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Book Reflections – The Leech by Cora Sandel

Cora Sandel is the pen name of Sara Cecilia Görvell Fabricius, a writer and painter, born in Norway in 1880. She wrote several collections of short stories and about five novels. I found an ex-library copy of The Leech at the Lifeline book fair and decided to add it to the modest number of books that I’ve read by Norwegian writers and books set in Norway.

In this short novel we follow a middle-class Norwegian family, living in the far north of Norway, for 48 hours. At the start of the book it is difficult to figure out who is who and what is going on but from about halfway the book, when Sandel finally explains the connections between the characters, it becomes interesting. That lack of clarity may be the fault of the English language and/or the translator and it may be clearer in the original Norwegian language.

If you can drag yourself through the first section of the book you will be rewarded because in the second half we are treated to conflict and frank admissions and declarations from the central characters.

If you intend to read the book you should stop reading this review now. The book centres around Lagerta (in her 50s, Lagerta is the aunt of Jonas and Gregor, on the brink of bankruptcy she cannot refuse her beloved nephew Gregor), Jonas (in his 40s, Jonas manages the family business and finances), Gregor (in his late 30s, Gregor is ground down by an unhappy marriage and an unsuccessful writing career that he regrets embarking upon), and Dondi (in her 30s, Dondi is Gregor’s unlikable, duplicitous and unstable wife, also the mother of unruly twins – according to Wikipedia the original title of the book is Kjøp ikke Dondi or Don’t Buy Dondi). We also get charming chameo appearances from Jonas and Gregor’s irritable grandmother, Dondi’s irresponsible friend Kaia and the faithful house servant Karine. This is a truly unhappy family. I think that Tolstoy would have enjoyed reading about this family.

The final show-down in this book sizzles with vituperative comments and shocking declarations from the stars of the book. I can understand why it was published by The Women’s Press Fiction because Sandel sensitively describes the societal pressures on 3 generations of women.

I enjoyed reading about the scenery, the midnight sunshine and the weather in this town inside the Arctic circle. I would like to read this captivating book in Norwegian. Have you read anything else by Cora Sandel or any other Norwegian writers that you can recommend to me?

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This entry was posted on June 5, 2018 by in fiction and tagged , , , , , , .
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