The Red Address Book

The Red Address Book

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781328473011
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 01/08/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 9,966
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Sofia Lundberg is a journalist and former magazine editor. Her debut novel, The Red Address Book, will be published in 32 territories worldwide. She lives in Stockholm with her son.

Read an Excerpt

The saltshaker. The pillbox. The bowl of lozenges. The blood-pressure monitor in its oval plastic case. The magnifying glass and its red-bobbin-lace strap, taken from a Christmas curtain, tied in three fat knots. The phone with the extra-large numbers. The old red-leather address book, its bent corners revealing the yellowed paper within. She arranges everything carefully, in the middle of the kitchen table. They have to be lined up just so. No creases on the neatly ironed baby-blue linen tablecloth.
 
A moment of calm as she looks out at the street and the dreary weather. People rushing by, with and without umbrellas. The bare trees. The gravelly slush on the asphalt, water trickling through it.
 
A squirrel darts along a branch, and a flash of happiness twinkles in her eyes. She leans forward, following the blurry little creature’s movements carefully. Its bushy tail swings from side to side as it moves lithely between branches. Then it jumps down to the road and quickly disappears, heading off to new adventures.
 
It must almost be time to eat, she thinks, stroking her stomach. She picks up the magnifying glass and with a shaking hand raises it to her gold wristwatch. The numbers are still too small, and she has no choice but to give up. She clasps her hands calmly in her lap and closes her eyes for a moment, awaiting the familiar sound at the front door.
 
 

“Did you nod off, Doris?”
 
An excessively loud voice abruptly wakes her. She feels a hand on her shoulder, and sleepily tries to smile and nod at the young caregiver who is bending over her.
 
“I must have.” The words stick, and she clears her throat.
 
“Here, have some water.” The caregiver is quick to hold out a glass, and Doris takes a few sips.
 
“Thank you . . . Sorry, but I’ve forgotten your name.” It’s a new girl again. The old one left; she was going back to her studies.
 
“It’s me, Doris. Ulrika. How are you today?” she asks, but she doesn’t stop to listen to the answer.
 
Not that Doris gives one.
 
She quietly watches Ulrika’s hurried movements in the kitchen. Sees her take out the pepper and put the saltshaker back in the pantry. In her wake she leaves creases in the tablecloth.
 
“No extra salt, I’ve told you,” Ulrika says, with the tub of food in her hand. She gives Doris a stern look. Doris nods and sighs as Ulrika peels back the plastic wrap. Sauce, potatoes, fish, and peas, all mixed together, are tipped out onto a brown ceramic plate. Ulrika puts the plate in the microwave and turns the dial to two minutes. The machine starts up with a faint whirr, and the scent of fish slowly begins to drift through the apartment. While she waits, Ulrika starts to move Doris’s things: she stacks the newspapers and mail in a messy pile, takes the dishes out of the dishwasher.
 
“Is it cold out?” Doris turns back to the heavy drizzle. She can’t remember when she last set foot outside her door. It was summer. Or maybe spring.
 
“Yeah, ugh, winter’ll soon be here. The raindrops almost felt like tiny lumps of ice today. I’m glad I’ve got the car so I don’t have to walk. I found a space on your street, right outside the door. The parking’s actually much better in the suburbs, where I live. It’s hopeless here in town, but sometimes you get lucky.” The words stream from Ulrika’s mouth, then her voice becomes a faint hum. A pop song; Doris recognizes it from the radio. Ulrika whirls away. Dusts the bedroom. Doris can hear her clattering around and hopes she doesn’t knock over the vase, the hand-painted one she’s so fond of.
 
When Ulrika returns, she is carrying a dress over one arm. It’s burgundy, wool, the one with bobbled arms and a thread hanging from the hem. Doris had tried to pull it loose the last time she wore the dress, but the pain in her back made it impossible to reach below her knees. She holds out a hand to catch it now, but grasps at thin air when Ulrika suddenly turns and drapes the dress over a chair. The caregiver comes back and starts to loosen Doris’s dressing gown. She gently pulls the arms free and Doris whimpers quietly, her bad back sending a wave of pain into her shoulders. It’s always there, day and night. A reminder of her age.
 
