I loved every minute of this book, every page I spent with Addie and Louis and their burgeoning companionship and love.
Our Souls at Night, Kent Haruf’s final novel (the author passed away in 2014), is a sweet, gentle story of the friendship between two elderly neighbors, Addie Moore and Louis Waters, both of whom are widowed. When we meet Addie, she is paying a rare visit to Louis. Although the two have lived down the street from each other for years, they never really knew each other. In their younger adult years, they were each wrapped up in their own marriages, for better or worse, and raising their children.
Now, though, Addie’s had enough of solitude. After an awkward exchange in Louis’s kitchen, she puts it out there: She’s looking for someone to come over at night, to talk and cuddle in bed—was he interested? As you might imagine, Louis is surprised by her proposition and says he’ll think about it. The headstrong Addie says OK and goes home.
Of course, Louis decides to take her up on her offer, and we, too, begin a sweet, intimate relationship with these characters. Before turning on their sides and falling asleep each night, the two share life stories, including those of regret. They become each other’s confidant and best friend. It’s not love, exactly—at least not at first—but it’s a welcome companionship in an otherwise solitary life.
Soon, citizens of the small town begin to talk. Addie and Louis? Spending the night together? Scandalous! In the face of these whispers, Addie suggests taking their relationship public. The two have a daring lunch date in the middle of a busy restaurant, where they hold hands at the table.
Addie’s six-year-old grandson comes to stay when his father—her son—loses his job and his wife at the same time. Gradually, she introduces Jamie to Louis, with whom the boy becomes instantly enamored. With both Louis and Addie in bed together down the hall, Jamie’s nightmares end and he sleeps the sleep of the content.
When Addie’s son Gene returns—first to visit his son, and then to pick him up—he isn’t happy with this arrangement. How dare his elderly mother share her bed with this man who is not her husband? And how dare she do so in the presence of his son?
The question becomes, then, how Addie and Louis will deal with Gene’s anger and subsequent demands. Their remaining years are short; shouldn’t they be happy? But what does happiness look like in the face of a difficult choice?
I loved every minute of this book, every page I spent with Addie and Louis and their burgeoning companionship and love. Our Souls at Night is a fitting farewell from a well-loved and acclaimed author. Like his main characters, Haruf’s days were limited when he conceived of and brought Addie and Louis to life; also like the pair, he made the most of what time he had. Beautiful. | Laura Hamlett