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Benediction (Plainsong #3)

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,541 Ratings  ·  1,713 Reviews
When Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife must work together, along with their daughter, to make his final days as comfortable as possible, despite the bitter absence of their estranged son. Next door, a young girl moves in with her grandmother and contends with the memories that Dad’s condition stirs up of her own mother’s death. A newly arrived pr ...more
Hardcover, 258 pages
Published February 26th 2013 by Knopf
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Leah Plainsong and Eventide tie together much more closely than Benediction to either of them. Eventide's main plot line is a continuation of the main plot…morePlainsong and Eventide tie together much more closely than Benediction to either of them. Eventide's main plot line is a continuation of the main plot line in Plainsong, whereas that plot is only mentioned briefly in one paragraph of Benediction. I guess I would recommend reading Plainsong and Eventide in order, but it doesn't matter if you read Benediction before or after. (less)

Community Reviews

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Will Byrnes
Nov 24, 2014 Will Byrnes rated it it was amazing
Kent Haruf takes his time. His first novel, The Ties That Bind, was published in 1984, winning a Whiting Foundation Award and a Hemingway Foundation/PEN citation. His second novel, Where You Once Belonged was published in 1990. Plainsong, which became a best-seller and was a National Book Award finalist, was published in 1999. It's sequel, Eventide, was published in 2004. Nine years later we have Haruf's fifth novel, Benediction. All his novels are set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado, (a ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Benediction is a pensive novel about the dailiness of life in a small town, the neighborly kindnesses as well as the regrets and missed chances that haunt its residents. At times it's more a lament than a benediction.

"Dad" Lewis is the central character. He only has a few weeks left to live. Knowing this makes him treasure events and places that once seemed ordinary and unspecial. As his life draws to a close, he allows himself to revert to a childlike authenticity. He finally tells people what
Dec 04, 2013 Kim rated it it was amazing
When stopped one night on a dark outside street, a character in Haruf's haunting, beautiful novel is asked: "What are you doing out here?" And he replies, after some confusion about what it is he's doing, that he is simply looking at "The precious ordinary."

This moment lept out to me as the heart of this novel, as its entire message distilled down to one simple line. The precious ordinary. This is what Haruf writes. In all his novels he shines his own brand of lamplight on the beautiful edges o
May 20, 2016 orsodimondo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
Non credevo esistessero periodi adatti e periodi non adatti alla lettura di un libro.
Ho sempre pensato che l’Arte è preziosa anche quando parla di morte e di dolore, la Bellezza ha sempre un effetto tonificante, non esiste Bellezza deprimente. Non c’è Bellezza che possa fare male, mi sono sempre detto.
Mi sa che devo ricredermi.

Questo romanzo di Haruf è molto bello e contiene così tanta infelicità che in questo periodo della mia vita non riesco a sostenerla.
Non basta che sia bell
Diane Yannick
Dec 30, 2012 Diane Yannick rated it it was amazing
I will read anything this man writes. He can capture our universal humanity way down at a soul level. His eloquent, unobtrusive, sparse prose leads the reader from one carefully drawn scene to the next. He just lays out his story and lets the reader come along for the ride. No words, phrases, or concepts are tortured in this process.

The Lewis family faces the death of their patriarch with as much dignity as they can. Their regrets and accomplishments mix together into an acceptance of a life liv
Mar 09, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it
Recommended to Michael by: Will byrnes
This one made for a very satisfying return for me to the fictional rural community of Holt in the high plains of Colorado. As in his other books, we are treated to the stories of ordinary people struggling to make the most of their lives in the face of the unfulfilled dreams or lost people, all rendered in a spare prose and understated but rich dialog. People who try to rectify their past mistakes. And take the time to rejoice at the simple pleasures from the company of family and friends and th ...more
Feb 18, 2016 Cosimo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La guancia del nemico

“Poi si accorse che non poteva disfare il cappio che aveva dietro la testa senza spostare la cassa, la quale al minimo movimento si sarebbe ribaltata. Paralizzato, si mise a piangere, mentre nella stanza diventava buio. Le lacrime tracciavano dei rigagnoli nella fuliggine che aveva in faccia”.

Ambientata nella pianura arida del Colorado, in una provincia sobria e ordinaria, la storia raccontata nel libro assume una credibilità tanto desolata e tradizionale da apparire incorpo
Dec 01, 2014 Julie rated it really liked it
ETA 11/30/14: RIP to Kent Haruf. Your wisdom, gentleness, and wit will be dearly missed. "And death shall have no dominion . . ."

