It is a poignant irony that Kent Haruf’s final novel, finished just before he died last year, is a love story set in the shadow of death. Its seventy-year-old protagonists, Addie Moore and Louis Waters, inhabit the lonely spaces of life after bereavement: both widowed long ago, these two neighbours have been enduring the emptiness of houses only a block apart in the small prairie town of Holt, Colorado (in which all of Haruf’s novels are set), while seemingly insensible to their mutual solitude. ‘And then there was the day’, as the novel begins, in Haruf’s deceptively plain prose (his chapters all open like verses spilling out of a Bible – ‘On a Sunday’, ‘The second night’), ‘when Addie Moore made a call on Louis Waters.’ With the wonderfully unabashed, curiously practical sense of adventure that characterises Addie and underpins the story, she proposes to her neighbour that
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