Our Souls at Night beautifully and movingly explores our human need for connection. This novel is a gem whose simplicity belies the deepness of the story. Set in the small town of Holt, CO, Addie Moore is a widow in the “twilight” of her life who longs to connect with another human being in the most basic yet profound way. She invites her widower neighbor, Louis, to come sleep with her at night, merely as a companion, a comfort against the loneliness of nighttime:
I want to suggest something to you.
A kind of proposal.
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.
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.
Of course, Louis does take her up on her offer after a visit to the barber on Main Street and a close shave. He arrives looking neat, with his fingernails trimmed, carrying a paper sack with his pajamas and toothbrush inside. And then we, the reader, get to listen in on their nighttime conversations, so poignantly written. Their conversations feel intimate and quiet, undisturbed by the outside world, and, yet, the world impacts who they are, have been and want to be. It’s like the dialogue has been stripped bare of non-essentials and descriptive additives; rather, it’s direct and to the point suggesting that age and experience give one permission to say what one means without a lot of rigamarole, to see one’s past actions honestly and realistically, recognizing the good and the bad, the joys and the regrets. The unfolding of their experience reminds us all of the delight and meaning one can derive from a shared conversation or the simple act of holding hands. Their story will resonate with you during and long after you finish the last page.