Our Souls At Night: A Novel by Kent HarufOur Souls At Night: A Novel by Kent Harufsticker-burst

Our Souls At Night: A Novel

byKent Haruf

Hardcover | May 26, 2015

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A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.

Their brave adventures—their pleasures and their difficulties—are hugely involving and truly resonant, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature.

Heather's Review

We sometimes need to be reminded that a little hope is a seed that can grow in unexpected, powerful ways, that shared stories are what make us human, and that it’s never too late to start a new chapter – a new adventure – no matter where we are in our lives. Our Souls at Night is the last novel from the late Kent Haruf - a beautiful...

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KENT HARUF is the author of five previous novels (and, with the photographer Peter Brown, West of Last Chance). His honors include a Whiting Foundation Writers’ Award, the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award, the Wallace Stegner Award, and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation; he was also a finalist for the National Bo...
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Title:Our Souls At Night: A NovelFormat:HardcoverDimensions:192 pages, 7.77 × 5.27 × 0.8 inPublished:May 26, 2015Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1101875895

ISBN - 13:9781101875896

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fast Read I enjoyed this story of 2 elderly people alone and lonely. I made me think about my own future.
Date published: 2018-04-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Love the story I absolutely enjoy the story of this book and I wish the story was longer. However, the writing style was hard to get used to.
Date published: 2018-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A light, wonderful read This is a simple book that gives an insight to an elder's life who still sees theres something to live for. I loved how this book put me at ease and filled my heart with love for this man. Not everyone would enjoy the simplicity of this book, but some can see depths in the simplist of things.
Date published: 2017-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Light, Wonderful Read This is a simple book that gives an insight to an elder's life who still sees theres something to live for. I loved how this book put me at ease and filled my heart with love for this man. Not everyone would enjoy the simplicity of this book, but some can see depths in the simplist of things.
Date published: 2017-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A light wonderful read This is a simple book that gives an insight to an elder's life who still sees theres something to live for. I loved how this book put me at ease and filled my heart with love for this man. Not everyone would enjoy the simplicity of this book, but some can see depths in the simplist of things.
Date published: 2017-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Liked it This was a good story. I recommend it
Date published: 2017-03-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Nice. A great addition to any library.
Date published: 2017-03-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Nice little story It was a short read which was good because not a lot happens in this book. I did enjoy seeing life through their eyes though and thinking about the position a lot of elderly people are in and what they go through.
Date published: 2016-04-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A beautiful Story This is a story of two people finding comfort and love in their twilight years. I telly loved the story!
Date published: 2016-01-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Emotional and addicting! I was skeptical when I purchased this book. At first I was displeased with the short sentences and lack of transition, but the story itself is addicting. This book allows your to see the flaws of the characters, but the reality of life and it's detours.
Date published: 2015-10-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointed This book read like a second grade reader. Purchased after review on Canada AM by Heather and was subsequently very disappointed.. Read it in a couple of days and felt that there was nothing to savour - weird and improbable storyline and dangling ending. Wish I could get my money back! Was delighted to return to more compelling and enjoyable reads. Feel that I cannot even pass it on to someone else.
Date published: 2015-07-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from mixed feelings about this book I liked this book but found it dragging in parts and repetitious on too many occasions. I also did not particularly connect to the two characters, they never seemed totally suited for each other to me, and so found it hard to take this book seriously. I also found it totally impossible to believe that a seventy year old woman would arrive at a neighbour's home, someone she really did not know, and offer such a proposition. Maybe inviting him to dinner first?
