Louis Waters is an elderly widower with a routine of his own to keep him going. Life is a stagnant pool with the occasional splash. Death is waiting around the corner and it doesn't really matter when it arrives. Until, that is, his old neighbour pops round with a proposal that will change everything.
Addie Moore is also old and living by herself. Her loneliness has become too much to bear and she's come up with a possible solution: asking Louis if he'll come over to spend nights with her so that they can talk. There's no sex on the agenda, just companionship.
Louis can't resist and decides to give the proposed arrangement a try.
What unfolds from there is a wonderful story that overlaps the past and present in a superb balance. Addie and Louis reflect upon their lives. Neither's journey has been straightforward and each have had plenty of time to allow emotions to settle since the major incidents of their time.
Their new arrangement soon sets tongues wagging and word gets out to their children. The range of reactions of the people in their small town and the way the couple cope with them offer some wonderful vignettes and tell huge tales in small packages.
Life becomes more complicated and far richer when Addie's grandson comes to stay. The early complications of the transition are dealt with using tenderness and wisdom and a series of adventures follows in which the three bind tightly together.
The whole read has a magical feel to it. Part of that magic lies in the fingers of the writer. Using simple strands of conversation and events, he has woven an elaborate and moving tapestry. There's an effortless energy to the tale and yet it carries an ever-present tension to add a gentle momentum throughout.
I found the story to be strangely soothing. It's life-affirming without being manipulative. The emotions that run through it are strong and hit home. I loved spending time with Louis and Addie and hope that my twilight years can be half as warm, complicated and fulfilling as theirs.
Our Souls At Night (US) is a special book, one that's going to stick around with me for a good while. Treat yourself.