The Red Address Book

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

When I saw this book and read the synopsis, I thought it could be a great story. When I read that it talked about Paris I simply couldn’t resist. I have to say that I had just read a book about a similar topic, but I really wanted to read The Red Address Book so I just crossed my fingers and hoped that it would be different and unique, and it was.
This is a compelling and gripping story about a young woman who has gone through so much and now waits for her future to come. She has lost many things and she talks about all the important people in her life, how they changed it and how her life was in different stages.
There were some parts that were not easy to read, and there were some parts that were extremely emotional and made my heart ache, but I can say that it is a beautiful story. I liked Doris, she was a strong woman, and she was admirable and determined. Jenny was a nice character as well, and I really liked Gösta too. It was enjoyable reading about Paris and New York and also a little bit about Sweden.
The final part was very intense and I had a huge knot in my throat, but it was beautifully written and it was absolutely touching. Overall, I enjoyed the story, it was amazing and I would definitely like to read more books by Sofia.
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Doris is old--96 years old and living alone in an apartment in Stockholm. Her red address book is a cherished reminder of the life she has lived, vivid and detailed through times and experiences that few can imagine, veering from young, beautiful, and dazzling in Paris to struggles in America and Europe later on.  Most of her beloveds have died or been lost to her, but not her grand-niece Jenny who lives in the United States who is devoted to her loving Dossi who raised her, made possible her own wonderful life.  Through memories and present day struggles, Lundberg tells a gripping story about love, loss, and living the best that one can do.  Her language, her characters are exceptionally well-wrought, complex and entrancing.  I admit to more than a minor crush on several of her closest friends and lovers.
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Historical Fiction
Adult
How do we want to be remembered? Even close friends of many years are often surprised to learn our stories of growing up, of jobs had and lost, of paths taken and ignored. Doris is 96 years old; she has outlived all her friends and nearly all her family, and her days are spent in pain. The bright note in her life is a weekly Skype call to Jenny, her only living relative who is in America. Thumbing through her beloved red address book, given to her as a child by her father, Doris sees so many names crossed out, and remembers their stories and hers. She decides to write these stories down for Jenny, from her childhood in Sweden, modelling in Paris in the 1920s and 30s, falling in love, escaping to New York City with her sister when Hitler invaded France, and eventually returning to Stockholm where she now lives.
This novel was originally published in Swedish in 2015, and is deftly translated by Alice Menzies. It’s written in two voices – in Doris’ voice as she recalls her life stories, and in third person for the present day, when Doris’ grasp on life is weakening. This device allows the reader to easily keep track of the dual storylines, and provides deep insight into Doris’ life, one of love and longing. She also emerges as a fiercely independent and determined woman of passion, sentiment, and devotion. And even as she nears the end of her life, there are a couple of surprises in store for her. This is an honest and affecting portrayal of a woman’s life, with all its ups and downs; in effect, her life path is set when her mother sends her off with these words: “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.” Indeed. A good choice for fans of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and A Man Called Ove. My thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the advance reading copy provided digitally through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37570458
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This was a somewhat sad but very interesting book which is the reviewing of an old address book by a lonely, elderly woman.  Doris, the narrator, is 96 years old and not in the best of health.  She lives alone, in Stockholm,  and has only the company of her daily caregivers, who swoop in and out of her apartment after attending to their duties, such as feeding, bathing and light housekeeping.  She also Skypes with Jenny, her American grand-niece, who dearly loves her aunt.  One day Doris suffers a fall and is hospitalized in very serious condition.  Jenny and her youngest daughter fly from San Francisco to Stockholm to be with Doris.  The story of Doris' life is spelled out beautifully in chapters titled with the names of all the individuals in Doris' red address book.  The stories are all written by Doris, in her lonely moments, in an attempt to make certain Jenny knows as much as possible about her family history and Doris' life in particular.  A fascinating read.  Strongly recommend.
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Imagine having an address book that sums up your life.  For 96 year old Doris living in Stockholm, Sweden that's what we find in this novel.  In deciding to give her grand-niece, Jenny, a family history she turns to that book, an address book that was given to her by her father so many years ago.  With each entry, now crossed out, with many people, family members and friends now passed on, the memories come flooding back and so her life's history that are between those pages (in alphabetical order) is now a memoir for her grand-niece.

This book evoked so many of my own memories while I was reading it.  It gave me a sense of nostalgia, but more than that the book found a way into my heart.  A beautiful story, beautifully told and one I will read again.  If I were to sum it up I would describe it as:  sweet, sentimental and oft times sad.

My thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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OMG
What an absolutely lovely book.  Read about 96 year old Doris.  Her father gave her an address book when she was a child.  It is of little surprise that many of the names and address she has written in the book over the years have been crossed out due to death. She wants to show Jenny, her grand niece to story of her life through using  the book.   
What a woman! And what a story!
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Have a tissue or two handy as you read Sofia Lundberg's "The Red Address Book," now available in an English translation. This acclaimed novel is historic fiction at its best.

