Saturday, 28 September 2013

Too Many Blogs..

Looking at how rarely I have time to post on this blog, I've come to the conclusion that I may just have too many blogs. You may know that as well as writing this blog, I also write another one, Helena's London Life.

Plus, at the moment,  I'm in the middle of writing a sequel to my first Nordic love story, The Englishman.

So…I'm afraid I'm going to have to say goodbye to Finnish and Scandinavian Review. But please pop over to Helena's London Life where I'll be writing about London, art, fashion and also do regular book reviews.

Goodbye for now, but see you over at Helena's London Life!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Siri by Lena Einhorn

I'm more than a little obsessed with August Strindberg so when my sister brought me this Swedish book about his first and most famous wife, Siri von Essen, I was delighted.

Lena Einhorn is a well respected non-fiction writer in Sweden, but this book about the famous Swedish playwright's wife, is her first novel. In the acknowledgements, Einhorn reveals that the book started out as a non-fiction title. In my opinion, that's how it should have stayed.

Because, although I highly enjoyed reading a different - and engagingly written - account of the highly passionate and tumultuous (and much documented) marriage between August and Siri, the book at times didn't seem a novel at all. On many occasions Einhorn returns to a non-ficton style.

Firstly, she often finishes a chapter with telling us what is to come, "Två gånger skulle Betty von Essen komma att avgöra sin dotters öde, båda gångerna i helt motsatt riktning mot vad hon avsett. Detta var den första." Page 110. In English, "Betty von Essen would decide her daughter's fate twice, both times in a totally opposite direction of what she'd planned to. This was the first occasion"

Einhorn has similarly a habit of beginning of chapter with a brief one-sentence summary of what is to come - a practise quite at home in no-ficton or academic papers, but very frustrating in a novel.

Thirdly, there are several places where Einhorn takes issue with Siri's actions in a direct comment on how her life was lead. Again, this shows that she is more used to writing a non-fiction book.

All these small irritants could easily have been removed by good editing.

Having said all of the above, I loved reading about Siri, and her amazing life. At a time (end of 19th century) when most women were happy just to have married well, Siri's ambitions to become not only a famous actress, but an independent woman, have to be admired. Her relationship with Strindberg was at times obviously unbearable, heart-breaking and even dangerous, but all throughout Siri seemed to have kept her head - while making sure her children were OK.

A great deal of research had obviously gone into writing this novel, if only Einhorn had kept it as a non-fiction book, I would have been raving about it.