Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Astrid & Veronika

  By Linda Olsson

I know that most of the reviews for this book were positive; however, I found myself bored. It's a simple story of a friendship between a young writer and an elderly woman. Veronika who had been living in New Zealand returns to Sweden and takes up residence in a small village where she hopes to complete her novel. Astrid lives across the way. 

Astrid is known as the witch, but we don't know why. Perhaps because she's reclusive. 

In time the two women develop a friendship which includes walks, meals, and the sharing of their past. The story progresses as they each remove layers of the past and reveal tragedies that haunt their lives.

There are certainly a number of tender moments as they reveal themselves to each other. Often what is missing is their motivation for some of their past actions. Their voices are clearer than the narrator's voice which often feels intrusive.

Too much of the story felt contrived. Despite the personal stories I never felt close to the characters. 

For me the strongest parts of the story were the descriptions of the Swedish landscape the two encountered in their walks.

Despite my annoyance with not knowing more about the why behind some of their past actions, I did enjoy their deepening friendship. The ending was flat and predictable.  
Linda Olsson did make me want to walk in the Swedish countryside.

Scandinavian Book Challenge

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