1 September 15 | Kaija Straumanis

The latest addition to our Reviews section is a piece by David Richardson on The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann, translated by Barbara J. Haveland and published by Other Press.

David Richardson is a writer, editor, and teacher based in New York. Here’s the beginning of his review:

Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the forest and cloaked in mist, belongs to the past; it has been the summer home of the Brodal family for generations, and their annual descent has endowed it with the wonder and deep mythos of childhood and family identity. The structure comes to the reader as familiar—we know it from Nabokov’s childhood summers at Vyra in Speak, Memory, and from the Ramsay’s retreat in Virginia Woolf’s _To the Lighthouse_—and so the beams of Mailund are as laden with our memories as they are with that of Siri, Jenny Brodal’s daughter, now staying at the estate with her husband Jon and their children Alma and Liv.

Milla, the teenaged daughter of an adored Norwegian photographer, joins the Brodal family at Mailund for the summer as an au pair. Siri, busy with her restaurant and frustrated with her marriage, and Jon, desperate to write the final novel of his trilogy and to keep secret his adulterous entanglements, entrust Alma and Liv to Milla. She is adoring and enthusiastic, if a bit young and striving. The arrangement is quaint enough until Siri announces,

Something was wrong . . . It had to do with Milla. Or something else. But Milla definitely had something to do with it.

For the rest of the review, go here.


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