It's always intriguing to read fiction originating from another country
not your own. Such stories and novels offer alternate paths to understanding
the human condition while providing opportunities to understand the
mindsets of people in different cultures. If the words you read are
translated from another language, you often find rhythms
and turns of phrase that have little likelihood of turning up in the
prose of people who use the same language with which you think.
Hanna's Daughters by Marianne Fredriksson, published in her
native Sweden as Anna, Hanna och Johanna, became a number
one bestseller in both Sweden and Germany. It is the author's first
U.S. publication, and hopes run high for bestselling status in the States.
Hanna's Daughters is a novel of mothers and daughters,
of the longing for love and understanding between generations
hindered by an equally passionate need for independence and self-sufficiency.
Spanning a century in the lives of three women, this story personalizes
the epic nature of history, proving the indelible effect of the macrocosm
on the microcosm. The telling of the stories of these three women is
set in motion by the need of Anna, a modern middle-aged woman, to reconcile with
her mother, Johanna. Balked by senile dementia from reaching her mother,
Anna still sits vigil at Johanna's bedside and hopes for a break that
will allow her to make her peace with her mother.
It is the confusion and pain of her own life that drives Anna to
forge a peace with her matriarchal past. Divorced from her philandering
husband Rickard and grown distant from her own adult daughters, Anna
is searching for something to ground herself, a bond with the past that
will help her be strong and show her a way to happiness. She begins a
search through old photographs, letters and diaries that will allow her
to piece together her family's past, to gain insight into herself by
understanding the lives of the women whose fates and experiences were
the fire in which the woman she would become were forged.
discovers are stories of joy and pain, of hardships and momentary happiness
set against a backdrop of the long struggle between Norway and Sweden
which is itself a part of all of the world's greatest strifes.
As Anna unearths the stories of her mother and grandmother, she
also reveals to herself her own hidden wellspring of strength and self worth.
By coming to terms with her heritage, she will be able to rebuild her
life on the foundation laid by these two extraordinary women.
By knowing the past, she will allow herself to create a satisfying life within the network
of relationships that are the reality of her present.
Hanna's Daughters is a moving and engrossing study of
the uneasy truces that form the ties between mothers and daughters. It
is, too, a personalized portrait of Scandinavia, where history is not
so even-keeled as its people are often thought to be. If this is a
fair example of what Marianne Fredriksson can do, we should hope for
bestselling status in the U.S. for this novel so we can get more of the