Date published: 2015-07-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing but repetitive This is an amazing read! Very developed characters but gets very repetitive
Date published: 2015-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not your average love story... I absolutely LOVED this book. I am an avid reader and was intrigued by the title. It is a love story between two lonely elderly people who took a chance on love despite what their families and community thought. Beautifully written and an easy story to follow. I read it in 2 days!
Date published: 2015-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A terrific read A truly beautiful love story, without sugar coating, romantic nonsense or ideal/istic characters. True, authentic, original and inspiring...all that literature can be.
Date published: 2015-06-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful I have read all of Kent Haruf's books and did not know he had passed away until I finished this book. Another lovely story that will resonate with you, it was a quick and enjoyable read. I will miss new novels from him.
Date published: 2015-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Could not stop reading Kent Haruf was the puppet master to my heart in Our Souls at Night. The journey of Louis & Addie is an inspiring tale of love and loss, exemplifying how happiness and heartbreak are ageless. Their story left me emotionally charged; a devastation that everyone can relate to. A must read.
Date published: 2015-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Touching, nostalgic, meditative, and funny We sometimes need to be reminded that a little hope is a seed that can grow in unexpected, powerful ways, that shared stories are what make us human, and that it’s never too late to start a new chapter – a new adventure – no matter where we are in our lives. Our Souls at Night is the last novel from the late Kent Haruf - a beautiful, aching reminder of these essential truths, and a poignant end to a literary life spent exploring private heartaches and small tragedies in the fictional town of Holt Colorado. His novels Plainsong, Benediction, and more are part of the same music, and this is the perfect coda. Our Souls at Night is the deceptively simple story of neighbours Addie Moore and Louis Waters. Their spouses long since passed away, Addie proposes that they share a bed from time to time, for companionship, conversation, and the reassurance that comes from the gentle breathing of another person in the lonely dark. They tell their stories to each other in still, intimate moments, and we feel the weight of full lives - not epic, but real. But daring to live, challenging the expectations of family and neighbours has consequences, and the love growing between Addie and Louis is fragile despite their determination. I’ve rarely read a book that can be heartbreaking and hopeful in the same moment, but that is the genius of Kent Haruf. Our Souls at Night is by turns touching, nostalgic, meditative, and funny, with not a single wasted word. Time seems to slow down when you read Haruf. His words roll over in your mind, making your eyes pause on the page, wanting to explore every nuance and implication. In his hands the plain language of ordinary people like Addie and Louis becomes poetic without being artificial, their voices familiar and in every sense of the word, true. I guarantee the voices of Addie and Louis will echo in your heart, and their story will not soon fade.
Date published: 2015-04-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Finality My first foray into Kent Haruf's world of Holt was with his previous novel, Benediction. I was utterly swept up in the simplicity of it all. True to his style, "Our Souls at Night" is just as exquisite as you would expect from a master storyteller. It's tender and hard at the same time; it makes you think and weep, and it will stay with you till the end of time because of its timeless themes of love, family, aging, and death. Haruf doesn't hold back and says it to the point - so sharp and concise that you won't feel the slice until it has cut deep into your heart. And when that happens, you find ways to make sense of it, like how one does in everyday life. That is what makes Haruf's narratives so relatably grounded. This novella carries much weight, more so as a posthumous publication. But don't let that be the full stop to celebrating Haruf's work. In a way, I feel privileged to have had a glimpse into his life through his words. Thank you for sharing that with us, Mr. Haruf.
Date published: 2015-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb. Perfect. Devastating. Is there a word for being absolutely enraged yet utterly heartbroken at the same time? I'm sure the Germans have something. Slowly, slowly, perfectly, Kent Haruf unfolds the lives of ordinary people for his readers. How he does it so poignantly, and so emotionally, and yet without any melodrama is a mystery to me. And to do it in what is basically a novella is extraordinary. A perfect end to his career.
Date published: 2015-02-24

