Hannibal Free Public Library

The Red Address Book


Sofia Lundberg

December 6, 2021

2:30 – 4:00 p.m.





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 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 et and loved throughout the years.  Looking through the little book now, Doris sees the many crossed-out names of people long ago and is struck by the urge to put pen to paper.  In writing down the stories of her colorful past, can she help Jenny, haunted by a difficult childhood, unlock the secrets of their family and finally look to the future?




A journalist and former magazine editor, Sofia Lundberg lives in Stockholm with her son.




  1. In what way is the red address book “a map of life” (7)? Why does Doris want to tell her grandniece Jenny about it?


  1. Look at Doris’s childhood. Why does Doris’s mother send her away as a child?  What surprised you, or what did you learn, about this time period in Sweden?


  1. Who is Gösta Nilsson and how does Doris meet him? Why do you think that Gösta and Doris are able to form such a close and enduring relationship?


  1. Who stops Doris on the street on her way to the butcher and how does this encounter change her life? Is the encounter a lucky one or an unfortunate one?


  1. What does the book reveal about the subject of beauty? What does Doris learn about beauty during her time as a live mannequin? Do Doris’s ideas about beauty evolve as she ages?  Do you agree with her?


  1. How is Doris’s life shaped by the separations that occur? How do the other characters in the book cope with separations?


  1. What does the book seem to suggest about how well we can truly know others? How well does Jenny know her great aunt Doris? What secrets do Doris and other characters keep?


  1. When Doris begins to write for a living, what does she instinctively know that people will want in their stories? Why do she and Gösta laugh at the stories she writes for women’s magazines? What do you think the author is trying to convey about storytelling and its role in our lives?


  1. Both Doris and Jenny are described as beautiful, yet they admittedly lack self-confidence. What do you think has contributed to their poor self-image and their inability to see themselves as beautiful? What might have changed or prevented this? How does this compare to how the women in your own life view themselves?


  1. According to Doris, what happens to people who experience intense longing? Discuss the relationship between longing and memory and nostalgia.


  1. Over the course of their friendship, what does Gösta teach Doris about love and attraction?


  1. Who do Jenny and Willie set out to find at the end of Doris’s life? Do you agree with their choice to locate this person? Why or why not?



Adapted from: https://readinggroupchoices.com/books/red-address-book/