Thursday, February 27, 2014

Astrid & Veronika

Astrid and Veronika
Linda Olsson
3.5 / 5

Published 2005

First Sentence
"There had been wind and drifting snow during her journey, but as darkness fell, the wind died and the snow settled."
Publisher's Description:
Veronika, 32, a writer whose boyfriend just drowned in New Zealand, rents a house in a small Swedish village next door to recluse Astrid, 81. They share walks, meals, wine, and dangerous memories.
Dear Reader,

My oldest sister sent me a copy of this book, because she had so enjoyed it.  I was already pretty sold just from the beautiful cover, haha!  But it took me a while to get around to this slim volume, strangely enough.  I finally picked it up and flew through it, as I'd expected I would.

The story centered tightly on the lives of two neighbors, one new to the area, and one who had lived there all her life.  It took me several weeks after I finished it, but I finally realized why this book didn't sit entirely well with me: it reminded me a lot of a blend of chick lit and a Mitch Albom work.  I don't know.  It was good, don't get me wrong.  Very powerful and emotional, and told a beautiful story of unexpected but deep friendship, and it definitely made me cry a bit.  But it felt sometimes too much like it was trying to be preachy about how one should be sure to appreciate the little things, the here and now, and make the most of life.  How not to get trapped in unhappiness.  The women were good for each other, both having suffered terrible losses and struggling to find their way back from them.  I definitely liked how the story was almost exclusively focused on these two women, which worked because they lived in a pretty isolated spot.  So the author was able to keep the camera lens focused narrowly on these women and their pasts, as they began to open up to each other.  It was lovely the way Veronika found the mother she never had in Astrid, and ditto the daughter Astrid needed.  I did love the magical way the women's lives ended up weaving together and how they learned to lean on each other.

Overall, I did like the book.  I actually DO appreciate when books send me messages, give me subtle (or not-so-subtle) reminders about why and how to enjoy the little things in life.  I think there was just something slightly off about the way this one was done, despite how well written it was.  Oddly, though, I WOULD recommend it - particularly to other women.  I don't think it would resonate so well with men; it was definitely written to reach out to the female sex.

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