Read from the Book

1And then there was the day when Addie Moore made a call on Louis Waters. It was an evening in May just before full dark.They lived a block apart on Cedar Street in the oldest part of town with elm trees and hackberry and a single maple grown up along the curb and green lawns running back from the sidewalk to the two-­story houses. It had been warm in the day but it had turned off cool now in the evening. She went along the sidewalk under the trees and turned in at Louis’s house.When Louis came to the door she said, Could I come in and talk to you about something?They sat down in the living room. Can I get you something to drink? Some tea?No thank you. I might not be here long enough to drink it. She looked around. Your house looks nice.Diane always kept a nice house. I’ve tried a little bit.It still looks nice, she said. I haven’t been in here for years.She looked out the windows at the side yard where the night was settling in and out into the kitchen where there was a light shining over the sink and counters. It all looked clean and orderly. He was watching her. She was a good-­looking woman, he had always thought so. She’d had dark hair when she was younger, but it was white now and cut short. She was still shapely, only a little heavy at the waist and hips.You probably wonder what I’m doing here, she said.Well, I didn’t think you came over to tell me my house looks nice.No. I want to suggest something to you.Oh?Yes. A kind of proposal.Okay.Not marriage, she said.I didn’t think that either.But it’s a kind of marriage-­like question. But I don’t know if I can now. I’m getting cold feet. She laughed a little. That’s sort of like marriage, isn’t it.What is?Cold feet.It can be.Yes. Well, I’m just going to say it.I’m listening, Louis said.I wonder if you would consider coming to my house sometimes to sleep with me.What? How do you mean?I mean we’re both alone. We’ve been by ourselves for too long. For years. I’m lonely. I think you might be too. I wonder if you would come and sleep in the night with me. And talk.He stared at her, watching her, curious now, cautious.You don’t say anything. Have I taken your breath away? she said.I guess you have.I’m not talking about sex.I wondered.No, not sex. I’m not looking at it that way. I think I’ve 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 you staying the night. The nights are the worst. Don’t you think?Yes. I think so.I end up taking pills to go to sleep and reading too late and then I feel groggy the next day. No use at all to myself or anybody else.I’ve had that myself.But I think I could sleep again if there were someone else in bed with me. Someone nice. The closeness of that. Talking in the night, in the dark. She waited. What do you think?I don’t know. When would you want to start?Whenever you want to. If, she said, you want to. This week.Let me think about it.All right. But I want you to call me on the day you’re coming if that happens. So I’ll know to expect you.All right.I’ll be waiting to hear from you.What if I snore?Then you’ll snore, or you’ll learn to quit.He laughed. That would be a first.She stood and went out and walked back home, and he stood at the door watching her, this medium-­sized seventy-­year-­old woman with white hair walking away under the trees in the patches of light thrown out by the corner street lamp. What in the hell, he said. Now don’t get ahead of yourself.2The next day Louis went to the barber on Main Street and had his hair cut short and neat, a kind of buzz cut, and asked the barber if he still shaved people and the barber said he did, so he got a shave too. Then he went home and called Addie and said, I’d like to come over tonight if that’s still all right.Yes, it is, she said. I’m glad.He ate a light supper, just a sandwich and a glass of milk, he didn’t want to feel heavy and laden in her bed, and then he took a long hot shower and scrubbed himself thoroughly. He trimmed his fingernails and toenails and at dark he went out the back door and walked up the back alley carrying a paper sack with his pajamas and toothbrush inside. It was dark in the alley and his feet made a rasping noise in the gravel. A light was showing in the house across the alley and he could see the woman in profile there at the sink in the kitchen. He went on into Addie Moore’s backyard past the garage and the garden and knocked on the back door. He waited quite a while. A car drove by on the street out front, its headlights shining. He could hear the high school kids over on Main Street honking their horns at one another. Then the porch light came on above his head and the door opened.What are you doing back here? Addie said.I thought it would be less likely for people to see me.I don’t care about that. They’ll know. Someone will see. Come by the front door out on the front sidewalk. I made up my mind I’m not going to pay attention to what people think. I’ve done that too long—­all my life. I’m not going to live that way anymore. The alley makes it seem we’re doing something wrong or something disgraceful, to be ashamed of.I’ve been a schoolteacher in a little town too long, he said. That’s what it is. But all right. I’ll come by the front door the next time. If there is a next time.Don’t you think there will be? she said. Is this just a one-­night stand?I don’t know. Maybe. Minus the sex part of that, of course. I don’t know how this will go.Don’t you have any faith? she said.In you, I do. I can have faith in you. I see that already. But I’m not sure I can be equal to you.What are you talking about? How do you mean that?In courage, he said. Willingness to risk.Yes, but you’re here.

