The Red Address Book – Review

Many thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for granting my Netgalley wish for The Red Address Book.img_8616

As soon as I saw the cover for this book and briefly skimmed the blurb, I knew it would be a book I loved. I immediately tracked down the publisher and inquired about an advance review copy, only to be turned down. I don’t think I have ever been so bummed to be denied for a book, but as fate would have it, I ended up with a copy a month or two later. This beautiful book by Swedish author, Sofia Lundberg, was the exact reason I held out on publishing my “Favorite Reads of 2018” list yesterday when I wanted to. I had high hopes for this one and knew it was going to touch the deepest parts of my heart.

There’s something about the nostalgia of an elderly person reflecting upon their life that I’ve always been drawn to, even as a child. There’s age in my soul, the empathy I’ve been given, that allows me to deeply feel a connection to stories like this one. I desire to make my life a life well lived because I know precisely the things I will come to feel remorseful about if I make it to old age. Even from childhood, I have lived life resistant to regret, thanks to the wisdom I’ve garnered from stories like this one. The ups, downs, and in-between moments of a person’s life are fascinating, and since I only get one chance of my own, being able to dive into these stories, fictional or not, fulfills my curiosity.

“When time is all you have, your thoughts become quite deep.”


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 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?

A charming novel that prompts reflection on the stories we all should carry to the next generation, and the surprises in life that can await even the oldest among us, The Red Address Book introduces Sofia Lundberg as a wise—and irresistible—storyteller.

The Red Address Book is intensely sentimental, often depressing, and wholly captivating. I loved reading about each person that impacted Doris’s life in one way another, whether for a short time or decades. The attachments we form to some people are always intriguing and to read about the history and shared moments between these characters felt real. I loved how this story read, in some ways, like a memoir and Historical Fiction, combining two of my favorite genres into one. In many ways, this story made me think of my all-time favorite movie – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.

As I was reading, I had to pause to underline many beautiful sentences and thoughts I wish I had the words to craft myself. Those moments are what reading is for. It connects us with people who live far away, people we are unlikely to never meet, and find a kindred spirit in a stranger. It makes us realize we’re all connected and we all share the same emotions and innate desires for lives.

“The greatest comfort in life comes from freely expressing one’s opinion and being met with nothing but love in return, even when opinions diverge.”

Though this book had a predominately melancholy tone, I couldn’t help but love it all the more. If this book would have been wholly cheerful, I would not have connected to the story in the way I did. The ending, though sad, is worth sticking around for. I was able to finish this with dry eyes and fullness in my heart. If you like sentimental stories, definitely pick this incredible book up on January 8, 2019 and start your new year off right!

Purchase on Amazon!


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