Book Review: The Art of Hiding

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Title: The Art of Hiding

Author:  Amanda Prowse

Page: 290 pages

Plot: What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?

Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

Bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love.

Thoughts:  Nina McCarrick our lead is a housewife in her mid thirties living in a posh estate in England. She leads a luxurious life with her husband and two sons. One day her husband is meets with a car accident and dies. She finds herself in turmoil when she finds out that her husband hadn’t told her that they are nose deep in debt. She loses everything, their business, property, wealth and even her house. All she is left with is her two children to take care of. She has no money, no skills to carry on her life and yet she is determined to make it. Once again she finds herself in the modest house she spent her time as a child.

We follow the story from Nina’s perspective with a third person’s point of view. The story mostly revolves around Nina’s struggle to find her feet and nurture her boys after her husband dies. Her journey of transformation from a domesticated house wife to a strong independent woman is what makes this book thought provoking inspite of a common plot. What I didn’t like about this book are the parts where Nina’s relationship with other apart from her family did seem superficial.

I read a kindle copy of the book. The book is divided in 15 chapters. The language is quite simple and easy to understand. Over all the book has a common plot but Nina and her boys journey of starting from a scratch after losing everything is quite heart-warming.

Rating: 4/5

PS: Thanks to the author and Netgalley for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Soulmate: A Novel of Eternal Love

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Title:  Soulmate: A Novel of Eternal Love

Author:  Deepak Chopra

Page: 290 pages

Plot: One of the world’s foremost leaders in the field of mind-body medicine turns his talents and vision to fiction with an absorbing, mystical tale of a love that conquers death itself…

Gifted young doctor Raj Rabban is about to have his whole world turned upside down-when a chance encounter on a subway introduces him to the kind of happiness he never thought possible.

But life with his true soulmate is cut short by tragedy, and Raj must undertake a courageous journey beyond the scope of his five senses to regain it.

Favourite Quote: “Whatever relationships you have attracted in your life at this moment, are precisely the ones you need in your life at this moment. There is a hidden meaning behind all events, and this hidden meaning is serving your own evolution.”

Thoughts:   I have enjoy watching speeches and video by Deepak Chopra and also reading non-fiction books by him. I quite like his philosophy and ideologies about mind, body and spirit. I was totally unaware that the author also wrote fiction until I came across this book at a library. I was immediately intrigued by the title and the author and had to pick it up.

In the book we follow Dr Raj Rabban who treats mentally ill patients. He is engaged to a self confident woman Maya and is soon going to marry her. One day Raj meets a gorgeous theatre artist, Molly on a train ride and is immediately drawn towards her. They end up spending a lot of time together to the extent that he starts cheating on Maya with her. He does feel guilty about it and comes clean to Maya eventually. Soon Maya and Raj call it an off. An unfortunate accident takes place and Molly is no more. But Raj can still see her, feel her and talk to her. She guides him, because she lives within him, as a soulmate.

I quite believe in the concept of souls travelling and evolving together over lifetimes. When I picked this book up I thought some new avenues will open up in this area and I will learn something more.  Sadly, I was met with disappointment.

Firstly the plot took a lot of time to build up. The way the story unveiled was quite slow and dialogues rather awkward. I honestly didn’t connect with any of the characters. Their portrayed personalities and the way they acted were quite off. Maybe the author wanted to point out that one breaks free on encountering one’s soul mate, but it didn’t come across convincingly.

I understand that the author wanted to convey a love that is beyond the worldly measures that is why Raj seeing Molly while was engaged to Maya was narrated so lightly but it didn’t sit well with me. Also, Maya inspite of being portrayed as a strong woman forgave Raj so easily and accepted him.  I didn’t like the unfaithfulness and dishonestly being justified by the author.

What I liked about the book were a few philosophies which were very thoughtful and it made me think. Book highlights for me were the parts where Raj started treating his patients with Molly’s help and his spiritual evolution, using unusual techniques.

The takeaway from the book was quite less compared to the efforts one has to take to read the entire book. By the end of the book I was left with confusing feelings about the book. I was trying to like it because of my fondness for the other but I simply couldn’t. Overall the book didn’t meet what was expected out of it. I would prefer to stick with reading the non-fiction books by this author.

Rating: 3/5

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Book Review: The Wrath and the Dawn

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Title:  The Wrath and the Dawn

Author:  Renne Ahdieh

Page: 395 pages

Plot: One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Favourite Quote: “Some things exist in our lives for but a brief moment. And we must let them go on to light another sky.”

