Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Our Souls at Night has been on the book club and must-read circuit for a few years and recently was made into a Netflix film staring, inexplicably to my mind, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. (I have not seen the film, but viewers say that Redford and Fonda are credible in their roles. Fonda especially seems to be enjoying a comeback of sorts playing age accurate roles—see Frankie and Johnnie, also Netflix.)
In Souls at Night, lonely widow Addie Moore approaches her neighbor Louis Waters with a bold request. Can Moore, also single, spend the night at her house? What begins as an awkward adventure leads to a meaningful affair that unwittingly upends relations with family and neighbors.
The story reminded me of the original Germanic fairy tales– Grimm’s before Disney prettied them up- populated with bumptious villagers, scheming family members, imprisoned princesses, and secret lovers; none of whom necessarily live happily ever after.
Not one of my favorites, but worth reading if only because of Haruf’s bold choice of subject matter; the elderly are not often depicted in fairy tales.
What Other Reviewers Say
Lynn Rosen, The Philadelphia Enquirer: “A fitting close to a storied career, a beautiful rumination on aging, accommodation, and our need to connect. . . . As a meditation on life and forthcoming death, Haruf couldn’t have done any better. He has given us a powerful, pared-down story of two characters who refuse to go gentle into that good night.”
Who Wrote it
Kent Haruf is the author of five previous novels and the recipient of a Whiting Foundation Writers’ Award, the Wallace Stegner Award, and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation. He was also a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the New Yorker Book Award.
He died in November 2014, at the age of seventy-one.