Many of us think of the past as the “good old days,” and for 96-year-old Doris Alm, there is almost a century’s worth of good days to keep track of. Feeling that her end is near, Doris decides to revisit the names in her address book and unload her memories of each person on paper, with the hope that they are passed down to her only living family, her grandniece Jenny, who has loved and admired Doris all her life.
So begins Sofia Lundberg’s The Red Address Book, with a very fragile Doris recalling a life with people long dead. We start in 1928 Stockholm, when Doris is only 10 years old, and move on to her days as a model in Paris in the 1930s, then to New York City, where she hopes to reunite with the love of her life. She later heads to England, where she is rescued off a sinking ship, and finally returns to Stockholm, where she types her final pages for Jenny.
With love and humor, Doris’ stories prove that the good old days are often filled with a lot of regret, pain and heartache. But what the heart chooses to remember is our perseverance through the most impossible of challenges. Just when Lundberg has led you to believe that Doris has said all there is to say, Jenny delivers an ending that even Doris could have never imagined.
Like a cozy conversation with your grandma, The Red Address Book warms your heart and soul.
This article was originally published in the January 2019 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.