“I need you to stand up now. I’ll lift you on the count of three, OK?” Ulrika places an arm around her, helps her to her feet, and pulls the dressing gown away.
 

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The Red Address Book 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
gaele 10 days ago
Both of my grandmothers had address books, that they would keep on the shelf, with names and addresses added, crossed off, and with little notes attached to mark birthdays, anniversaries and occasions. One of my grandmothers had extended her note-taking of friends, relatives and acquaintances to one of the many books in which she kept recipes – all noted with substitutions, what does and doesn’t work, and notes about how well (or not) a dish was received. Here, Lundberg brings us the story of Doris, now at 96, she is using her own book to create a story of her life to share with her grandniece Jenny, living in the US. Weekly Skype calls are among the only ‘visitors’ that Doris has now, and this trip through a book that she was given by her father as a child becomes the jumping-off point to tell the tale of Doris’ life. Oh I found this story so engrossing and engaging! Clear moments from point A to B are suddenly disrupted by a memory or choice in Doris’ life that bring us along in ways unexpected, but always intriguing. Revealing connections that become an ersatz love story, with the one ‘true’ love of her life gradually revealing as her tale comes to life, Doris is experiencing something of a romp through the emotions as she travels down this lane of memories that will uncover her story. Most of her memories are wonderfully sweet, with a few choices and situations that are almost heartbreaking even these many years later, Doris’ story illuminates her life in ways unexpected – but what a glorious way to share the innermost bits of your life with your family. Starting a bit slow while the end seems to feel less cohesive and well-presented, the story brings a sense of a life fully lived at the end of the journey, uncovering secrets, joys and long ago loves that endure to the end. This is not a ‘devour it” book, but one that requires you to sit back and enjoy the journey, discovering more about Doris, and perhaps a bit about yourself as memories are jogged and the ideas of ‘looking back’ take hold. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: al conclusions are my own responsibility.
Jill Hamilton-Krawczyk 12 days ago
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg is beautifully written, unique, joyous and heartbreaking... you won’t be able to put it down—guaranteed! Doris is a 96-year-old woman living in Stockholm. She has only one living relative—her great niece, Jenny, who lives in the the United States. This novel is part fictional memoir, part historical fiction, part romance and and one hundred percent amazing! The reader learns about and falls in love with Doris as she reminisces through her red address book which contains the names of all the people she has met thoughout her very eventful life. Most of the names are crossed out with DEAD written next to them. So her memories do not die with her, Doris records her life on paper for Jenny to read. This is a most charming book that I very much enjoyed! Bravo!
judgie39 16 days ago
This book is a must read. I could not put it down. Doris’s red address book was a gift from her father before he passed away unexpectedly. Now she is 96 years old and is looking back on her life and the names (many of them dead) in her book. The Red Address book is about Doris recalling the people in her life that have had both positive and negative effects on her life. The Red Address Book was an emotional roller coaster and I did not want to get off. The idea that Doris wants to write down her memories, so the people in her life are not forgotten, is heartwarming. There were many times while reading that I was reminded of my grandmother and her personal stories. Doris shows us that life can be messy, but also filled with joy. She is also a reminder to take the time to talk to your older relatives and spend time with the people you love.
SL22268 3 days ago
Lovely story! Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for an e-ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book and the format. Doris is a 96 year old woman, who lives alone in Sweden. Her only family is her grand-niece Jenny, who lives in the US. Ever since she was little, she adds names to her Red Address Book that was a gift from her father, of everyone that she meets. Now at 96 she is reliving her stories about these people, before crossing them out "DEAD" - at her age, not too many remain. Going back and forth from present to past and back again, this is a delightful story and I highly recommend!
SallyH 4 days ago
This book was gorgeous. I love the idea behind it--start with an address book and then use each chapter to describe a vignette of life with that person,, all the while building up the story from the twenties to present day. I also appreciated the author pulling us back to the main character regularly--going back through her memories but dealing with her daily moments at the same time. Lovely book.
brf1948 7 days ago
