22 April 2009

Astrid and Veronica (Linda Olsson)

As stated in an earlier post, I picked this book from the library purely for the cover. A handful of gorgeous, lush raspberries being offered to the reader... my favourite fruit! Deciding this was a sign I checked it out immediately.

It turns out, they weren't raspberries. They were wild strawberries.*
It all went downhill from there.

Veronica is a young woman who has suffered some sort of trauma (we're not clued in from the beginning). She has rented a house in a small village in Sweden to finish her novel and regroup as it were. Astrid is her very elderly neighbour and is the village recluse and/or (depending on who you listen to) witch. They become friends slowly over the summer, sharing their past experiences over good food and wine.

The main problem I had with the novel is that the two women are rather unrelatable, unlikeable even. I think it may have something to do with the way Olsson writes, but the two women appear to be totally unemotional at times and impassive in the extreme. One could argue this is a defence that has been raised to deal with their difficult experiences, but I think it's just a case of 2-D character-itis.

They are most annoying taking it in turns to recount the bad things that have happened to them. Most of the time they will not comfort and respond to the story they have just heard, rather they will just top it with one of their own:

"My father sexually molested me."
"Well, my lover was eaten by a shark."
"Well, my mother killed herself."


The writing is okay, although nothing unique. I found myself vaguely annoyed when the term 'organic' was used to describe two different things within the first chapter, but otherwise it was fine. If you want a novel that doesn't really go anywhere but is quite nice in a depressing, apathetic sort of way go ahead and source a copy.

Rating: 6/10.

*(I think my contacts prescription needs strengthening again. Sigh. Pretty soon I'll be writing reviews of audio books.)
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