Daily Archives: May 3, 2017

‘Our Souls at Night’ by Kent Haruf


2015, 179 pages.

What an absolute gem of a book!  It’s only 179 broadly spaced pages long, but it’s gentle and wise and sad and when I finished it too late into the night, I sat in bed and cried.

Addie Moore is a widow in a small country town and one night she knocks on the door of her long-time neighbour, Louis.  They have known each other a long time, both their partners have died, and their children are grown up. “Will you sleep with me?” she asks- not sex, but just sleep.

No, not sex. I’m not looking at it that way. I think I 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 staying the night.  The nights are the worst. Don’t you think? (p 5)

It’s ironic that I recently read a book called Reading in Bed that involved older characters. I disliked it for its shameless milking of ‘older reader’ characteristics and preferences.  The theme of being in bed as an older person ties the two books, and yet they couldn’t be more different.  Reading in Bed was trivial and bloated: Our Souls at Night is restrained and dignified and says more in its 180 pages than the other book did in 344.

I even had a little chuckle at the end of the book when the author rather cheekily referenced one of his own books – Plainsong – which I read many years ago (and even remembered!)  It was a little wink to the readers of his other work, and I felt like saluting him. This book was published posthumously, Haruf having died in 2014 at the age of seventy-one.

This is a simple, affirming, grown-up book.  I loved it.

My rating: 9.5 /10

Source: Yarra Plenty Regional Library.