Sofia Lundberg brings us an excellent historical novel with a quirky layout - 96 year old Swedish resident Doris shares her life stories with her only living relative, an American grandniece Jenny. As she leafs through her old address book and sees all of the entries marked through, with DEAD written beside them, Doris begins writing the memories she has of each address book entry, so that her memories, her influencers, don't die along with her. Some of these tales can be shared as they Skype on a regular basis, Jenny in her life in San Francisco, and Doris in Stockholm. But with the exception of Jenny and her family, all of the people that Doris knew and loved over the years are gone. And she knows that to know her story, you have to understand her 'family', and her life choices. Until her recent hospitalization following a fall Doris has been able to live on her own with only day help, which has freed her up to organize photos and type out her stories and print them out, to send to Jenny in San Francisco. Now, with the setback of the broken hip and looming heart problems, Doris may not be allowed to return to her home. And as she continues to have a weekly skype with Jenny, her failing health is obvious. Jenny must find a way to go to Stockholm and be with Doris. Her husband and boys are old enough to manage on their own, but her baby Tyra must accompany her to be with Doris as they say goodbye. As she reads Doris' memories between hospital visits, Jenny begins to appreciate the rich tapestry that was her great-aunt's life and times. Doris had an exceptional modeling career in Paris before World War II, a love to last the ages that was, again, disrupted by the war, and the unwavering love and support of other artists throughout Europe, through the years. And there is one thing that, with the help of her husband back in the USA, Jenny can do to help Doris die happy.... I received a free electronic copy of this historical novel from Netgalley, Sofia Lundberg, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.
fictionaltiff 8 days ago
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg was everything I wanted from a historical fiction book. Doris is a 96-year-old woman who on the surface is lonely and quiet, no friends or family left to care for her. But as Doris opens her red address book, time unravels, as well as memories of poverty, death, and heartbreak; intertwined within that though is a life full of love and unforgettable adventure. The reader follows Doris through her many, hard years, from the very beginning as a child in Sweden separated from her family; to the streets of Paris, where she first falls in love and is a model for Chanel during the Jazz Age; to a long boat ride to America at the brink of World War II... and so on. Doris experiences a long, full life that covers the entire spectrum of the human journey. The reader is able to experience this just the same through the incredible storytelling abilities of Sofia Lundberg. In a way, Lundberg’s writing does have Fredrik Backman’s qualities, as she’s able to demonstrate raw human emotion and the realistic choices we as people make that can dramatically affect those around us. And sprinkle the great storytelling with quotes that stick — life lessons that are relatable and memorable. Maybe I’m just a sucker for historical fiction and sappy, sad love stories, but this book was an easy five stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I only put it down because I ran out of words to read at the end... Sometimes I hate that about books. I won’t be surprised to see this book on top lists because it broke and comforted my heart all at once — and I’d do it all over again. Cons: This one took about 50 pages to really suck me in. But once I got into the story, I didn’t want it to end. I wish this book were a little longer so I wouldn’t have to stop. I’m so glad I read this after The Paris Wife — no book hangovers here. Give me all the books on Paris during the Jazz Age, please.
Shelley-S-Reviewer 9 days ago
What a gift this book is to us from Sofia Lundberg. Reading The Red Address Book was a journey through emotions as the characters experience heart warmth and heartache. I enjoyed this book so much I didn't want it to end. Doris, our dear protagonist, makes friends with people that I wish I had in my life. The dialogue is spectacular and I felt as though I was there with Doris. I am in awe. I enjoyed the evocative descriptions of nature, the villages, and townspeople. I loved that the author focuses on things other than Doris; at those times, the story is especially lively and spirited. I think that you have to love a quirky book to love this one. It was a bit strange and a bit sad but I enjoyed reading it. There were lots of quirky characters to keep me attentive so it was a good book choice for me. I hate saying anything about the ending but I loved it. This book is unique. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the French countryside and the emotions described in the book. We all experience things different from others and this book captures this well. Sofia Lundberg touched my heart and soul with The Red Address Book. I loved this book so much. This is one of those books that you want to read slowly to savor each and every page. I highly recommend it.
TheBookBag 9 days ago
What a beautiful, touching story! The premise of The Red Address Book intrigued me from the start. We learn about this 96 year-old woman's life through the old address book she has kept for years. So many of the people she has known and loved in the past are gone now but she still has her memories of them and the time they had together. I loved Doris and her spunkiness—what an interesting life she led. And the relationship she had with her grandniece, Jenny, was very special and heartwarming to witness. This was a beautifully written story and I found myself totally wrapped up in the lives of Doris and Jenny. This is Sofia's debut novel and I'm excited to see what else she has in store for us as readers. What an amazing, wonderful story!
