The Red Address Book
When Doris, the 96-year-old central character in this book, is given a red address book by her father when she is a young girl, she begins a record of her life by its content. The book follows a number of entries in the address book and as they die, Doris crosses the name out and writes DEAD beside the name. She tells the tale of each name, chapter by chapter.
Through various family members, friends and villains who are in the address book we learn of Doris' life and about the love of her life, Allan. Allan, along with Doris's niece, Jenny, are main threads throughout the story.
This is a love story with a dramatic twist at the end. The writing is smooth and lively, and the story flows nicely. It's an easy read and has lots of side stories and journeys that keep the story alive. Doris' life is sad and happy and lonely, but in the end there is peace for her.
A good read.
This was an easy, light and enjoyable read. We meet the 96 year old Doris at the beginning hemmed into her own house by ill health and loneliness. Through trips back into her past prompted by names in her address book, we find a young girl trying to navigate a hard and uncertain world.
The juxtaposition between the two is jarring and intentionally so. Yet at the same time, the struggle Doris of both ages goes through is very similar. Losing those she loves and not knowing what the future holds.
I really enjoyed this but it felt like drinking the lite version of a fizzy drink. There was much more depth I wanted to get involved in. Also, the story with her long lost love seemed to be the main thrust whereas her relationship with her niece actually was the more touching.
These are slight gripes and I’d still recommend it to someone for a light summer read.
A very easy read but not to be confused with a simple read - a beautifully written story covering many decades of history across several very different countries. The characters are perceptively drawn with an underlying empathy for all barring one but rarely overly sentimental. i found it hard to decide whether this was a tragic story or not and indeed perhaps it doesn't matter. The overriding message was to live life to the full and to consider love in all its forms as the greatest blessing of all - inspired and inspiring.
I would recommend this book strongly to friends of all generations
Doris is a remarkably sprightly 96 year old, living on her own in Stockholm and supported by carers who come in daily to provide basic assistance. The problem is that many of her friends, relatives and acquaintances have died, leaving Doris very alone and, often, very lonely. The information about all these people that she has loved can be found in her red address book, a much treasured possession which was given to her by her father when she was young. In this book Doris has crossed out the names of all the people who are no longer with her and when she starts to reflect on the time she spent with them, she realises that she has so many memories, some good and some not so good, which are not recorded anywhere and which will die with her when she goes. She is determined to document as many of these memories as possible and leave it as a legacy to her one remaining close relative, Jenny, who lives in the U.S. and has a young family of her own. The feelings Doris has for her great-niece are reciprocated by Jenny and they Skype once a week. In this book Doris’ memoirs are interspersed with the narrative about her present life.
Doris is a lovely lady who never complains about anything, always has a cheerful outlook and is much loved by those people who know (or knew) her. I defy anyone not to love Doris for just being Doris. As she reflects on the people in her life who have died and she records her memories surrounding those people, it becomes apparent that Doris had a very interesting life indeed. Not necessarily easy, but certainly fairly remarkable. This is a very gentle and a very tender novel, looking at old age and the memories that are invoked as death approaches. Not sensational and not overly-sentimental. Just lovely. It is not always a comfortable read but it is honest and perceptive. Finally, I think it showed me how frustrating it must be to have reached an age where your physical capabilities deteriorate to the point where you lose some of the control and independence which you once had, forcing you to increasingly rely on other people. I hope this will result in me having more patience, tolerance, compassion and understanding for the many people who are in similar circumstances.
I was going to give this book 4 stars for the most ridiculous of reasons. I cry a lot when it comes to books, films, TV, in fact anything really that is in the slightest bit emotional. Bizarrely I didn’t cry when I read this book and initially thought that that meant it hadn’t connected with me as much as it should have done. On reflection I have changed my mind. Even though I finished the book a couple of weeks ago, I can’t seem to forget Doris. She obviously had a much bigger impact on me than I realised at the time, just not in a “gushy” way. I loved Doris and she deserves 5 stars.
I would recommend this book to anyone. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and that you also learn something from it.
This ‘end of life’ book is a wonderful read. In extreme old age Doris relives her long and eventful live through the pages of the Red Address Book, a present from her father when she was a child.
She Skypes her great-niece Jenny every week and they are very close. But the weekly call cannot suffice to pass on all her memories, so she has been writing them all down, using the address book as her aide memoir. She wants Jenny to live life full of adventure, but little did she know that the greatest surprise is yet to come.
Old age and death are matters normally avoided earlier in life so this book is a gem in the way it deals with these subjects.
A great read.
The story revolves around 96 year old Doris who is nearing the end of her life, when I read the blurb I didn't think I would enjoy this book, but how wrong could I be. So emotional. What a life the young Doris had, and if anything it highlights the importance of enjoying and living life while you can.
I enjoyed reading this novel. It was a clever idea to use the names in an address book, given to Doris as a child by her father, to tell of her life experiences, her triumphs and also of the sad times. Doris who is now a very elderly lady and a very lonely lady wants to get her life experiences down in paper for the benefit of her niece, who lives abroad, and to ultimately help her understand her unhappy childhood. Doris' inevitable hospital admission brings her niece to her and with her presence and kindly thoughtful act gives Doris great happiness.