- File Size: 3041 KB
- Print Length: 305 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0008277966
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Reprint edition (January 8, 2019)
- Publication Date: January 8, 2019
- Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07896284S
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,297 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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From the Publisher
A Conversation with Author Sofia Lundberg
Have you always wanted to write?
Yes. For as long as I can remember. I grew up in a home without books and my parents weren’t readers. Yet, I always felt so close to literature. I started to read before I began school. I loved the library and the bookstores. I used to sit and read on the floor until they threw me out. I remember reading writers like Dostoyevsky, Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Graham Greene when I was very young.
The Red Address Book was inspired by your great aunt’s address book. But you did not begin writing the novel immediately after you found it. What prompted you to finally write this story?
My Doris—my great aunt was also named Doris—was my best friend growing up. She took care of me and she gave me so much love and attention. When she died, I found her address book hidden in a shelf in her hallway. She had crossed most of her friends’ names out and had written the word 'dead' next to them. It broke my heart to realize how lonely she must have felt.
Her death was very painful for me, as we were so close. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Many years later, I came up with the idea to write a novel about this. It took a lot of thinking, and the thinking took time.
In the book, Doris can tell that her niece Jenny is talented and urges her to write. Did your great aunt encourage you to write also?
I often stayed at Doris’s house on the weekends and she would tell me stories about when she was little. She was an amazing storyteller—she didn’t read many books to me, she just opened up and told me stories from her heart.
I wish that she would have seen my talent for writing and urged me to write, but I don’t think she did. But she always gave me books for my birthday. She knew what I loved.
It is not that common to have an address book nowadays when information is digital. What do you think about that? Are people losing the romance of the past?
I think we know more about the people from our past today. We are now connected by social media, and we often get to see the lives of our lost loves and friends. And yes, maybe that takes away the romance. But life still hurts and awakens emotions. I lost a friend just months ago. He is still on my list of friends on Facebook, and I sometime visit his Instagram just to see his smile. He will always be in my book of life. There will always be a small circle of people who touch your heart in that very special way.
In the book, Doris has a computer, and she uses it skillfully. Did you great aunt know her way around the computer as well?
She was open minded and very smart. She was the only working woman in my family when I was little. If she were alive today she would most certainly be digital.
Is there a single phrase in your book that means the most to you?
The last sentence: Did you love enough? I think that sentence is so important; life is too short not to love. The world sure needs more love.
Why did you choose to have a 96-year-old main character?
I wanted to show how much the elderly have to say, and how much life wisdom they have.
The most rewarding response I get to this is book is when readers write to me to say that, upon finishing, they immediately contacted an older relative. It warms my heart that my book has actually brought people closer together.
Left: Sofia Lundberg as a child with her great aunt Doris
Do you think it’s important to talk to older people? What can we learn from them?
Many old people have led adventurous lives. If you ask an older relative about his or her youth, chances are he or she will take you on an adventure. Maybe they don't remember much from yesterday, but old memories stay intact much longer, even when our memories fail. Your relatives will likely share stories
Left: Doris, photographed by Dagmar Andersson
A Publishers Lunch Buzz Book
“Written with love, told with joy. Very easy to enjoy.”
—Fredrik Backman, author of A Man Called Ove
"In a reader's lifetime, there are a few books that will be companions forever. For me, The Red Address Book is one of them. It will comfort you, and remind you of all the moments when you grabbed life with both hands. It is also an homage to the wisdom of women who have lived longer than most of us. One is never too old to learn that love is the only meaning of life—let’s listen to these women."
—Nina George, author of The Little Paris Bookshop
“A charming, fragile romance.”—Kirkus Reviews
"The Red Address Book is a love letter to the human heart. Full of tenderness and empathy, Lundberg has created more than just a novel—she has created a window into the soul."
—Alyson Richman, internationally bestselling author of The Lost Wife and The Velvet Hours
“A warm and tender story about life, memories, and the power of love and friendship. A novel with heart and humor!”
—Katarina Bivald, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
“Sofia Lundberg has written a wonderful debut. The story of the life of Doris is told with a whole lot of love. It is full of warmth and compassion.”
—Jan-Philipp Sendker, author of The Art of Hearing Heartbeats
“You’ll be hearing a lot about Sofia in the new year if you’re in the UK, but if you’re in Sweden, France, Spain, Germany, etc, etc, you’ll already know how romantic and fabulous her novel, The Red Address Book is.”
—Lucy Dillon, author of Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts
“Doris’s life story is magnetic, and it’s her strong personality and pearls of wisdom … that drive the book….Fans of Fredrik Backman will find much to like here.”
About the Author
Sofia Lundberg is a journalist and former magazine editor. Her debut novel, The Red Address Book, will be published in 31 territories worldwide. She lives in Stockholm with her son.
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That said, close to half the novel describes dailiness—Doris’ current physical frailties and struggles and Jenny’s children’s minutiae. I found this tedious and often painful.
The premise of this novel, remembering stories of important people in your address book, sounds delightful. In this case, however, the tone is so depressing, the stories became flat and only mildly interesting. The Red Address Book is impressive as a debut novel, but I am sorry to report disappointing enjoyment factor from this reader.
The story was interesting, but it felt dated. Granted, Doris, the main character, is 96 years old. She is frail and her life is ending. Perhaps, it was a purposeful decision to use antiquated language and terms of endearment like “darling” or “the little one,” but why then did I have a similar feeling when Jenny, Doris’ grandniece joined the story. She is a young, modern mother with a special affection for Doris, but her sections didn’t feel authentic to me.
The author explains a great deal instead of allowing the story to unfold naturally. Also, big events are glossed over and there is a lack of an emotional response to major tragedies. Some storylines are left unfinished, and some of them defy believability.
I may sound ultra critical, and I don’t mean to be, because there is much to like here. The premise of the novel was unique, using address book entries to tell the story was a smart approach. The short chapters helped move the story along. Doris is a fascinating character.
I am sure there will be a following for this book, and many four and five star reviews. It could be a case of it is me not the novel. Don’t let my review discourage you from reading it.
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 colorful 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, unlock the secrets of their family and finally look to the future? And whatever became of Allan, the love of Doris’s life?
My Thoughts: I was hooked on The Red Address Book from the very first page. I loved Doris, who at 96, looks back on the life she has led, filling in her memories from names in her address book. Stories she narrated for us in alternating storylines take us to the past and then bring us back to the present. I felt as if Doris was a friend, and that her experiences in the past could have happened to people I knew and loved.
Jenny is her great niece, with whom she Skypes regularly. So when Doris falls, and then later has a medical crisis, Jenny comes to her in Stockholm, bringing along her youngest child, Tyra. The reunion fills in the blanks for Jenny, and also brings closure to Doris about some missing parts of her life. There was a great feeling of joy, as well as sadness, as the book came to a close.
This memorable story is one that I will never forget, and it earned 5 stars,
I am reflecting on her life now--the author gives us this great privilege by pulling us vividly into her struggles, her loves, her yearnings, her losses. Doris is such a strong and resilient woman. Without saying too much here, know that this book is one swelling with hope and affirmation. Sometimes you get your happy ending.
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