Thoughts:   There was so much hype created around this series that I had to read it. This is a fantasy fiction based in the kingdom of Khorasan. The Caliph of Khorasan, an eighteen year old king is considered a monster. He takes in a new bride every night and has her executed the next morning. Sharzad our female lead has lost her dear friend to this inhumanity and decides to take revenge for her death. Sharzad volunteers to be the next Calipha of Khorasan. The night after they are married, Sharzad narrates an enticing story to the Caliph and decides to reveal the end only on the next night. This is how she manages to survive night after night.

But nothing is what it seems like to Sharzad. She decides to get to the bottom of the truth of why the women are being murdered at dawn. The relationship between Khalid and Shazi builds, from hatred to empathy to love. Their love story is weaved by creating beautiful situations,with beautiful words. There were few phrases where reading once was just not enough.

Apart from the main leads I loved Despina’s character. She is Shazi’s hand maiden and so witty and quick. The other important character was of Tariq, an old friend/lover of Shrazad is determined to kill the Caliph and set Sharzad free. But the question was if Shrazad really wanted to be set free?

The plot reminded me of the Arabian nights. But there is much more to it. More than the plot I loved the way the story unfolded. The writing is what I liked the most about the book. Some people might be of an opinion that it was too flowery and over written but for me the writing is what made this book beautiful. I loved Sharzad’s character. She is so self empowered, determined and fearless. When her heart and mind were conflicted about Khalid, I struggled too. I was basically transported to Khoransan every time I was reading the book. Towards the end there is a little magic that comes into picture. Hopefully we will see more of it in the next book.

I am almost done with ‘The Rose and the Dagger’. Will be reviewing it soon.

Rating: 4/5

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Book Review: The Sialkot Saga

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Title: The Sialkot Saga

Author: Ashwin Sanghi

Page: 588 pages

Plot: ‘When it’s a question of money, everybody is of the same religion.’

The trajectories of Arvind and Arbaaz, both ‘businessmen’ of a kind whose lives are unwillingly intertwined, ricochet off one another while they play out their sinister and murderous plots of personal and professional one-upmanship, all the while breaking every rule in the book.

Both are unaware that what they seek and fight over is the very obstacle in realising an ancient secret that dates back to a time long forgotten.

And yet, at the heart of it all, there lies tenderness… and pathos… and blood… and rare moments of an almost exalted happiness. So, can it be that a man is both sinner and saint, victor and victim, black and white?

Ashwin Sanghi, master storyteller and spinner of yarns, weaves together threads of the past and present, fact and fiction, history and mythology, business and politics, love and hatred while dangling you ceaselessly over the cliff with this chilling multi-layered narrative, keeping you guessing till a totally unguessable end.

And you’re left wondering whether it’s a matter of faith… or fate?

Favourite Quote: “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you,”

Thoughts:  I have wanted to read this book since its release and finally I did. I am a big fan of Ashwin Sangi’s books. Inspite of his books being fictional, his research is through. I admire his style of seamlessly blending fiction with history.

Like all his books, this one too is based in different eras. The historic era mentioned in the book starts from Ashoka’s empire, proceeding to the other kings and their kingdoms. The second era starts from the times of the India-Pakistan partition and progresses across the lives of our two lead protagonists, Arvind and Arbaaz, between the year1947 to 2010.

The plot revolves around overly ambitious and power hungry Arving and Arbaaz. Arvind is brought up in a Marwari business family in Calcutta. He has a knack of business since a young age. He rises with his risky and instinctive buying and selling businesses and becomes one of the most renowned businessmen in the country. On the other hand Arbaaz has seen struggle since childhood, being from a under privileged family. He joins the underworld under the guidance of Abdul dada and a few friends and finds his way up to the pinnacle. Both their personal and professional lives are intertwined.

Majority of the book is focused on the lives of these two characters who carve their different paths to make their mark on the world. The plot has a lot of twists and turns, some unbelievable coincidence (a little more than one can fathom) the one mentioned in the epilogue being the most coincidental.  The characters are very well developed. Each character’s actions were justified and were in sync with the events. The partition period was narrated descriptively giving a proper understanding of the flow of events. But in my opinion the historic era lacks it’s due and it could have been elaborated a little more. The writing and the story line as usual was very captivating. The book is almost 600 pages but I did not mind it at all.

Over all, the book is a historical fiction with a quest to uncover a secret, towards the end.

