Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

★★★★☆ (4/5)

One of the very few instances where the film version triumphs the book. Robert Redford and Jane Fonda’s suave and somber portrayal brings unspoken dynamism to what are otherwise rigid characters on paper. Loneliness and need for companionship are two undeniable and inevitable corollaries of aging. Addie Moore and Louis Waters’ budding relationship from estranged neighbors to platonic companions is earnest, warm and an honest portrayal of a society where the elderly are increasingly isolated.

A selection of my favourite passages from the book

  • 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?
  • I’ve always heard you were a good teacher. People in town think so. You were a good teacher for Gene. A good one, maybe. But not a great one. I know that.
  • She has the feeling she has to be a certain way or she’ll be abandoned
  • That would have been good. Sins of omission, Louis said. You don’t believe in sins. I believe there are failures of character, like I said before. That’s a sin
  • Addie turned off the light. Where’s your hand? Right here beside you where it always is
  • In Addie’s bedroom Louis put his hand out the window and caught the rain dripping off the eaves and came to bed and touched his wet hand on Addie’s soft cheek.
  • Not many of her friends were still alive, old ladies, a few old men, who came limping and shuffling into the church and sat down in the pews and some of them leaned and nodded over with their chins rested on their thin chests and slept a while and then woke when the hymn started.
  • I’ve come to believe in some kind of afterlife. A return to our true selves, a spirit self. We’re just in this physical body till we go back to spirit.
  • I heard you two was seeing each other, Stanley said. Addie’s willing to put up with me, Louis said. Makes me think there might be hope for somebody else in this life.
  • You can’t fix things, can you, Louis said. We always want to. But we can’t.
  • They still held each other in the night when he did come over but it was more out of habit and desolation and anticipated loneliness and disheartenment, as if they were trying to store up these moments together against what was coming