A sweet love story about the twilight years.
If Haruf (who died in November at age 71) hadn’t titled his previous book Benediction (2013), that might have been perfect for this one. It’s a slim novel of short chapters, and it would seem to bring the cycle of books about small-town Holt, Colorado, to a close. This isn’t a dark night of the soul but one filled with hope and with second chances. Here’s how it opens: “And then there was the day when Addie Moore made a call on Louis Waters.” Addie is 70, a widow, and she was close with Louis’ late wife. She and Louis don’t really know each other that well, other than as nodding acquaintances, but she has a novel proposition: she wants him to sleep with her. Not to have sexual relations, but just to have someone with whom she can talk and share and make it through the night. He appreciates the risk she's taken in making the request, and he agrees, though on their first night he's filled with thoughts of “How strange this is. How new it is to be here. How uncertain I feel, and sort of nervous.” Word gets out, and those who will gossip do, assuming the salacious details. Addie and Louis both have adult children who aren’t enthusiastic about the arrangement. And they each have a back story about the sorts of disappointments and perseverance that mark any longstanding marriage. Through Addie’s initiative, she and Louis find an emotional intimacy beyond anything either has previously known, and both come to recognize that they “deserve to be happy,” no matter what friends and family think. The author even has a little metafictional fun with his premise, as the characters comment on those “made up” books about the (fictional) Holt and how they’d hate to be in one of them.
Those who have been immersed in Holt since Plainsong(1999) will appreciate one last visit.