Rating: 4/5

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Book Review: Then The Doorbell Rang

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Title: Then The Doorbell Rang

Author: Capri Jalota

Page: 364 pages

Plot:  One fine morning, Jane wakes up and stands upon the ledge of her 18th floor flat in Dubai Marina. Till a few years back, she was everything that would make anyone jealous – beautiful, rich and successful. But then the wheels of time turned. Today, she is miserable and lonely. Would she get over a deception? Can she forgive herself for deserting a friend? Would she ever find true love? Will karma get the better of her or will life give her another chance to correct the wrongs?

Then the Doorbell Rang is about Jane’s roller-coaster journey as she explores the mystical phenomenon called Life.

Thoughts:  This book is about love, loss, pain, fears, remorse, and friendship. The book begins with Jane standing in her balcony, contemplating her life.  We follow Jane’s life, our key protagonist. In the book her life is carved out  from her childhood to her mid-thirties. Jane is daughter of a British mother and an Indian Indian father, who raised her in the city of Dubai.

At a young age, Jane’s mother eloped leaving a letter for her with a lot of confessions and advice based on her mistakes. From then on Jane decided to be a woman who wants to lead a successful career and wouldn’t allow love to come in the midst of it. . But life never offers what you want. So Jane meets Uday and married him within a period of two weeks form knowing him. She thinks this will work out. But life strikes again. The story picks up from then on.

I loved the imperfection of Jane’s character. She made big mistakes and was coward enough to face them but eventually came around and rectified them. Most of the characters were well depicted and relatable. The narration is from Jane’s perspective with few chapters as journal entries from a first person’s POV.

The plot is as uncertain as life.. The story maneuvers between past and the present.  I loved reading Jane’s journey full of more downs than ups. It is filled with so many unfortunate incidents that are too much to bear for any individuals. My heart went out for her each time. The language is simple yet mesmerizing. The book is long but I didn’t feel that it was dragged at all.

I would recommend this book to those who would like to read realistic life stories filled with highs and lows…

Ratings: 4/5

PS: Thanks to the author and The Book Club for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Winner: A Ballroom Dance Novel

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Title: The Winner: A Ballroom Dance Novel

Author: Erin Bomboy

Page: 353 pages

Plot: The most prestigious ballroom dance competition in the United States.
Two dancers need to win.
Only one can.
Nina Fortunova wasn’t supposed to end up almost thirty, divorced, with her dreams of winning shattered. She teams up with Jorge Gonzalez, a Latin dancer, to reinvent the flashy Smooth style. When the Chairman of the Judges offers to throw the competition in their favor, Nina must decide how far she will go to win, even if it means losing Jorge.
Carly Martindale is doing everything she’s been taught not to do—placing her happiness first by dancing with Trey Devereux, the former three-time champion who’s returned to competition for mysterious reasons. Carly becomes obsessed with Trey and allows him to control her every move at great risk to her physical and emotional health. How far will she sacrifice herself, so Trey and she can win?

Co-workers, then friends, and now arch competitors, Nina and Carly face off to determine who will be the winner.

Bright, emotive, and told through dual narrators, The Winner examines the costs associated with winning, the internalization of parental ambition, and the effect of gendered roles on and off the dance floor. It’s perfect for readers who will love the old-school elegance of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in a contemporary setting.

Thoughts:  I follow a lot of dance based reality shows on television and often view a lot of live dance performances. Most of the times I am in awe looking at the dancers swirl, like a poetry in motion. But what we see is the output of their hard work, which often goes unnoticed. I always wondered about what goes into becoming a fine dancer and this book offers exactly that.

‘The Winner’ is a tale of prestigious ballroom dance competition based in the United States. We have two protagonists in the book who desperately have to win this competition. It’s more than just getting a medal. But only one will succeed…

We follow two vivid dancers Nina and Carly in the story. Nina is in the final years of dancing at the Nationals. She is advised to retire gracefully by her well wishers and even her husband who happens to be her dance partner. But she knows she has to do this for herself and her mother’s sacrifices to fulfill the “American Dream”. Carly is a girl next door who takes up a summer job at a dance studio. She is in her prime years of dancing and soon realizes her potential and decides to compete with her former partner/lover at the Nationals. And the story begins…

I loved the characterization. Both Nina and Carly are affable and relatable. I could feel their joys and sorrows while reading the book. All the characters in the book are very well carved, well described and are kept real, making it easier for the reader to connect.

The book is a little longer than usual but it doesn’t feel dragged. There is not a single point in the book where I felt bored. I actually enjoyed reading the constant developments in the plot. The narration was captivating and well structured. It had a steady flow to it.

The book does offer a lot of interesting insights about ball room dancing, what goes on in the green room before the performances, what goes into being a fine dance. But apart from this it also explores other dimensions of romance, relationships, sacrifices, family, etc.