Holt, Colorado – a blunt-edged town on the eastern edge of Colorado’s high and dry plains – where time ticks like the cooling engine of car. Storms build in billowing clouds on the horizon, summers grind through with breathless heat, winters drive ice and snow from across the flat middle of the country. It is as it has always been. It seems so little changes in this qu
Betsy Robinson
Mar 15, 2016 Betsy Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sitting on a comfortable straight-backed chair, hearing the solitary tick of an ancient kitchen wall clock, in a sun-drenched room in a 150-year-old clapboard house on a dead-end street in a town where everybody’s known you since you were born. That’s what Kent Haruf’s work feels like to me. Spare, haunting, dense with feeling. “The precious ordinary,” he calls it. I love his books. I love his writing. I think I love him.
Dad Lewis has to come to terms with terminal cancer, and sums up his life. His relationships with his parents, children, especially his son Frank, and the people who worked for him, takes center stage.

He has a successful hardware store in main street. That is where he always wanted to be. He grew up the son of a poor farmers' family in Kentucky. "Goddamn it, I didn’t even know how to cut my meat or eat my potatoes right, I chased my peas around the plate with a knife. I come out of that kind of
Apr 17, 2013 Cynthia rated it really liked it
The End

“Benediction” is a lovely story beautifully written. The theme is reminiscent of Marilynne Robinson. The Christian message transcends a niche and expands into something universal. Haruf creates an ideal template for living yet he shows the people who try and live it complete with their warts intact. He tackles a lot of issues in 250 pages. The central theme is loss. At the book’s heart is Dad Lewis who’s just found out he has a fatal disease. He tackles death as it approaches and naturall
Jan 06, 2013 Jill rated it it was amazing
Kent Haruf knows the human heart. He knows how people feel, what they think, why they love, and how they get by. In many ways, he’s a chronicler of the lives of ordinary people with sentences so straightforward, so true, that the reader can’t help but feel that he or she knows these folks intimately.

He won my heart with Plainsong and strengthened that love with Eventide. Now he goes back to the well with another psalm to the residents of Holt, Colorado. Like the earlier books, Kent Haruf intertw
Mark Stevens
Mar 05, 2013 Mark Stevens rated it it was amazing
“Benediction” says we all matter. “Benediction” looks at our faint footprints on the surface of the earth and says each step counts.

We return to the land of “Plainsong” and “Eventide,” but there are only a couple of faint references to the characters who absorbed our attention during those two novels. If “Benediction” is the cap on a trilogy (and Kent Haruf says it’s not), then it’s a trilogy by landscape, not character.

Except the landscape, out in eastern Colorado, seems to form the character.
Emily Crowe
Jan 19, 2013 Emily Crowe rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
I'm hovering between 4 and 5 stars on this one, but I tend to be conservative in my ratings so I'll leave it at 4 for now. What a gorgeous read. Here's the mini "shelf talker" that I wrote for my bookstore:

Benediction by Kent Haruf. Nobody has a finger on the pulse of Americana quite like Haruf, and he brings his full expertise to bear in this powerfully moving novel. Dad Lewis, more backbone than scion of Holt, Colorado, must face his own mortality and as he reflects back on his life, family, a
Jan Rice
May 26, 2014 Jan Rice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jan by: Will Byrnes
Some of my favorite books have memorable death scenes. A secondary character in War and Remembrance: a brash fighter pilot who couldn't imagine that he would die but for whom it was suddenly all over. An old man at the end of The Master Butchers Singing Club, whose life was a fanned-out deck of cards closing up. The main character at the end of And Ladies of the Club. Now that last one contained so many flesh and blood characters across 65 or 70 years that there were bound to be losses! I keep t ...more
Dec 01, 2014 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-audible, favorites
12/01/2014 – Kent Haruf…you chronicled my eastern Colorado roots so brilliantly that I personally knew those folks from “Holt”. May you rest in peace.

