Worlds apart

It feels strange to have two novels published at the same time, but at two ends of the earth.

‘The Blackbird Sings at Dusk’ was published in New Zealand 5 May and is now No. 2 on the chart for New Zealand fiction:

blackbird NZ cover

And at the same time ‘A sister in my house’ was published in Sweden and is presently No. 4:

omslag4nov-page-0

  1. Val Says:

    The Blackbird Sings At Dusk.
    It’s interesting that the quotation from Wallace Steven at the very beginning of this wonderful book reflects exactly how I felt while reading it for the first time
    ‘ I do not know which to prefer…
    The blackbird whistling
    Or just after.’
    Having literally hugged this book to myself when I received it, I wanted to read it slowly and to savour the brilliant descriptions of the setting – an apartment block near the Katarina Church in Stockholm, a church which has survived being destroyed by fire twice, and rebuilt to the beautiful building we see today.
    That fact seems to provide a metaphor for the lives of the three people who become friends, carrying the scars of their own wounds and not knowing whether they can ever be healed and rebuilt.
    Elisabeth has been almost destroyed by her grief and anxiety and at the beginning, it seems as though she will never recover, but when she makes an effort to help Elias, her life begins to change and she even ‘found herself gently stroking his wet hair’.
    She tries to explain her actions to the Woman in Green who intrudes on her mental state and to whom she feels bound to exculpate her ‘normal’ behaviour from time to time but she is ‘too tired’. At a later stage, the Woman in Green warns Elisabeth against normality and ‘the devastating pain connected with life out there.’
    The other member of the trio, Otto, begins to introduce her to the life which he and Elias lead, weekly dinners on Tuesdays, caring for each other , and very slowly she begins to take part in their lives. Otto says at dinner ‘I do hope it’s a start. The beginning of our friendship.’
    And shortly after her words have been formulated in Elisabeth’s head, the blackbird begins to sing ‘ a jubilant song… Brimming with the joy of life’.
    Throughout the book, it seems that the choice between life and death is predominant in Elisabeth and as she begins to enjoy herself with Otto and Elias, she allows the Woman in Green to depart for a while. She is able to examine her life and remember without experiencing the searing pain which caused her to withdraw completely from society.
    She writes, Elias draws and Otto finds himself loving and seemingly, all is well.
    But when they go to the island, things change and the book ends on an ambiguous note which leaves us chilled and confused.
    As with all Linda Olsson’s beautifully written, enchanting novels, there are moments when I wanted to put down the book and allow myself to travel to the scene which has been described. The happens often in ‘The Blackbird Sings At Dusk’ when I could imagine myself in the courtyard of their apartment block or in the churchyard of Katarina Church, where there are very sad gravestones and there is a knowledge of terrible events which took place, but now it is peaceful and people come and sit there and are not afraid.
    We hope that this healing will take place with Elisabeth, Elias and Otto but we cannot be sure.

    I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read yet another wonderful book by Linda Olsson.