In the opening sequence, Addie Moore, a 70 year old widow, invites her neighbor Louis, also a widower, to spend the night with her. She makes it clear from the beginning that it’s not about sex. “I’m talking about getting through the night. And lying warm in bed, companionably.” They proceed to do just that and stay up late talking in the dark. Their confessions are memorable and important and when Addie's grandson comes to stay with her for the summer some unforeseen complications arise.
The author, Kent Haruf, knew that he was dying as he wrote Our Souls at Night and knowing that fact made the dialog even more powerful for me as reader. The story itself is about loneliness, second chances, generational differences, and in the end, what the most important things are in life. This quiet book is rich with meaning and reflection and so much is said in so few words; the novel is just 179 pages in length. The relationships between familial generations may seem familiar and frustrating but that is what makes this last work of Haruf’s so beautiful and thought-provoking.
I found the writing, which is free of quotations, to be a bit jarring at first and thus chose to listen to the book on audio. I'm glad that I did because I found the male narrator to be quite pleasant in both tone and voice. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories about complex family relationships or small town life.