CJONES 9 days ago
The Red Address Book is a heart warming story of an elderly woman who is reflecting back on her long life. She had many amazing adventures that took her all over the world. She also met many people along the way, both good and bad, that shaped who she was. All of those people are listed in the red address book her father gave her when she was a girl. She decides that she needs to tell her life story after finding her address book so that her own story doesn't die along with her. “I wish you enough. Enough sun to light up your days, enough rain that you appreciate the sun. Enough joy to strengthen your soul, enough pain that you can appreciate life’s small moments of happiness. And enough friends that you can manage a farewell now and then.” This page turner was beautifully written. It captured my heart and brought tears to my eyes. It is a reminder that life is one big adventure. To hold on tight and try to enjoy the ride
Anonymous 9 days ago
The premise of this book was so interesting: reading through an elderly woman's address book and her journal entries to learn more about her life and the people she knew. Doris is 96 years old, and she is dying. One thing she has left for her great niece is her address book and a narrative that explains who each person is and what they meant to Doris. Doris also used to be a live mannequin in Paris before she went through the hardships of World War II, and she leaves extensive details about her life in various parts of Europe and America. Throughout the narrative, the reader gets a sweeping picture of a life well lived in spite of everything bad that happened to Doris and the people she lost along the way. I enjoyed this book very much, in spite of the difficult and sometimes heartbreaking subject matter. The characters and everything that happened to them seemed so real. I felt so bad for Doris and all she had to endure from a young age all the way through her elderly years. It's amazing how one event can so radically change the trajectory of someone's life, for good or bad. I didn't care for the profanity and some of the views expressed, and the rape scene was especially disturbing to me. In spite of those things, I feel like I can recommend this book to adults who enjoy reading realistic stories about life and difficult circumstances. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Bookish First program. A positive review was not required, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Librarian_V_Reader 9 days ago
Librarian: What a beautiful story. This is the kind of story that I always hope historical fiction novels are going to be, but seldom are. That being said, I do worry that some readers will ignore this one, because a.) it's a work in translation, and many American readers tend to overlook European works (though the fact that this book originates in Sweden may help, as Swedish authors tend to have a favorable reputation with American readers) and b.) it's format is rather unique. The memoir-esque style of the book serves it well, and really helps to highlight the story, but I worry that it could alienate some readers who are expecting a more straightforward novel. Reader: Historical fiction is a genre that is almost always on my "genres I should read more of" list. I mean, it's a genre that I only occasionally read, even though I normally enjoy it when I do. This book serves as yet another reminder of why I need to read more of it. This little tale of a life lived to its fullest is the kind of story that makes you feel all the things, in part, because of the sheer simplicity of the narrative. This is the story of a life. It is nothing more, and nothing less. Doris, is not some chosen one, not some tragic heroine. She is just a woman who lived her life as it happened, without some overarching narrative driving things. And that's what makes this book so beautiful. It reminds us that in the end we're all just people on a journey that seems ordinary as it happens, but is really something rather extraordinary.
Bookapotamus 10 days ago
A Sweet Story. This one was a bit sleepy for me. It's a sweet, sad story, but you kind of know how it's going to end right from the beginning. I also felt like this could have been called, "A few of the people Doris met in her life, who are now probably dead." The address book was a minor character, and didn't really add much for me. But the stories of her life were very entertaining, really interesting, and fairly sad, right up until the end. I think some people will love this, I thought it was just OK. Doris is really starting to feel her age, but is so fiercely independent, she thinks she can just continue on her own. It's pretty hard to do much of anything these days, at 96, even just standing up takes its toll on her. She's got a series of nurses who breeze in and out during the day, many whom barely interact with her - just do their job, and go on with their own lives. Until one day Doris has a fall in her Sweden home, and ends up in the hospital. The only family member left is a niece, Jenny who lives in America, who she writes and Skypes with often. We learn that Doris has been writing about her life, going through each name in her address book and reminiscing. And what a remarkable life it has been. From being sent away by her mother to be a maid, to Paris as a "live mannequin" (a model), to falling in love, living with famous artists, trips across the world in a time of war, and a very rough family life - it's incredible what Doris has been through. And having no kids of her own, she's desperate to get her story down for Jenny before she dies. It's a sweet story of tragedies and triumphs, loves and losses. I liked it. I didn't love it. But, it warmed the heart for sure.
