Hanna's Daughters
Marianne Fredrikkson
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Get Marianne Fredrikkson's *Hanna's Daughters* delivered to your door! Hanna's Daughters
Marianne Fredriksson
Ballantine Books
368 pages
August 1999
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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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.

Curled Up With a Good BookHanna'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.

What she 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 same.

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