Astrid & Veronika

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Astrid & Veronika by Linda Olsson– a Swedish author who lives in New Zealand – is a wonderful story about the unlikely friendship between two different women and how they share life stories and become friends told over a few months.

Veronika is in her early thirties. She rents a house in a small remote Swedish village to complete a book and recover from her recent past. Her nearest neighbor is Astrid, an 80-year-old recluse nicknamed the village witch.

While Veronika has traveled almost her entire life, Astrid has spent most of her life under the same roof. Yet both women are lonely and step by step they become friends.

As trust develops between them, each woman slowly starts sharing her own secrets and sorrows. The narrative focuses on Veronika and Astrid alternatively, thus inviting us to share the women’s feelings and perspectives. Eventually both characters come to terms with their pains and are able to move forward in their own ways.

The rhythm of the novel is slow reflecting the author’s love of poetry but it never becomes tedious. It is also deeply rooted in Swedish folk culture with frequent evocations of the country’s landscapes, flowers, berries as well as food.

Last but not least, the book contains numerous quotes from different poets and introduced me to the powerful poetry of Karin Boye.

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6 thoughts on “Astrid & Veronika

  1. A thirty-something with an eighty-something – nice connection. Did the author write in English or in Swedish? “frequent evocations of the country’s landscapes, flowers, berries as well as food” – that must be nice for those (like yourself) who enjoy a taste of Sweden.

  2. Yes, that does sound like a good read. Friendships between people of different generations always bring something new to consider – I think both can learn from the other. I have several friends in their 80s and they are so inspiring to me. I want to be as lively, funny, engaging and thoughtful as they are when i reach their age.

    As for the rhythm of the novel being slow – it seems to be a common theme in Scandinavian literature, arts and culture. But I think that is a good thing, when we all seem to spend so much time rushing around these days!

    • I agree that some older people are totally inspiring.

      Regarding the slow pace of Scandinavian literature, it is something which has grown on me with time. The more I read these slow-paced novels, the more I appreciate their rhythm and see them as oases of peace and quiet.

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