My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a slim novel but within its pages there is a deeply moving story of growing old, of family pressures, and of the power of love at any age. One day, Addie Moore visits her long-time neighbour, Louis, to ask him a surprising question: will he sleep with her every night, no strings attached? And she means “sleep” and nothing else, because Addie is consumed by loneliness since the death of her husband. Louis accepts because, he too has felt the acute loneliness of old age since his wife died.
And so begins a simple but lovely ritual each evening in which the two lie together in bed, talking and holding hands, before they fall asleep. Soon, though, friendship grows and they begin to share walks and picnics and other simple outings; and when Addie’s young grandson is left with her for the summer, Addie and Louis include him in their outings. The daily routine is simply but beautifully drawn and underlines the simplicity and beauty of Addie and Louis’s growing love for each other. Like their relationship, the writing is understated but powerful. The couple waste no time, filling their days with simple joys; and Haruf wastes no words in depicting the deepening relationship as the two come to share insights into their earlier lives, and their joy at finding each other.
The story’s ending may not be as I/readers might/ had hoped, and yet it is the ‘right’ ending, a fine testament to Addie and Louis as believable characters and to the acute sensibilities and skill of their creator. It was to be Haruf’s last work (he died in November 2014 and the novel was published posthumously in 2015) and it is a very fitting legacy.