Katie__B 10 days ago
3.5 stars I'm a sucker for these books that feature an elderly character who decides to reflect back on their life. This one had a unique premise as a woman's address book was used to help tell the story. While this book had a bit of charm it also packed an emotional punch in ways I wasn't expecting. Ninety-six year old Doris doesn't have much contact with the outside world and therefore looks forward to her weekly Skype sessions with her grandniece, Jenny. Doris's father gave her an address book when she was a child and she decides to take a look at it while she writes down some of the moments that shaped her life. The story went in some directions I didn't see coming but it makes sense given just about everyone has hard moments in life. It felt like there was better focus in the first half or so of the book than the later chapters when in some ways it felt like the story shifted gears and turned into something else. I'm not saying I didn't like it, but I do wish there would have been more of a smooth transition. Overall though, you do end up falling in love with Doris as she is an easy character to feel emotionally invested in and I would definitely recommend this as a good read. I received a free arc of this book from BookishFirst and the publisher. I was under no obligation to post a review here and all views expressed are my honest opinion.
Angie0184 10 days ago
A mishmash of emotionally eviscerating, depressing, and yet somehow full of gorgeous and evocative imagery at the same time. The vast majority of the book depressed the ever loving h*ll out of me, but the last gew chapters sent me into full on can't catch my breath hiccup sobs. The relationship between Jenny and Doris would have vastly benefited from some lead in. It was a bit hard of a buy in that she cared so much about this old woman since we didn't find out about their relationship til the last portion of the book. Doris and Allan's relationship moved me more than anything else. Oh, and Jenny? Throw the whole d*mn husband away. No one that selfish has a change of heart in one phone call. Overall it was a good couple days worth of read. Jenny was an odd bird, she just seemed to not fit with the rest of the story.
Anonymous 10 days ago
There is a reason this book has been a best seller all over the world! It is a great read! “The Red Address Book” is the tender and touching story of Doris, a 96-year-old, as she approaches death. The story centers on her address book and those contained in it that she has loved. It is a gentle story yet the strength of Doris and her last living relative, Jenny, shines throughout. Both women, while handling Doris’ pending death in their own way, approach it with courage and grace. One of the things that makes this book wonderful to read and thought-provoking is that the grace both Doris and Jenny hold is not perfectly packaged. The journey is at times messy with uncertainty, doubt, and fear, but there is no mistaking it is rich with grace just the same. Like all great reads, “The Red Address Book” will leave you finishing the last page and wishing for more! I was honored to receive an advanced copy of this book through BookishFirst and the Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
SilversReviews 16 days ago
Doris is 96, lives alone in Stockholm, and only has a niece in the United States that she Skypes with. Doris has caregivers stopping by during the day and is essentially alone except for her memories and the red address book her father gave to her when she was thirteen. The red address book has kept track of every person she has met over her life time. At thirteen after her father died, Doris was forced into becoming a servant in a wealthy household since her mother couldn't afford to feed her. While in the wealthy household, a model agency saw Doris and Doris became a living mannequin in Paris. THE RED ADDRESS BOOK takes us back and forth in Doris' life as she reminisces about her past and all the people that have been in and have touched her life. This book was a beautiful, beautiful read that I didn't want to end. It was heartwarming as well as heartbreaking. For a debut novel, the author did a marvelous job with the dual time line and with keeping my interest. I truly enjoyed Doris' interesting life story. It made me want to document anything in my life that might be important for my family to know. If you are in need of a book that will have you remembering and loving the characters and the story line long after you close the last page, THE RED ADDRESS BOOK will be a welcome read. I absolutely LOVED this book that was filled with love and a book everyone needs to read. 5/5 This book was given to me as an ARC by the publisher via NetGalley and BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review.