Our Souls at Night: A novel

Our Souls at Night: A novel

by Kent Haruf

NOOK Book(eBook)

$11.99 View All Available Formats & Editions

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now


A Best Book of the Year 
The Boston Globe, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Denver Post

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, her son even farther, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in empty houses, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with. But maybe that could change? As Addie and Louis come to know each other better--their pleasures and their difficulties--a beautiful story of second chances unfolds, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer's enduring contribution to American literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101875902
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/26/2015
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 7,328
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

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 Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the New Yorker Book Award. He died in November 2014, at the age of seventy-one. 


South Central Mountains of Colorado

Date of Birth:

February 24, 1943

Place of Birth:

Pueblo, Colorado


B.A., Nebraska Wesleyan University, 1965; M.F.A., Iowa University (Writers' Workshop), 1973

Read an Excerpt


And 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.


Yes. 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.

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.


The 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Our Souls at Night: A novel 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Simply and poignantly written of the magic, intimacy and fragility of love at life's maturity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you KENT HARUF for this final gift. This short book encompasses everything there is about being human. This thing called life is something we cannot do alone. I loved how brave but tender Addie was. She wants something so simple and human, someone to connect with, someone to whisper to in the dark. Louis Waters arrives not knowing quite what to expect. As soon as I closed the book I wanted to turn back to the first page and begin again. The book leaves you feeling blessed if you have that person to whisper to in the dark. The authors quiet, sparse text in this and his other novels does not pull one in as much as nudge you to join the journey. If you have not read Plainsong, Eventide and Benediction, I urge you to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I purchased it because I have read and savored all of Kent Haruf's books. It is a touching story that will stay with you long after you read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A story I could relate to being an older person alone. Very heart rendering but sad. I won't tell you the plot , it is sad at times. Great book you won't be sorry you ddid.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much. The characters seemed real and their struggles with family seemed familiar. The only setback for me was whether their family or friends would be that judgmental of their affair at this time in history? I think people would notice but not be that shocked about them seeing each other. I liked that they just wanted to connect. As an older person that is alone, it is a nice fantasy...to imagine someone to cuddle with and talk to when you need someone.
ReadingGrandmaTX More than 1 year ago
A glimpse into the author's thoughts toward his own final chapter. As his previous books do, he lets you into the every day lives of a few residents of Holt, CO. You feel as if you knew these people from a distance before. By the end, you know them a little better and realize you never really know someone. I will miss the people of this small town.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book took me right in from the beginning although it was at first difficult to decipher where quoting was not used. I loved the story of these companions; however, I did not like the way it ended....no spoiler here from me. Enjoyed this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this sweet but short book The ending felt disappointing but true
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It sounded a little scary at first but, it was not
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it but wanted it to last longer. Simple writing style that still manages to be vivid in detail so much that the characters will linger in my thoughts for a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a soft, tender story. Haruf's death is a loss for all of us.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting on a number of levels, how their relationship Develops, how the town reacts to it, how her family reacts. Their caring for each other and her grandson but her son's Negitive reactions. Great story really makes you think about What is important in life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautiful and tender novel. Simple and yet so eloquent. J M Lydon
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading this very brief story.....and getting to the ending...im not even sure what the point of the story was. It was sweet in parts...predictable in others and almost a waste of reading because of the ending.
Joyce Larson More than 1 year ago
Older generation can relate to this story probably more than the younger generation. Story was about the loneliness of two elderly people (man and woman)and how they coped: lost relationships and the coming together of grandparents/grandchildren.
TRFeller 6 months ago
Addie Moore, a retired government clerk, is a widow whose adult son has moved away, and Louis Waters, a retired high school English teacher, is a widower whose adult daughter has also moved away. Both around the age of seventy, they live in the same neighborhood in the fictional small town of Holt, Colorado, where the author, now deceased, set all six of his novels. One day she comes over and proposes that he visit her at night to share her bed in a non-sexual manner. He accepts, and they go from being friendly acquaintances to becoming actual friends while ignoring the local gossip. Then her six-year-old grandson Jamie moves in while Addie’s son and daughter-in-law are undergoing marital problems. Complications ensue, of course, but Jamie and Louis also become friends. Unfortunately, Addie’s son forces her to choose between her family and Louis. After she breaks her hip and moves to an assisted-living facility, they keep surreptitiously keep in touch by telephone. This is a very moving and touching story without a hint of sentimentality.
TN1796 More than 1 year ago
Kent Haruf's specialty is ordinary characters living in the little town of Holt, Colorado, whose actions become more affecting as they go. In this, his final novel, he uses this approach to create a story with powerful impact. Addie and Louis, two older folks, start a tentative relationship that ultimately brings them more happiness than either expected. Subtlety and emotion abounds. This is a little book that packs a big wallop.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jani8 More than 1 year ago
What a gem of a book! I think the talking in bed is the most important and enjoyable time of day or night. Should my husband die before me, I will miss this the most, I think. The book had an air of authenticity. It was real. It was funny at times and sad at times, just like real life. It has been made into a movie on Netflix (I think) and I’m not sure I want to see it. I don’t know how it could be any better than the book! I highly recommend this book!
BMedvid More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of Kent Haruf’s novels, particularly the Plainsong series set in Holt Colorado. This novel had escaped my attention until I saw a preview for the movie that will be based upon it. I was excited to see Jane Fonda and Robert Redford starring in the movie and thought - this is a must read before seeing the movie. I was not disappointed. The book is written in a conversational style without quotation marks or attribution. At times I found it difficult to determine who was speaking. However, it is definitely worth the effort. The story focuses on the later stages of a widow’s and widower’s lives and how they meet their needs, particularly loneliness, versus the opinions, judgments, and expectations of their adult children and the town people. Haruf’s characters are treated with his typical gentle kindness and insight. I found Our Souls At Night to be a quiet, comforting, and touching story. I enjoyed the presentation of the simple things in life and the companionship/experiences of a couple during their golden years. I was surprised by the ending of the story. The decisions made by Addie felt out of character to me and were disappointing. I could understand them, and perhaps they were realistic, but I definitely did not like them. The end came quickly, felt rushed compared to the first half of the book, and ultimately made me sad. However, even with the ending, I found this to be a delightful and beautiful story filled with wisdom and love. It is one I will reflect on for a while and recommend to others. I was sorry to find out that this is also Haruf’s last novel, but it does seem somehow fitting. After reading this, I can’t wait to see the movie adaptation of this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A delightful read. Lovely story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love how Mr. HARUF writes. So simple, so heartwarming and heartbreaking. A perfect combination!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book, and finished about half, but the HORRIBLE grammar made me finally just quit. I mean, does the man know what a period is? Run on sentences are my pet peeve and I just couldn't take it anymore.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Y'all must have read a different book than I did. It was terrible! Don't waste your time!