This cover is a perfect choice for a book like this. If you are interested in ballroom dancing or not, this book makes a perfect read for an afternoon curled up in bed with a cup of tea.

Ratings: 4/5

Erin Bomboy Head Shot.jpgAbout the Author: A native of Richmond, Virginia, Erin Bomboy trained as a classical ballet dancer before spending a decade as a professional competitive ballroom dancer. She holds an MFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from New York University Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter where she works as a writer, editor, and teacher in the dance field. In her free time, Erin enjoys bacon, books, cats, and wine.
She is the author of The Piece: A Contemporary Ballet Novel and The Winner: A Ballroom Dance Novel. Her next novel, tentatively titled The Pas de Deux: A Classical Ballet Novel, will explore the relationship between a ballerina at the end of her career and the much-younger dancer with whom she falls in love. Taking the shape of a traditional pas de deux, it will premiere in 2018. Connect with the author:  Website  ~ Twitter  

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PS: Thanks to the author and iRead Book Tours for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Book Review: 13 Dates

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Title: 13 Dates

Author: Matt Dunn

Page: 334 pages

Plot: When Noah Wilson first encounters the quirky, opinionated and very beautiful Angel Fallon, his world is turned upside down. It’s clear she’s not his normal type, but Noah can’t stop thinking about her—which doesn’t bode well for the blind date he’s already late for.

Convinced by his friend (and self-professed dating expert) Marlon that thirteen dates is all you need to fall in love, Noah decides to give it a try with Angel. They should be incompatible: she’s impulsive and he’s a planner; he wants to settle down and she doesn’t ‘do’ relationships—or anything, for that matter—the way Noah is used to. But there’s something about Angel, and Noah can’t shake the idea that all they need is twelve more dates.

Despite some near-disasters involving rock climbing, saddle sores and jellied eels, it seems his plan may actually work. But even if they do reach the magic number, can that really mean they’ll just fall into their happily-ever-after?

Thoughts:  I would like to start the review by explaining the book title. Noah’s friend, Marlon had once read a theory in a Cosmopolitan magazine that it takes 13 dates to know if you really love somebody and are not just infatuated by them. Hence the title.

Noah is the male lead in the book. He showcases artist in his gallery. He is sweet, corny, socially awkward and sometime’s irritating. He is looking for a companion in life and wants to settle down. His friend, Marlon sets him up on a blind date. Noah decides to make a quick stop at Starbuck right before his blind date and bangs into Angel.

Angel, our female lead is a strong, independent, adventurous, unconventional woman who believes in living life one day at a time. Their first encounter scene is really comically narrated. Noah realizes that Angel is the one for him, but Angel has her own baggage. The question is will Noah be able to convince her to overcome her baggage? Will Angel let herself commit to Noah?

The plot is very light hearted, sweet and romantic. The writing in most places is causal and easy going. The punctuations are a little haywire.  I liked the lead characters and their chemistry. The plot will make you believe in love at first sight and in the power of love.  The book does have a very predictable course but there is a feel good factor about reading the book.

I liked that Noah, who otherwise seems to be unsure about things knows the minute he sees, rather hears Angel’s voice that she is the one for him. Inspite of Noah and Angel being poles apart, they find a way to make things work. Plus Mary, Noah’s land lady adds her own flavor to the story.

The book is a light-hearted romantic comedy which can be read in one sitting. It gives you a feel good factor in the end.

Ratings: 3/5

PS: Thanks to author and Netgalley for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Mahabhatra Code

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Title: The Mahabharata Code

Author: Karthik K.B. Rao

Page: 191 pages

Plot: “The Mahabharata Code is a personal account of the main protagonist Narayan Rao (NR), who claims to be an astronomer with NASA. NR and a few other crew members agree to take part in the NASA mission to visit this mystery planet from which they had received mysterious signals. Here, they meet a man with a long flowing white beard, and he introduces himself as Vyasa. He reveals that he has a crazy plan in mind and seeks NR and his members’ help in implementing this plan. He intends to recreate the entire Mahabharata on this planet to restore the faith of the primitive simpletons here.

As the Mahabharata incidents start unfolding, NR realizes that Vyasa intends to recreate them page by page here, if not paragraph by paragraph. Also NR begins to realize that his son, Krishna, who is being groomed by Vyasa as Vishnu’s avatar, is nothing more than a pawn in Vyasa’s scheme of things. Other incidents of Mahabharata also unfold according to the original epic. Pandavas and Kauravas grow up hating each other and finally the restaging plan culminates with both the warring sets of cousins facing each other in the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Inexplicably, like the original epic, Arjuna develops cold feet seeing his own cousins, teachers and relatives on the opposite side. He seeks Krishna’s divine intervention. Is the brainwashed “alien” Krishna prepared for this intervention?”

