Addie and Louis are both neighbours and long since widowers. One day Addie, out of loneliness and desire for human contact, asks Louis if he would agree to sleep with her at night. Not sex, just sleeping in the same bed as it is the thing she misses most about having a partner and she is struggling to sleep. Louis agrees and slowly they build a strange but comforting little routine and it begins to grow. When Addie's son and wife have troubles, she agrees to look after her grandson for a while and Addie and Louis enjoy this new little family that they have stumbled happily into. But not everyone is happy about their friendship.
This is very short read, 179 pages, but it is a completely moving and beautiful book. Brave and sad. By the end, tears were streaming down my face and I was completely heartbroken by the entire book; the story, the characters, the writing. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
I have a sense of loss now that I've finished this excellent novel, only started last Friday.
It is set in the fictional small town of Holt in Colorado, the state where the author lives.
It begins with the town's hardware store owner, Dad Lewis, learning that he hasn't got long to live. Gradually the scenario expands to encompass not just past events in his and his family's life but also those of other 'ordinary' people in the town. It isn't written in an old-fashioned saga-type style but economically in short and vivid scenes that illiuminate disparate lives.
The conversations are dry and plain and the author's narration is similar. The absence of quotation marks around speech emphasises this dryness and plainness.
One evening young Reverend Lyle is walking round the town: "People in their houses at night. These ordinary lives. Passing without their knowing it.........The precious ordinary."
The novel was short-listed for the Folio prize. I must now read the two earlier novels, Plainsong and Eventide, also set in the High Plains and very well reviewed.