The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg
Meet Doris, a 96-year-old woman living alone in her Stockholm apartment. She has few visitors, but her weekly Skype calls with Jenny―her American grandniece, and her only relative―give her great joy and remind her of her own youth.
When Doris was a girl, she was given an address book by her father, and ever since she has carefully documented everyone she met and loved throughout the years. Looking through the little book now, Doris sees the many crossed-out names of people long gone and is struck by the urge to put pen to paper. In writing down the stories of her colourful past―working as a maid in Sweden, modelling in Paris during the 30s, fleeing to Manhattan at the dawn of the Second World War―can she help Jenny, haunted by a difficult childhood, to unlock the secrets of their family and finally look to the future? And whatever became of Allan, the love of Doris’s life?
Doris is 96 years-old and lives in Stockholm, when she was young her father gave her a red address book. Throughout her life Doris added names and addresses of all the people she had met into her red address book. Now she is housebound and living alone. She admits death is waiting for her.
Each week she looks forward to her weekly Skype with Jenny who is her American great-niece and at the same time Doris is writing her memoir which is based on her red address book and the names contained within it.
Sadly, the one thing that we all have to expect in life is losing those who come into our life whether that is family, friends or those that come into our lives for whatever reason and in Doris’s red address book there are names that are crossed out and the word ‘dead’ written against them. But each name means something, a friend, a lover or not so nice. The address book is not just a book of names it is a key to memories of times gone by, each name unlocks a part of a memory of happier times or sad times.
Doris has lived a life, she has made choices as we all do but for Doris she has lived through the good times and the worst of times, but she has learned to accept her decisions that have not gone well, she has also survived being torpedoed in WWII lived. The story moves between the past and the present. She never likes to listen to the carers who visit her and then one day she breaks a hip and Jenny then arrives at the hospital. It is Doris who ended up being a mother to Jenny after her own died when she was very young. This is deeply poignant story that left a mark on me. You know when Doris is lying in hospital not listening to the nurses or doctors because the end is coming. This is a woman who has lived. Now at her last she issues some wise words to Jenny “Don’t be afraid of life, Jenny. Live” As you read and especially towards the end you the reader will start to think about your own life and the people who have come into it for whatever reason. Love is a theme that pours out of the pages of The Red Address book. We all own an address book with names that are crossed out. Next time just take time to read those names and remember who they were. Beautifully written and uplifting a book to savour on a quiet Sunday sat in the garden. Keep hold of those old address books after reading this you will know why. “In the end all that matters is love”.
Thank you to The Borough Press for the review copy of The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg was published by The Borough Press and was published on 24th January 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.