Writer: Ida Jessen (translated by Martin Aitken)
Publishing House: Archipelago Books
Date of Publication: May 10th 2022 (first published January 1st 2013)
Rating: 5 stars
‘’In her coat, standing at the counter, Tove wrote: ‘’I’ve gone out.’’ She then crumpled the note in her hand and wrote instead: ‘’Since you clearly weren’t interested in herring – ‘’ Here she ran out of worlds for a moment, before adding simply: ‘’I am not your fucking husband.’’
These are haunting stories of women trying to stand up to the demands of Fate, and the complex relationships that shape their lives. Whether you are a girlfriend, a wife, a mother, whether you are patient or erratic, you need to convince yourself that you will get through this.
But sometimes, it is just impossible to forgive or forget…
Danish Literature keeps giving us gems that demand our full attention.Exquisitely translated by Martin Aitken.
An Excursion: An accidental meeting leads to exalted expectations and marriage but more often than not, we do not understand our mistakes until it is too late…A story with a sensitive heroine and a beautiful sense of place within a small community. And a prick of a husband…
‘’Christmas decorations were festooned from the ceiling. It was she who had hung them up. She picked away the withered leaves from among the poinsettia plants they called Christmas Stars and was about to put the polystyrene bats in place in the new refrigerated counter they were all so proud of when she discovered blood had run from the meat and pooled in the bottom of the display.’’
December is a Cruel Month: Two families face their own Hell following a tragic death and an accident, and two daughters are left to face the world without their mother. A story that will make you shiver as you try to connect the pieces of a cruel puzzle. Extremely powerful and so, so sad.
An Argument: A wife and a husband have distanced themselves from each other, burdened by the absence of their son. Where there was love, there is irritating politeness at best…On a side note, what is it about Danish literature and the bleakest portrayal of marriage? I’m sure I’m jumping to awful, unfair conclusions but marriage seems to be a tricky business in Denmark…I hope the Danes are better husbands than Danish Literature makes them to be…
A Postcard for Annie: Set in Aarhus in 1983 and 2002, this is a melancholic trip in the repercussions of a dark day and a terrible accident as Mie shares her memories of friendship, love and loss.
‘’The lighting candles cast reflections in the pitifully thin window panes that allow in a sleeping draught. Outside, the bins and bicycles are hidden by darkness. Across the courtyard, the elevator line ascends through the shaft.’’
Mother and Son: If I had such a horrible son, I would go straight to the police and ask them to lock him up. Away from me, and away from society. And I’d spend every minute of every day trying to understand my own mistakes…
In My Hometown: The moving story of an enigmatic couple that used to own a book shop and the memories of a neighbourhood…
‘’Carefully, Marianne put down the star she was holding and went to the window. From where she stood, she could see a line of four lampposts along the street; she could see the road, the sidewalk, the long hedges in front of their houses. The empty air danced in the artificial light. Or was it raining? Marianne pressed her mouth to the pane. If she waited for her at the window, her mother would appear as she always did, emerging out of the darkness into the pool of light from the lamppost furthest away.’’
Many thanks to Archipelago Books and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.