Intense and relentlessly navel-gazing, this debut by 40-year-old Swedish writer Carolina Setterwall may be billed as an autobiographical novel but is quite simply one of the best bereavement memoirs I’ve read.
This Scandinavian bestseller was based on tragic real events, so it’s not surprising that every spare, controlled sentence has the ring of truth...
This painfully clear-sighted, unsentimental novel is in two alternating parts; one detailing the years leading up to Aksel’s death, the other everything that comes after. It’s about grief in all its raw messiness, but it’s also (as how could it not be?) about time. The anniversaries of love and loss loom large, but more striking is Carolina’s agonised awareness of how she pushed the pace with the reluctant Aksel.
Setterwall’s refusal to impose twists or false neatness is at first admirable then, as a fragile new love begins to blossom for Carolina, gripping.