Bookclub Guide

A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future. In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with. Their brave adventures—their pleasures and their difficulties—are hugely involving and truly resonant, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature.1. What does the title mean?2. The novel begins with the word “and”: “And then there was the day when Addie Moore made a call on Louis Waters.” What do you imagine came before it?3. Kent Haruf was known for using simple, spare language to create stories of great depth. How does the modest action in Our Souls at Night open onto larger insights about getting older?4. It takes a considerable amount of courage for a woman of Addie’s generation to invite a man she hardly knows to sleep in her bed. What do you think propelled her to do it?5. When Louis comes over for the first time, he knocks on her back door in the name of discretion. Addie says, “I made up my mind I’m not going to pay attention to what people think. I’ve done that too long—all my life. I’m not going to live that way anymore. The alley makes it seem we’re doing something wrong or something disgraceful, to be ashamed of” (8). How does her attitude influence Louis’s?6. Both Louis and Addie have to contend with gossip about their relationship. Who handles it better?7. What does Addie’s friendship with Ruth show us about Addie’s character?8. Addie and Louis both had troubled marriages, but stayed married until their partners died. How does that sense of propriety, of loyalty, influence their relationship with each other?9. In describing his affair, Louis says, “I think I regret hurting Tamara more than I do hurting my wife. I failed my spirit or something” (42). What does he mean by this?10. Why did Addie refuse to move after Connie’s death? How did this decision color Gene’s reaction to his mother’s late-in-life love affair?11. On page 52, Louis describes his relationship with Addie to his daughter, “It’s some kind of decision to be free. Even at our ages.” Why does he feel freer with Addie than he does alone? How does his behavior become more uninhibited as the novel progresses?12. How does Jamie’s arrival deepen the connection between Addie and Louis?13. When Louis confesses that he wanted to be a poet, what effect does it have on Addie’s opinion of him? And on your opinion?14. Addie and Louis both have regrets about the way they raised their children. How does that influence their relationship with Jamie?15. Why did Addie buy new clothes for her trips to Denver that she never wears in Holt? What signal does it send to the reader?16. On page 145, Addie mentions the Denver Center for the Performing Arts production of Benediction, based on the author’s own novel. Addie and Louis discuss the fact that it’s set in Holt, the fictional town in which they live. Why do you think Haruf slipped this into the story?17. At the end of that conversation, Addie says, “Who would have thought at this time in our lives that we’d still have something like this. That it turns out we’re not finished with changes and excitements. And not all dried up in body and spirit” (147). What point is Haruf making?18. Jamie’s arrival ultimately leads to grave consequences. What is Gene afraid of?19. Several times during the novel, Addie is described as being brave, but she gives in to Gene’s demands. Is this a brave act? What is she protecting?20. How would you describe the ending—as heartbreaking, hopeful, or something else?21. In his final interview, conducted a few days before his death from interstitial lung disease, Haruf discussed Our Souls at Night: “The idea for the book has been floating around in my mind for quite a while. Now that I know I have, you know—a limited time—it was important to me to try to make good use of that time. So I went out there every day. Typically, I have always had a story pretty well plotted out before I start writing. This time I knew generally where the story was going, but I didn’t know very many of the details. So as it happened, I went out every day trusting myself to be able to add to the story each day. So I essentially wrote a new short chapter of the book every day. I’ve never had that experience before. I don’t want to get too fancy about it, but it was like something else was working to help me get this done. Call it a muse or spiritual guidance, I don’t know. All I know is that the trust I had in being able to write every day was helpful.” How does reading this affect your understanding of the book?