Thoughts:  I have watched the epic of Mahabharata on television as a child and over the years have read multiple retellings of the age old epic from different perspective. But when I read the synopsis for ‘The Mahabharata Code’ the plot was different from what I had read before. It had a sci-fi element added to it and I had to give this one a read.

Narayan Rao is an Indian astronaut working with NASA. He is chosen as one of the crew members to visit a mystery planet. He chooses to go there with his better half, Shrishti. Little did they know that they will play a major role in restaging the great epic of Mahabharata on an alien planet.

I found the plot to be very fascinating with aliens, spaceships and Mahabharata put together. The author’s imagination for bringing these aspects together in a book is worth a mention. The narration has its highs and lows. There are times where the narration dips especially where Narayan and Shristi are having a conversation. What appealed the most to me in the book was the logical explanation given for various events which were otherwise considered “mystical”. I loved the part where Krishna is narrating the Gita to Narayan.

The characterization could have been better. I could understand what all the characters where upto but didn’t really connect with any of them. But what I really liked about the characters is the justification given for their actions.

I would recommend you to pick this book up if you are looking for a varied retelling of Mahabharata.

Ratings: 3/5

PS: Thanks to author and TBC for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Summer of Impossible Things

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Title: The Summer of Impossible Things

Author: Rowan Coleman

Page: 432 pages

Plot: If you could change the past, would you?

Thirty years ago, something terrible happened to Luna’s mother. Something she’s only prepared to reveal after her death.

Now Luna and her sister have a chance to go back to their mother’s birthplace and settle her affairs. But in Brooklyn they find more questions than answers, until something impossible – magical – happens to Luna, and she meets her mother as a young woman back in the summer of 1977.

At first Luna’s thinks she’s going crazy, but if she can truly travel back in time, she can change things. But in doing anything – everything – to save her mother’s life, will she have to sacrifice her own?

Favorite Quote: “Stories are the only things that can ever really change the world. The stories that people believe in are the only ones that matter. Those are the stories that have the power to change everything we think we understand.”

Thoughts:  This book is a sci-fi, time travel fiction about a girl named Luna who is grieving the loss of her mother. She and her sister visit their mother’s birthplace to clear matters only to find themselves in more ambiguity than ever.

After landing in Brooklyn, Luna is magically able to travel through time and encounters her young mother in 1977. The story takes us through Luna’s struggle to firstly understand that she is not a lunatic but is able to travel through time and secondly to undo the course of actions that had taken place in 1977 to change the traumatic future. Will she make sacrifice for love?

The plot is very thought provoking. It makes you think about your past and how acting a little differently could have impacted your future. It is a book that will make you think hard even after finishing it. The writing is fantastic and truly magical. The book is a little long buy worth the read.

If you are a cynic give this book a shot and you might just start thinking differently.

Rating: 4/5

PS: Thanks to author for sending me a copy of the book via Netgalley.

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Book Review: Our Souls at Night

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Title: Our Souls at Night

Author: Kent Haruf

Page: 179 pages

Plot: In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s 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 in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.

Favorite Quote: “Who would have thought at this time in our lives that we’d still have something like this. That it turns out we’re not finished with changes and excitements. And not all dried up in body and spirit.”

Thoughts:  This book was written by the author on his death bed. It is an unconventional tale of two old people trying to find comfort in each other and facing resistance from the society and their children. Addie Moore and Louis Water are neighbors in the small town of Holt, Colorado.  Both of them have lost their spouses and their children are away living their own lives. Both in their seventies live alone and crave companionship.

Days still pass by with chores to do but nights are the toughest. Addie and Louis make an arrangement where at night Louis visits Addie’s home. They talk about their lives, their wishes, etc and find solace in each other’s company. Soon in the small town the rumors spread and Addie and Louis have to deal with the people and even their children.

This book is nothing like what I have read before. The plot is different from what I usually read and also the age bracket of the protagonists especially being portrayed in this light. The characters are well carved and easy to sympathize with. The narration is seamless and poetic at times, though I don’t know why the quotations before the speech are completely edited. It got a while for me to get use to reading like this.

Overall, the book is about two old people trying to make the last leg of their lives finding comfort in companionship. The story is beautiful, tender and heart touching.

Rating: 3.5/5

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