by Birgitta Hjalmarson
The Historical Novels Review of Fylgia
Anna is a proud, intelligent older woman recounting her life in the dark, serious atmosphere of Sweden. Her story begins in the time just preceding World War I. In Hult, the residents rigidly follow the Lutheran religion and fiercely reject any modern ways that would water down what they consider sacred tradition. Indeed, the village minister serves more as a local cop, conveying words of fire and brimstone damnation on anyone who veers in even the slightest direction from the Bible and the laws that flow from it. Now, however, socialism is becoming attractive to a few of the town residents. Anna is deeply in love with Fredrik Otter, a wise man who advocates modern farming techniques but is rejected. He loves two women, ergo the dilemma between Anna and the “other woman.” The outcome is intense and the cost to Anna is high. Reality is not to be denied, not even by the fantastic suggestions Anna receives.
Something intriguing and gripping flows through every page of this unique work of fiction. The atmosphere is rather hard and almost melancholic, but Anna is the bright, feisty character whose strength and determination overrule the morose rules and regulations of her community, in attitude if not in actual application. She is unafraid to confront the minister and even the leader of the community, Rammen (aka Grim Larsson, her father). We move with the people of Hult through WWI, the Spanish Flu, the Great Recession, WWII and modern times, a world where matchmaking still exists but love finds a way beyond public restrictions. This is classic historical fiction spanning several decades and revealing the characters behind the veil of Swedish law. Beautifully crafted.
by Birgitta Hjalmarson
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