Kent Haruf’s writing style is so eloquent, spare and beautiful. As with Plainsong, this novel’s setting is in Holt, an imaginary small town on the High Plains of eastern Colorado. I’m a native of this part of Colorado so I’m very familiar with these folks and their quiet but compelling stories. It starts slowly as Haruf introduces the reader to som
David Carr
Jun 04, 2013 David Carr rated it it was amazing
The fine Australian writer Peter Carey calls Kent Haruf “one of the great poets of the modern novel. He has an extraordinary capacity for love. He will give you the smell of the dirt and grasses of the High Plains of Colorado. He will never fail to engage your heart, but because he is an honest man, he will have you grasp the nettles. If you have never entered his beautiful singing sentences, I envy you your first time. … This is why writers write and readers read.” Here is one master praising a ...more
Nov 30, 2014 Connie rated it really liked it
11/30/14 The wonderful author Kent Haruf has died. Rest in peace.

9/28/13 There is a tone of reverence for all phases of a person's life, including death, in Benediction. Kent Haruf again writes about the townspeople of the small town of Holt, Colorado. He tells us about ordinary people and everyday life in spare, beautiful language.

The main character is Dad Lewis, the owner of a hardware store, who received the news that he only has a few weeks to live. The author, who has been a hospice volunte
Apr 18, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The entire time I was reading this book I could not get a line from Max Ehrmann's Desiderata out of my head: "Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others; even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story." Benediction is the story of a nobody, really. Just a fellow who labored at the same job for half a century, raised a small semi-dysfunctional family, and then became ill. We all know someone like Dad Lewis: most of us will know several people like him. Entire city block ...more
Il dondolo sulla veranda.

Se in "Canto della pianura" la scrittura di Haruf mi era sembrata minimale(ista), quasi scarna, qui si fa essenziale e abbandona ogni eccesso fino a lavorare per sottrazione, quasi noncurante delle possibili asperità, che risultano invece come levigate, naturalmente, come un sasso dall'acqua.
Siamo sempre nella cittadina immaginaria di Holt, in Colorado, da qualche parte lassù, sugli altipiani, ma molto tempo dopo che la pianura ha intonato il suo canto (Playsong, il cant
Natalie Richards
Jan 03, 2016 Natalie Richards rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another absorbing read. Such a deceptively simple story, filled with meaning and love. I will miss never having another Kent Haruf book to read.
Oct 19, 2013 Barbara rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Debby
On Sunday, February 24, 2013, John Freeman, who is the editor of Granta , had a review in the Boston Globe of this latest book by Haruf. It is of particular interest for me because I have enjoyed the novels of this author. I have admired his ability to take a small town in America and interject the reality and the life force of this place and its inhabitants. Freeman's review offers a glimmer of promise that Haruf has done it again!

My husband has hounded me for years to read Mr. Haruf, and now that I have I must go back and read all his books. The man can write! His style is a bit unique, but I loved it! He tells a story that I imagine almost everyone can relate to in some way.

This story is about Dad Lewis and the life he has had. The people who have been a part of most of it as well as those who are there only at the end. These characters are not bigger than life, they are every day, simple, rather non impressive people
Marcello S
Mar 31, 2016 Marcello S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quattro nuclei familiari.
Storie di perdita, sconfitta e rimpianti che si confondono tra di loro.
Tristezza a palate.

C’è quell’atmosfera americana che sembra ritagliata via da un film di Eastwood, tipo Gran Torino.

Kent Haruf ha uno stile non appariscente. Non cerca di commuoverti o straziarti anche se il tema si presterebbe.

All'interno ci sono capitoli che potrebbero avere una vita autonoma.
Il quarto, ad esempio. Due aggiustate e potrebbe finire dritto tra i “Nove racconti” di Salinger.

A tratti a
Jan 07, 2015 Ij rated it it was amazing

Author: Kent Haruf

Publisher: Alfred A. Knoff, New York, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-95988-1

The book defines benediction as, “the utterance of a blessing, an invocation of blessedness.”

What I liked most about this book is that the story did not try to sugarcoat life. Dad Lewis is dying. There is no hope, media vita in morte sumus.

The characters take part in a real life type story. As they leave the doctor’s office with the bad news Dad asked his wife, Mary, to drive home. Dad wanted a chance
Chris Witkowski
Apr 30, 2013 Chris Witkowski rated it liked it
Kent Haruf is a master at describing the very simple things in life - a soft summer breeze, the sweet smell of the air after a sudden rain storm, the everyday tasks performed by ordinary, but very kind and gentle people. His first novel, Plainsong, is one of the sweetest novels I have ever read. Benediction, also set in the small town of Holt, Colorado, has a similar tone, as it tells the story of the last days of Dad Lewis, a man, a husband and a father, who is dying of cancer. Through flashbac ...more
I just finished listening to this book and am feeling sad that it is finished. Haruf does a wonderful job of mixing hope into the story of an elderly man dying of cancer. It is no secret that Dad Lewis does die of cancer at the end, but this is the story of relationships, some broken, some mended, Dad Lewis's benediction offered over his life.

