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Astrid and Veronika Paperback – 1 Feb 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 259 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (1 Feb. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143038079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143038078
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.3 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 473,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Beautiful and deeply affecting. A dreamlike evocation of the power of friendship. (Mary McGarry Morris, author of "The Lost Mother" and "Songs in Ordinary Time")

Linda Olsson unravels . . . each womans story . . . gradually revealing their grief and loss. . . . This a subtle but powerful novel, tender and poignant. ("The Dominion Post," New Zealand)

Linda Olsson unravels . . . each womanas story . . . gradually revealing their grief and loss. . . . This a subtle but powerful novel, tender and poignant. ("The Dominion Post," New Zealand)

Linda Olsson unravels . . . each woman s story . . . gradually revealing their grief and loss. . . . This a subtle but powerful novel, tender and poignant. ("The Dominion Post", New Zealand)

Linda Olsson unravels . . . each woman's story . . . gradually revealing their grief and loss. . . . This a subtle but powerful novel, tender and poignant. ("The Dominion Post", New Zealand)

Linda Olsson evokes, with great beauty and precision, the landscape of a friendship between two very different women, each caught in a tragic moment from the past. Their connection, initially as tentative and fragile as the first filaments of ice, gradually strengthens, allowing each woman to give voice to her stories, and in doing so to reclaim ?a heart for beauty.? Subtle, penetrating, and beautifully written, "Astrid and Veronika" affirms the power of narrative to transform. (Kim Edwards)

Not only impossible to put down, but impossible to forget. ("Canvas," New Zealand)
Linda Olsson unravels . . . each woman's story . . . gradually revealing their grief and loss. . . . This a subtle but powerful novel, tender and poignant. ("The Dominion Post," New Zealand)
Linda Olsson evokes, with great beauty and precision, the landscape of a friendship between two very different women, each caught in a tragic moment from the past. Their connection, initially as tentative and fragile as the first filaments of ice, gradually strengthens, allowing each woman to give voice to her stories, and in doing so to reclaim "a heart for beauty." Subtle, penetrating, and beautifully written, "Astrid and Veronika" affirms the power of narrative to transform. (Kim Edwards)
Beautiful and deeply affecting. A dreamlike evocation of the power of friendship. (Mary McGarry Morris, author of "The Lost Mother" and "Songs in Ordinary Time")

Review

"Readers of Anne Tyler and Jodi Picoult will appreciate the lyrical prose and expert rendering of the themes of heartbreak and loss." (Booklist)

"Evokes, with great beauty and precision, the landscape of a friendship." (Kim Edwards)

"Olsson seduces the reader with her hypnotic prose, rendering the book not only impossible to put down, but impossible to forget." (The New Zealand Herald) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
What a beautiful writer, and how astonishing to think this is a first novel. It tells the story of a how a young woman arrives in the Swedish countryside in the depths of winter and how, over the course of a year, she embarks on a deep friendship with her reclusive, elderly neighbour. But both women are hiding tragic, shocking secrets. Their stories emerge slowly as they share meals together. So tenderly described that I felt that I had been there and could taste the pancakes and wild strawberry jam from Astrid's lovely old china. Each chapter begins with a few lines of Swedish poetry, translated by Linda Olsson - she apologises saying she has made no attempt at conveying the poetic quality of the original - but I found them hauntingly beautiful. I wish I had the talent with words to convey the quality of this book. It reminded me of Tove Jansson's Summer Book.
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Format: Paperback
It might be a slow book - not because it takes a long time to read, but because there are not much action and not many people in it. Which is not a bad thing ...

What intrigues me is the beauty and the unfolding of a very tender friendship between a young and an old woman. While nothing is happening in the outside world they both change on the inside when they get the chance to confide in each other and tell each other their stories about lost loves. However while you get the older woman's full story I'd like to know more about the background of the younger woman ...

I read the book in a couple of days and in a way it was like reading a long peaceful poem because of the detailed descriptions of countryside in Sweden. Yes, the book is a gentle song. But the secrets it reveals might not be so gentle ...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of my all time favourite books. It is about a friendship between a young woman and her older neighbour, also a woman. The story just flows along slowly as we discover the similarities between their lives. An unlikely friendship grows between the two and they become to rely on each other and share their equally sad pasts. Linda Olssons writing is beautiful and I couldn't put this book down. I have read it twice now and highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
Very moving story of finding one's way back to love and life. Beautiful !

I will be rereading.

Favorite passages:

"'I have never talked to anyone about that night. Ever..' she said. 'And now when I listen to my own words, I realise that they tell a different story from the one I have carried all these years.' The old woman closed her eyes. 'I think that if we can find the words, and if we can find someone to tell them to, then perhaps we can see things differently. But I had no words, and I had nobody.'"

"There were no attempts at CPR .... and I fell to my knees, my hands reaching out to touch him. I licked the salt water from his eyelids. I put my ear to his chest. I whispered into his ear, the words of our entire life. I put my ear close to his mouth and listened for an answer."

"You can become aware of the small kindnesses, the little comforts. Be grateful for them. And with time you will understand that there is nothing to fear. And much to be grateful for."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book. Agreed, not much actually happens in the story as the events are all in the past and are gradually revealed to each other over a period of time and conversations. However, the writing is superb, I was transported to Sweden and I loved the gentle pace and thoughtful prose. It is quite a short book and easily read. It made a change not to be charging through a huge 'page turner'. We read this for book club. Two of us loved it and two of us found it just 'interesting'.... but we certainly found plenty to talk about.
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Format: Paperback
Linda Olsson's first novel, published in 2005, focuses increasingly narrowly on two very different women neighbours: Veronika, a young novelist who, after traveling widely, has come to a live in a remote region of Sweden after her fiancee was drowned whilst surfing in New Zealand, and Astrid, called 'the witch' by local villagers, who is a recluse having lived in the adjacent house for some sixty years and only once having left the village.

When Veronika is taken ill, Astrid is concerned that she no longer sees her passing her house and, finding her unwell, feeds and looks after her ("Veronika took the rolled up pancake between her fingers and took a bite. It tasted wonderful - light yet smothered in butter, and the jam sweet and filled with the flavour of wild strawberries") and a tentative friendship begins which deepens and broadens through the book as they talk about their lives and the events that have brought them to the village. This friendship is also measured by the meals which they make for one another and share in their houses, simple meals which offer a basis for the frequently very harrowing memories they both relive.

The author treads a fine path between providing readers with detailed explanations of the main character's history and motivations, and leaving too much for the readers to work out for themselves; this is not always easy - especially for first novelists.

Olsson's own travels from Sweden to New Zealand and Japan provide the basis for much of the novel, although my one reservation is that Veronika's meeting with her father in Tokyo read a bit too much like a travelogue.
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