24.11.2016 14:51

Astrid & Veronika, Linda Olsson, 2005

Autor: Veronika Matúšová | Kurz: English section | Kategorie: Features and other

Lots of people read books which make them feel relaxed. Other readers like something more complicated, stories which teach us something about the world. In some cases these two points are combined which, I think, is great. Astrid and Veronika is one of these readable novels with a spirit.

Astrid and Veronika

The name of the novel is not a big clue for us if we want to know what the book is about. The true is that it's a simple story. Simple, but beautiful. It is Linda Olsson's debut. She wrote it as a school work - it was a part of her dissertation at the university in Auckland where she graduated. She studied literature. At first the novel was called „Let Me Sing You Gentle Songs“. Olsson was born in Stockholm and she has travelled a lot during her life. Finally she found her home in New Zealand where she lives till today. These facts are important for her style of writing, that's why I don't want to omit it. I think she is one of the authors who are really influenced a lot by personal experiences.


It is an unknown narrator who is introducing us the story. There are two main characters. First one is Astrid, very old woman who has spend her whole life at the same place – in the small Swedish village in a big old house. It is her territory, source of safety full of memories and emotions. She has never travelled anywhere and she hasn't told a word to anybody for a long time, that's why she is well known as an old witch in the village. It is too cruel nickname how the reader can find out soon. Veronika is actually her opposite, but only in some aspects. She is young, sociable and intelligent writer who came to the same village because of various circumstances in her life. She became Astrid's neighbour. She is depressed because of personal tragedy and also a little bit confused about her future. She is depressed because of personal tragedy and also a little bit confused about her future. One day Veronika has a fever and feels terrible weakness. It is Astrid who helps her return to health. At this moment strong relationship has been made between them. They start to narrate their life stories to each other


What I must really appreciate is that the personalities in the book are well described. Except these two women there are mentioned many people there from Astrid's and Veronika's past and their families. Olsson is focused on psyche and human behaviour a lot. We can realise that everything has some reason. Astrid is a woman who had not neither happy childhood nor marriage, that's why she lost hope and vitality. She also committed something terrible when she was young. She is broken and lost in the world, despite the fact, that she has never left her home. Veronika lost her husband and actually has no home. The story is full of strong emotions and peace at the same time, and this is what makes the book interesting I think – reader can feel something. Although they are often talking about sadness, the atmosphere of the book is positive. I'm not sure, maybe Veronika is Linda Olsson's alter ego, surely there are some connections. It might not be a coincidence that Veronika lived in New Zealand as well.


Close attention is paid to the description of nature (maybe it is Norse author's habit), which may sounds boring. Personally I like it, Olsson plays with each word and sentence carefully. She really knows how to make reader curious for the whole time and these changes of topic could help her with it. In some important part of narration she starts to describe the beauties of the area where just the part of story takes place. Readers can imagine the atmosphere of each situation and perceive by the senses all - lively spring meadows, quiet surface of cold lake or magnificent beaches on the New Zealand.


Definitely I can recommend the book. The end of a novel is as a whole story – bittersweet, but finally more sweet. I like the trifles which completes a gentle character of the story, for example at the beginning of each chapter there is beautiful quote from some song or poem which connects with the storyline. The main mission is to make reader calm, full of hope and a little bit thoughtful. In my opinion it is good to choose the right time and mood for reading this kind of story, I mean a moment when we are ready to be concentrated and maybe nostalgic, not only excited.








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