Editorial Reviews

“More Winesburg that Mayberry, Holt and its residents are shaped by physical solitude and emotional reticence. . . . Haruf's fiction ratifies ordinary, nonflashy decency, but he also knows that even the most placid lives are more complicated than they appear from the outside. . . . The novel is a plainspoken, vernacular farewell.” —Catherine Holmes, The Charleston Post and Courier“A marvelous addition to his oeuvre. . . . spare but eloquent, bittersweet yet hopeful.” —Kurt Rabin, The Fredericksburg Freelance-Star“Lateness—and second chances—have always been a theme for Haruf. But here, in a book about love and the aftermath of grief, in his final hours, he has produced his most intense expression of that yet. . . . Packed into less than 200 pages are all the issues late life provokes.” —John Freeman, The Boston Globe“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.” —Lynn Rosen, The Philadelphia Enquirer“A delicate, sneakily devastating evocation of place and character. . . . Haruf’s story accumulates resonance through carefully chosen details; the novel is quiet but never complacent.” —The New Yorker“Elegiac, mournful and compassionate. . .a triumphant end to an inspiring literary career [and] a reminder of a loss on the American cultural landscape, as well as a parting gift from a master storyteller.” —William J. Cobb, The Dallas Morning News“A fine and poignant novel that demonstrates that our desire to love and to be loved does not dissolve with age. . . . The story speeds along, almost as if it's a page-turning mystery.” —Joseph Peschel, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch“By turns amusing and sad, skipping-down-the-sidewalk light and pensive. . . .  I recommend reading it straight through, then sitting in quiet reflection of beautiful literary art.” —Fred Ohles, The Lincoln Journal Star“Haruf is never sentimental, and the ending—multiple twists packed into the last twenty pages—is gritty, painful and utterly human. . . . His novels are imbued with an affection and understanding that transform the most mundane details into poetry. Like the friendly light shining from Addie's window, Haruf’s final novel is a beacon of hope; he is sorely missed.” —Francesca Wade, Financial Times “Haruf was knows as a great writer and teacher whose work will endure. . . . The cadence of this book is soft and gentle, filled with shy emotion, as tentative as a young person's first kiss—timeless in its beauty. . . . Addie and Louis find a type of love that, as our society ages, ever more people in the baby boom generation may find is the only kind of love that matters.” —Jim Ewing, The Jackson Clarion-Ledger“There is so much wisdom in this beautifully pared-back and gentle book. . . a small, quiet gem, written in English so plain that it sparkles.” —Anne Susskind, The Sydney Morning Herald“His great subject was the struggle of decency against small-mindedness, and his rare gift was to make sheer decency a moving subject. . . . [This] novel runs on the dogged insistence that simple elements carry depths, and readers will find much to be grateful for.” —Joan Silber, The New York Times Book Review“In a fitting and gorgeous end to a body of work that prizes resilience above all else, Haruf has bequeathed readers a map charting a future that is neither easy nor painless, but it’s also not something we have to bear alone.” —Esquire“Utterly charming [and] distilled to elemental purity. . . . such a tender, carefully polished work that it seems like a blessing we had no right to expect.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post“Haruf spent a life making art from our blind collisions, and Our Souls at Night is a fitting finish.” —John Reimringer, The Minneapolis Star Tribune“Haruf once again banishes doubts.  Our souls can surprise us.  Beneath the surface of reticent lives—and of Haruf’s calm prose—they prove unexpectedly brave.” —Ann Hulbert, The Atlantic“Blunt, textured, and dryly humorous. . . this quietly elegiac novel caps a fine, late-blooming and tenacious writing career. . . . Haruf’s gift is to make hay of the unexpected, and it feels like a mercy. . . . This is a novel for just after sunset on a summer’s eve, when the sky is still light and there is much to see, if you are looking.” —Wingate Packard, The Seattle Times“A parting gift [and] a reminder of how profoundly we will miss Holt and its people, and Kent Haruf's extraordinary writing.” —Sandra Dallas, The Denver Post“Short, spare and moving...Our Souls at Night is already creating a stir.” —Jennifer Maloney, The Wall Street Journal