Doris, a 96-year-old woman who lives alone in a Stockholm apartment, knows her time is running short. She surrounds herself with the few items that hold her memories, including a red address book given to her as a child. Most of the entries now say "dead" next to the name, but each one is a story, memories that she wants share with her precious niece Jenny, who lives in America and Skypes regularly. 

So begin the recollections that Doris hopes to pen before her death. Recollections of the people she's loved and lost across the decades, from her years as a Swedish maid and a French model, her introduction to art, her first love, a new life in America, and the baby that was never meant to be.

When Doris is hospitalized, Jenny comes to her aunt's side, only to learn there's so much more to this dear woman's life. As a gesture of love and admiration, Jenny takes on the task of helping Doris write one last chapter in her amazing life story.
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The story of her life is interestingly told by the pages in her address book.  An older woman close to death decides to write her memoir for her beloved grand niece to read.   Overall, this is a very sad book, about someone who had to make almost incomprehensibly sad choices in her life.  She was alone often and practically penniless in her youth, discovered by her beauty, yet cruelly used by her employers and men in general. 
The chapters are distinguished by a person's name in her address book, telling what impact that person made on her life.
I liked the book, but it was just so sad that I can only give it a 3 star rating.
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I enjoyed the way in which Jenny kept in touch with her old great Aunt Doris. And the idea of Doris going through her address book to relive various parts of her life was very intriguing. Some of the day to day part wasn't as interesting, I felt like I wanted more of the stories.
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It is nearly impossible to believe that this book was written by a 45-year-old woman (presumably several years younger at the time of writing). Though some of 96-year-old Doris's life experiences seem so implausible, Lundberg tells the story with such depth of feeling that they are entirely believable. It all feels so immediate. Her musings on aging, outliving your loved ones, regrets of a lifetime, and similar subjects are incredibly moving and insightful. It makes the reader want to tell every elderly person they meet "I see you." Truly a beautiful book.
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The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg is one of the first books I read this year. It was hands down the perfect book to kick off the new year. I received an advanced reader's copy from NetGalley and the publisher.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. Even though I had an inkling how it might end, it was still worth reading all the way through. When Doris winds up in the hospital after taking a fall, I found myself wanting to sit by her bedside, help her continue her writing and care for her until her niece arrived. It's rare that I come across a character in a book that feels more alive than the words on the page but Doris is one of them.

Lundberg flits between first and third person; first person as Doris recalls and records her stories for Jenny and third person to move the plot along. As a reader, I found this a wonderful way to carry the story along and differentiate between memories and the characters' storylines.This is one of those books that sits with me long after I've finished reading it. It was truly heart-wrenching and beautifully written. The Red Address Book is one of those books I could read again and again. It makes the perfect book club book and would make a beautiful transition from novel to the big screen (hint, hint Hollywood).
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A sweet novel with a slow, winding plot that takes a look back at Doris Alm’s life.  Author, Sofia Lundberg, writes about Doris Alms, now a 96 year old Swedish woman, who does not want to be thought of as old, who has lived a life full to the brim.  She has lived through very tough times, the horrors of Word War II and also had some incredible adventures, being a fashion model in 1930s Paris. She starts off being sent away from a poor family into servitude as a maid at the age of 13. There, though she has to work very hard for her difficult employer, she meets some eccentric characters who will continue to shape the rest of her life.  Some of the people she reminisces about she has been involved with for a short amount of time, others are recurring through different stages of her life.  

Now, as Doris sits at home alone in her apartment waiting for the caretaker to come bring her a meal and help her take a shower, she recalls all the experiences of her life.  To help her put her memories in order she writes about all the people who came and went along through this long life lived over the past eighty years.  Reading each name in her red address book, she marks them off as dead and writes about their connections to her life.  She is intent on recording her memories for her great niece.

Going through her address book everyone in her life is dead except for her great niece, Jenny.  Jenny lives with her husband and three children across the ocean in San Francisco and visits with her Great Aunt, her only living relative, through Skype on a regular basis.  Jenny is experiencing her own doubts and troubles, balancing being a mother to young children and questioning her marriage.  In small segments we learn about Jenny's life and how the connection between Doris and Jenny developed and became such a strong family dynamic.  Doris has some wonderful advice to share with Jenny from all her life experiences.  My favorite piece of advice, "May there be enough sun to light up your days, enough rain to make you appreciate the sun."

We learn a bit of the lifestyles of the early nineteenth century as we hear about Doris's exploits.  Though there is always someone to rescue her just in the nick of time, Doris works through being broke and unemployed in New York and being torpedoed on a ship during World War II.  Some of the people she meets are helpful others are more dangerous.  There is the Swede on the bus in New York who offers her a home, a sailor on a dark pier who helps her board the ship bound for Europe.

