island lore

Glenn Harper has a review of Inger Frimansson’s Island of the Naked Women, concluding “Frimansson’s palette has deepened and broadened.” It involves a few of the characters from her previous books, but only tangentially. This novel is darker, more psychological, and less Gothic than her previous work, dealing with residents of an island where in the past women who had been accused of adultery were left without clothing or food to die. It has a cast of characters who are not likeable, but who evoke empathy.

Titus is a literary writer who has recently published a succesful crime novel and is having difficulty coming up with a sequel. He has returned to the family farm to help out when his father has been injured in a fall. Titus hasn’t lived on the farm since his Icelandic mother ran off with another man, taking Titus with her. The father’s now-partner Sabina (in the past we would have said common-law wife) is about Titus’s age has a learning-disabled adult son, Adam, with a talent for singing Elvis songs, a talent encouraged by a Hardy, a handyman with an attitude and a shady past. Ingelize, a former schoolmate of Titus’s, offers him a part-time job working with horses, along with a cabin where he could write in solitude. Even at the start, the scenario suggests betrayal and tragedy. . . . The story presents effectively the ease with which murder may occur and the immense consequences that can ensue, both literal and psychological.

Interesting how many Swedish novels of late have been set on islands: Johan Theorin’s Oland, Stieg Larsson’s island mystery in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Camilla Lackberg’s Fjällbacka . . . maybe no man is an island, but an island might be a good place to hear the bell toll.

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