think will be a good fit. (Posted by Joy)