Friday, February 27, 2009

Review: Hanna's Daughters by Marianne Fredriksson


book 3 of 3 for the Well Seasoned Reader Challenge
genre: fiction, translated
rating: 5/5

I'm still reeling from the depth of this book. Hanna's Daughters is a story of three generations of Swedish women, trying their hardest to find out who they are in a world that never seems to fit them completely. Hanna, Johanna and Anna - grandmother, mother and daughter, their lives winding through Swedish history: war and famine, prosperity and vague pleasures, from a mountain cabin on a lake in the mid 1800s to the streets of modern Göteborg.

The narrative is both personal and real, each women's experiences woven through everyone else's and we see each generation from the other's point of view. I loved this book for its history and the appreciation I've found for Sweden and its past, the class struggles and the people's desire to truly be a land of human rights. I loved the book for its words - an excellent translation that even gives you a sense of the rural dialect of the grandmother's family. I loved the book for the reality of these women whose relationships are so familiar - heartbreaking and poignant. I didn't love that most of the men seemed either weak or dominating, but I also feel like I understand the characters enough to know why there were together - and that the men did have much to offer these strong and struggling women.

At times the chronology and unfamiliar names and geography got confusing, but I eventually felt I belong in this land of water and life. I wished, sometimes, that their stories had been happier ones, but I think part of my love of this book is that they had to find a way to work it out, despite their choices and circumstances. And because their was so much difficulty, their epiphanies and those moments when things finally seemed clear became that much sweeter.

9 comments:

bermudaonion said...

That sounds wonderful. Thanks for the review.

morninglight mama said...

I was really drawn in by this story as well. My stepmother-in-law had passed along her copy to me sometime last year, and I really went through it quickly, not wanting to leave the characters even for a little while.

Melissa said...

I've heard nothing but good about this book, but somehow it's never made it onto my list. That is now rectified. I'm glad you loved it.

Tricia said...

Ooooh, this sounds like a must-read. I have Swedish ancestry on both sides and this sounds like something I would love.

Meg89 said...

I love that cover, and the book sounds so good! I'm going to have to get my hands on a copy of this one, thanks for the review!

Beth F said...

Lovely review!! Thanks.

Serena said...

I love books that grab ahold of you and will not let go. this sounds like one for my good reads tbr list!

Anna said...

I bought this one a few years ago, and I absolutely loved it! Thanks for the review, as I'd forgotten about this book and how much I enjoyed it.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Carol said...

I just finished. My grandmother grew up in the same place, Gotenburg, as Johanna did at the same time. Interesting.

I did not get the exchange between Anna and Sofie at the end. Did you?

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