In the end it was a three tissue book.  Lovely and sweet.
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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of The Red Address Book.  I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

96 year old Doris lives alone in her Stockholm apartment, but she is not always lonely.  Between the daily carers and her weekly Skype call with her grandniece Jenny and her family, Doris has enough of a connection to the outside world.  It is her connection to her past, however, that consumes much of the woman's days.  The red address book, gifted to Doris by her parents on her 10th birthday, holds a key to her past.  Each entry has a memory and it is this chronicle of the past that gives readers a true picture of the extraordinary life of Doris Alm.  When circumstances make her situation dire, will Jenny be able to help piece together a missing part of her beloved great aunt's life before it is too late?

The use of the address book as a conduit to the past is quite clever and is very successful in drawing the reader into Doris's life.  Doris comes alive in the pages of The Red Address Book, as her experiences are conveyed through the unique format.  This historical fiction gives readers a glance into life from Sweden to Paris during times of struggle for survival.  The grim picture that the author paints is quite realistic and, while I was reading The Red Address Book, I often forgot that this was a work of fiction.  I was hooked from the first page and was genuinely sad when I finished the book, in more ways than one.  The Red Address Book is definitely a novel that I would recommend to other readers and I look forward to reading more by author Sofia Lundberg in the future.
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This is the remarkable life story of a remarkable character who had an interesting, but not easy life. It may be the translation, but I found the writing a bit clunky and stiff. Still, the reader roots for Doris throughout the book and her feisty spirit at 96 is true to the strength she displayed through the difficult times in her life.
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This is a heartwarming tale about a 96 year old woman named Doris. She lives alone in Sweden and only has a Skype call with a relative in America once a week. She tells us the story of her life through people she has met thst are in her address book. I had so many emotions when reading this book. It is funny and beautiful at times it is sad as well. It is the story of a well lived life. 

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
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This is the story of Doris, a 96-year-old woman who lives by herself in Stockholm, Sweden. Other than her weekly Skype calls with her Grand-niece in America, Doris has no visitors other than her caretaker.  But, she does have a red address book that was given to her by her father where she keeps the memories of the important people in her life.  As Doris reads through the names in her book, she tells her life story.  And what an amazing story it is.  The characters jumped off the page so I feel like I know them and I felt compelled to keep turning the pages. This is a book you will laugh and cry with until the last page. I do not want to give any more information because I do not want to spoil any part of this jewel of a book.   
Thank you Netgalley for my copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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A sad story of lost love and missed opportunities told through the names in an old woman,Doris's,address book as she lies ill in hospital,communicating with Jenny,her niece ,through Skype.
It tells the story of her eventful life through a series of flashbacks and reminds us that many older people have had very interesting lives and should not be seen as they are in the present day.
It's a moving story and worth reading but maybe not if you're feeling sad.
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96 year old Doris was a frail woman living alone in her Stockholm apartment. She had a series of daily caregivers and was able to live alone. She had no other relatives than Jenny, her great niece who lived in San Francisco. She and Jenny Skyped often.

Then Doris fell and ended up in a hospital in Stockholm. Jenny continued to Skype with her great aunt but soon realized that Doris was dying. So Jenny took her 2 year old daughter, left her husband and sons and flew to be with Doris for her final days. 

Doris had a favorite address book that was give to her by her beloved father. Most of the entries in the book were followed by the words Dead. Doris decides that she wanted to write a memoir so that Jenny and her family would learn something about the older woman’s life. Doris began with her father’s death and how her mother forced her to work as maid to a wealthy socialite. Doris was taken to Paris where she eventually worked as a living mannequin who modeled clothes for wealthy women in fancy stores.She became a model for Chanel and other designers. It was in Paris that Doris met Allen, an American who became her the love of her life.

The memoir followed Doris when she and her sister traveled to New York in response to a letter Allen had written a year before. By the time the women arrived in the city, they were told that Allen had married and could not meet Doris. Her sister eventually married a man who took the the girls in so they could help his Swedish mother. 

World War II was raging in Europe but Doris felt she had to leave New York and return to France where Allen was fighting. Doris and Allen never met  but she ended up living with a recluse in England until after the war ends.

Jenny discovered the pages of the memoir and read them when she was not at the hospital with Doris. 

I enjoyed meeting Doris and reading the descriptions of life before and after World War II. I felt that some of the other characters were  it as well developed as Doris. I found the ending was not realistic but that it fit into the story nicely. 

This ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg was first published in Sweden in 2017. The book has since been translated to English by Alice Menzies and is available as of January 2019. This novel documents the sentimental journey of Doris, a 96-year-old woman living alone in Stockholm. Her only living relative is Jenny, her grandniece who lives in the US with her young family. The two women skype once a week and have a close and loving relationship. Doris was given a red address book by her father when she was a child. Throughout her long life, she wrote in many names of people who were part of her journey. In her old age, she started to write the story of each person in her book so that Jenny would know the history of Doris and herself. In failing health, Doris cannot forget one man who passed in and out of her life. Whatever happened to him? This small novel is a beautiful story of one woman's life. It is a little gem. Highly recommended. Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Doris’ story is rich with details, friendship, love, laughter and loneliness. From the perspective of the present to endowed glimpses of her past, Lundberg pieces together a story of a life fully lived.  Told across time and generations, Doris has experienced so much through the changing times.  A lovely look at a life and a generation.
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