The book contains other sub-stories: the local minister and his family, the neighbor lady, Berta and her grandchild, Alice, a mother and daughter. Each con
Oct 23, 2015 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Linda by: Washington Post "Books" 2-20-13
I'm pretty sure that Kent Haruf was my first "literary fiction" love. I fell in love with him with Plainsong and continued our clandestine affair in Eventide. Then he didn't contact me for years, not a card nor letter nor phone call. Then he sent this present of a book - even choosing to keep the setting of the previously named two books.
Haruf writes characters from the inside, making them real. I wonder whether this book was Haruf's sharing of his terminal cancer.
Dara S.
You might think that because this book is about an old man dying of cancer this book would be a downer. I did not find it so. It is beautifully written. The kindness of the dying old man, his friends and neighbors make this book a delight.
Although this the third book in the series it has totally different characters than the first two and a totally different time although the original characters are mentioned in passing. This could be a stand alone. Highly recommended (
Lynne Spreen
Dec 22, 2015 Lynne Spreen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: midlife
What a masterpiece.

Benediction centers around an elderly man who is dying, but the story encompasses many rich characters, and their small stories touched me. In fact, I think this is what made the book so special for me: I saw a little bit of myself in each of them. Each one resonated. I felt again what it was like to be a lost little girl, a lonely divorcee, a misunderstood introspective, a grieving wife, a person who is coping with serious illness. I longed for the small-town atmosphere desc
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Kent Haruf was born in eastern Colorado. He received his Bachelors of Arts in literature from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1965 and his Masters of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1973. For two years, he taught English in Turkey with the Peace Corps and his other jobs have included a chicken farm in Colorado, a construction site in Wyoming, a rehabilitation ...more
More about Kent Haruf...

Other Books in the Series

Plainsong (3 books)
  • Plainsong (Plainsong, #1)
  • Eventide (Plainsong, #2)

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“And so we know the satisfaction of hate. We know the sweet joy of revenge. How it feels good to get even. Oh, that was a nice idea Jesus had. That was a pretty notion, but you can't love people who do evil. It's neither sensible or practical. It's not wise to the world to love people who do such terrible wrong. There is no way on earth we can love our enemies. They'll only do wickedness and hatefulness again. And worse, they'll think they can get away with this wickedness and evil, because they'll think we're weak and afraid. What would the world come to?

But I want to say to you here on this hot July morning in Holt, what if Jesus wasn't kidding? What if he wasn't talking about some never-never land? What if he really did mean what he said two thousand years ago? What if he was thoroughly wise to the world and knew firsthand cruelty and wickedness and evil and hate? Knew it all so well from personal firsthand experience? And what if in spite of all that he knew, he still said love your enemies? Turn your cheek. Pray for those who misuse you. What if he meant every word of what he said? What then would the world come to?

And what if we tried it? What if we said to our enemies: We are the most powerful nation on earth. We can destroy you. We can kill your children. We can make ruins of your cities and villages and when we're finished you won't even know how to look for the places where they used to be. We have the power to take away your water and to scorch your earth, to rob you of the very fundamentals of life. We can change the actual day into actual night. We can do these things to you. And more.

But what if we say, Listen: Instead of any of these, we are going to give willingly and generously to you. We are going to spend the great American national treasure and the will and the human lives that we would have spent on destruction, and instead we are going to turn them all toward creation. We'll mend your roads and highways, expand your schools, modernize your wells and water supplies, save your ancient artifacts and art and culture, preserve your temples and mosques. In fact, we are going to love you. And again we say, no matter what has gone before, no matter what you've done: We are going to love you. We have set our hearts to it. We will treat you like brothers and sisters. We are going to turn our collective national cheek and present it to be stricken a second time, if need be, and offer it to you. Listen, we--

But then he was abruptly halted.”
“That was on a night in August. Dad Lewis died early that morning and the young girl Alice from next door got lost in the evening and then found her way home in the dark by the streetlights of town and so returned to the people who loved her. And in the fall the days turned cold and the leaves dropped off the trees and in the winter the wind blew from the mountains and out on the high plains of Holt County there were overnight storms and three-day blizzards.” 6 likes
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