“My pulse raced as I traipsed through the silent forest. The occasional screech of a bird, and, other than that, only naked, grey deciduous trees, spindly young saplings and the odd blue-green sprig of juniper in the muted April sunlight.”
IT always strikes me as strange that most of us know the greatest works of fiction in translation rather than in its first hand incarnation. Apparently the vernacular if you like, the original incarnation, can be discarded without apparently devaluing all its appreciation, a point that obviously does not happen with other arts such as music or painting. Story telling is a fundamental, human expression that breaks out from its own constraints and thrives in other mediums and languages.
There is a privilege to reading books from other countries and languages too, like taking a lift down to another floor to new sets of mores, customs, inferences, unexpectednesses. In that regard every town deserves its own writer.
Here we are in Norway. We have two characters with secrets, known only perhaps to the old shopkeeper who writes all purchases down in her ledger…She has applied to be the gardener to a recluse. She is escaping, he is…it is an unlikely dance.
“He’d see that even I was no stranger to peculiar behavior, he’d realize he wasn’t the only one familiar with that particular art”.
She is imprisoned in the first person, he in the third party. They are drawn together by an old handwritten recipe book. And the wine in the cellar. It is a difficult courtship. The back cover says it is a psychological thriller but that is not quite right, it is the psychology itself that thrills. The sense of the unlikely is underscored with Norse legends and pagan rituals plus the black fjordic setting. Actually it is all very accomplished indeed leading up to a finale that is, well beautifully Nordic.