Reviews for The red address book

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

A lifetime of memories is contained within the worn leather covers of an address book, which was given to Doris by her father on her tenth birthday. Doris has kept the book all her life, but now, at 96 years old, living alone in Stockholm, she has crossed off most of the names it contains, as one by one her loved ones have died. Their stories, however, remain, and in a solitary existence punctuated only by visits from caretakers and Skype calls with her grandniece in faraway San Francisco, Doris begins to write down what she remembers. Her story stretches from working as a young maid in Stockholm through her years as a living mannequin at the center of 1930s Parisian fashion, and then adjusting to a new life in Manhattan. The relationships she forms along the way, from the tortured gay artist who becomes a lifelong friend to the charismatic young man whose love drives Doris to battle enormous odds in an attempt to find him during WWII, are beautifully brought to life in this sweetly elegiac novel.--Bridget Thoreson Copyright 2018 Booklist

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Lundberg's sometimes overly sweet debut centers on a 96-year-old Swedish woman passing down her life story by remembering the names in her address book. Doris may be old, but she doesn't want to be treated as such. However, when she ends up in the hospital after an accident, she must face her own mortality and desire for independence. Doris, who has lived a full and colorful life, wants to make sure her American granddaughter Jenny knows all about it before it's too late. So she sets about writing the story of her life, framed by the names in her address book. One by one she goes through the entries and describes her life at the time she was associated with each person-modeling in Paris, then experiencing the horrors of WWII before moving to Sweden and marrying. While the present-day narrative is often cluttered with overly sentimental dialogue and hampered by an underwhelming account of Jenny's travel woes as she tries to reach Doris, Doris's life story is magnetic, and it's her strong personality and pearls of wisdom ("Start cultivating your talents rather than going through life thinking you aren't not good enough. In the end, that's all that really matters. You're never any more than your soul") that drive the book. Both story lines become melodramatic during the neatly tied ending, but fans of Fredrik Backman will find much to like here. (Jan.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Nearing the end of her days, 96-year-old Doris Alm turns the pages of her red address book, a gift from her father decades ago, lingering over names crossed through with the word "dead" etched in the margin.Impoverished at age 13 by her father's untimely death, Doris is sent by her mother to work as a maid for the glamorous Madame Serafin. Stunned to be thrust into the world so soon, Doris bravely embarks on the first of what will be many adventures in her life. As the third maid, Doris takes on the most unpleasant tasks, but she also meets the artist Gsta Nilsson, a man forced to hide his homosexuality even in bohemian Europe. Gsta and Doris become lifelong friends even as Doris travels with Madame to Paris, where she is sold off to Jean Ponsard and begins work as a living mannequin, modeling clothes in department stores and for magazine shoots. She meets the love of her life, Allan Smith, in the park one afternoon. A whirlwind romance ensues until suddenly Allan disappears, moving to the U.S. to care for his mother. Brokenhearted, Doris plunges into her work, which enables her to care for her younger sister, Agnes, after their mother dies, at least until war breaks out. Just as all hope seems lost, a battered, yellowed letter from Allan arrives with funds to take Doris and Agnes to America, where fresh calamities will keep them apart. In this, her debut novel, Swedish writer Lundberg has created a cast of warm characters, all conjured anew in the eyes of Doris' great-niece, Jenny, who's arrived to sit with Doris in her final days. Reading through Doris' book and hearing her stories, Jenny concocts a plan to reunite the star-crossed lovers.A charming, fragile romance. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.