Veronika, a writer in her early thirties, rents a house in the Swedish countryside to finish her novel. She is also cocooning herself from her past. She befriends Astrid, a reclusive older woman who has lived in the village all her life. Olsson leads us through the flowering of their unusual and tender friendship, as they slowly and carefully reveal their life histories and sometimes heart-rending pasts. The Swedish landscape is always a powerful presence and measures the progress of the women's relationship; as the icy winter and bare trees give way to spring and then summer, the women's friendship deepens.
Veronika divulges the death of her fiancé James, a New Zealander, and Astrid exposes her terrible family background: a mother who committed suicide, an abusive father, an unhappy marriage and the death of her daughter. As the women grow closer, they find peace within themselves.
A stunning first novel by a new writer with genuine talent. She is highly praised by her mentor Witi Ihimaera.
This book gripped me in the beginning, but I found it started to wind down towards the end. The writing style is lovely though and an interesting intermingling of the main characters.